What Works for Children’s Physical Health?

Children’s overall development during the first eight years of life is strongly affected by their health, and experiences during this time are often hardwired into their brains and bodies, forming the foundation for all subsequent health and development.1 What Works for Third Grade Reading: Physical Health considers why physical health matters for third grade reading proficiency, outlines its connection with other factors that impact early literacy, and highlights options that have been shown to move the needle on children’s social-emotional health outcomes.

Access to comprehensive, integrated, high-quality health care builds on a healthy birth. Regular health care can help prevent chronic, undiagnosed health issues, and manage chronic conditions, such as childhood diabetes and asthma, which are obstacles to learning.2 Good health helps ensure that children are successful learners from their earliest years, putting them on the pathway to becoming proficient readers—healthy children are more likely to be physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally ready for kindergarten, attend school consistently, and benefit from high-quality learning environments.3

is one of 12 new working papers that offer research-based policy, practice and program options to states and communities working to improve third grade reading proficiency. Click here to listen to a webinar that provides an overview of the working papers and shares other Pathways resources that may assist communities in improving outcomes for young children.

What Works for Third Grade Reading: Physical Health is part if a collection of 12 What Works for Third Grade Reading? working papers that address whole-child, birth-to-age-eight factors that support children’s optimal development and improve reading proficiency. The resource was produced by the Institute for Child Success and the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation, in collaboration with BEST NC, to support the work of the NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading (Pathways) initiative.


1Facts for Life. (n.d.). Child Development and Early Learning. Retrieved January 30, 2017 from http://www.factsforlifeglobal.org/03/

2Georgia Family Connection Partnership. (2015). Building the Path to Reading Proficiency: Addressing Early Childhood in Georgia. Retrieved from https://www.greatstartgeorgia.org/sites/default/files/readingproficiency.pdf and Schorr, Pathway to Children, op cit.

3Head Start, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2016). Physical Development and Health.  Retrieved January 30, 2017 from https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/hs/sr/approach/elof/pd_health.html