Early Childhood Education

A growing body of evidence shows positive benefits to early childhood education experiences, both for the child and society. However, many studies also show that achievement gaps appear early and widen over the years that children are in school. That is why NAESP advocates for a seamless continuum of learning for every child across prekindergarten through third grade, typically age 3 to age 8.


Early childhood education, generally defined as ages 3 to 8, has lasting and positive benefits for students and society. Children who have high-quality early childhood education experiences are more likely to achieve in school, are less likely to repeat a grade, and are more likely to graduate from high school on time. Later in life, they are more likely to attend a four-year college and own a home and car, and they are less likely to commit crimes.Principals play a key role in ensuring that young children receive the solid educational foundation they need by helping connect early childhood education and K–12 into a seamless continuum and supporting developmentally appropriate teaching and learning practices.
NAESP believes that:
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Early childhood programs and experiences should be available for all children and that there should be a continuum of learning from early childhood through third grade;
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Early childhood curriculum should include ambitious standards and instruction, purposeful play, and age-appropriate assessment;
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Principals must be provided individualized professional learning to strengthen their knowledge of early childhood education; and
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Federal and state funding for school-connected early childhood programs must be a legislative priority.

Take Action

NAESP supports the seamless continuum of learning for every child across prekindergarten through the third grade.Visit NAESP’s Advocacy Action Center to see how you can support your students and school.

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