Early Years Are Learning Years: Helping Young Children Start School
The first years of a child's life are a crucial development period, and children who are nurtured and stimulated during these years are much more prepared for formal reading and math and are more likely to have the social skills they will need when it's time for kindergarten. Parents are a child's first teachers, but early childhood education programs are also important, especially with the growing number of families with one parent, and families where both parents work full-time. The following guidelines, based on the National Association for the Education of Young Children Early Childhood Program Standards, can help you identify high-quality early care and education programs for your young children. Preschool and child care programs should focus on children:
- Watch to see that children interact with other children and adults, so they can build healthy relationships.
- Ask about the curriculum, which should include a variety of activities appropriate for the children's ages and needs.
Preschool and child care programs should have qualified staff:
- The staff should have the educational background to promote your child's learning and development. Ask what degrees and training teachers have.
- Ask how long teachers and staff have been with the program. Teachers that stay in the program longer are more able to focus their attention on the children and establish bonds with them.
Preschool and child care programs should build relationships with families: