It is widely accepted by the field of early childhood education and by the public that high-quality preschool programs for young children from low-income families can have long-term benefits, although studies of early childhood programs in typical communities have often failed to find similar long-term effects. Some argue that variations in the quality or developmental appropriateness of programs can account for differences in effectiveness. This article reviews studies designed to define and measure the effects of quality in early care and education, and it analyzes the programs provided in successful long-term studies to look for common elements that may be critical to the long-term effectiveness of preschool. The conclusions of the analysis are that effective programs were characterized by combinations of most of the following elements: (1) small class sizes with low ratios of children to teachers; (2) teachers who received support to reflect on and improve their teaching practices; (3) a concentrated or long-lasting intervention; (4) ongoing, child-focused communication between home and school; and (5) use of some curriculum content and classroom processes that are similar to what children encounter in traditional schooling. Recommendations for policy, practice, and research are offered to promote the adoption of these effective practices in all types of early childhood programs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)
- Sociology and Political Science
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health