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The Essential Ingredients of High-Quality Early Childhood Education Highlighted in the Week of the Young Child(TM) Celebration

"Early Years Are the Learning Years" Highlights the Critical Role Educators Play in Caring for Children

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - March 31, 2014) - The National Association for the Education of Young Children's (NAEYC) Week of the Young Child™ (April 6-12, 2014) draws attention to how a high-quality early childhood experience the first few years of life set a child's path for success in school and in life and offers tips for parents to be sure they're choosing high-quality program. 

"Week of the Young Child™ reinforces that the early years (birth through age 8) are critical learning years, and qualified early childhood professionals accelerate how our children learn, develop, build the skills to get along with others, and succeed in school and life," said Rhian Evans Allvin, NAEYC's Executive Director. "An NAEYC accredited program offers a safe, nurturing, and stimulating environment during the early years with specially skilled and knowledgeable staff and professionals can ensure children have the most positive learning experience possible." 

NAEYC offers the following tips parents can use when selecting a safe, nurturing and stimulating learning environment for their children.

For infants, a high-quality program means:

  • Group size is limited to no more than eight babies, with at least one teacher for every three children.
  • Each infant is assigned to a primary caregiver, allowing for strong bonds to form and so each teacher can get to know a few babies and families very well.
  • Teachers show warmth and support to infants throughout the day; they make eye contact and talk to them about what is going on.
  • Teachers are alert to babies' cues; they hold infants or move them to a new place or position, giving babies variety in what they can look at and do.
  • Teachers pay close attention and talk and sing with children during routines such as diapering, feeding, and dressing.
  • Teachers follow standards for health and safety, including proper hand washing to limit the spread of infectious disease.
  • Teachers can see and hear infants at all times. 
  • Teachers welcome parents to drop by the home or center at any time.

For toddlers, a high-quality program means:

  • Children remain with a primary teacher over time so they can form strong relationships.
  • The teacher learns to respond to the toddler's individual temperament, needs, and cues, and builds a strong relationship communication with the child's family.
  • Teachers recognize that toddlers are not yet able to communicate all of their needs through language; they promptly respond to children's cries or other signs of distress.
  • Teachers set good examples for children by treating others with kindness and respect; they encourage toddlers' language skills so children can express their wants and needs with words.
  • The physical space and activities allow all children to participate. For example, a child with a physical disability eats at the same table as other children.
  • Teachers frequently read to toddlers, sing to toddlers (in English and children's home languages), do finger-plays, and act out simple stories as children actively participate.
  • Teachers engage toddlers in everyday routines such as eating, toileting, and dressing so children can learn new skills and better control their own behavior.
  • Children have many opportunities for safe, active, large-muscle play both indoors and outdoors.
  • Parents are always welcome in the home or center.
  • Teachers have training in child development or early education specific to the toddler age group.

For preschoolers ages 3 to 5, a high-quality program means:

  • Children follow their own individual developmental patterns, which may vary greatly from child to child.
  • Children feel safe and secure in their environment. 
  • Children have activities and materials that offer just enough challenge -- they are neither so easy that they are boring nor so difficult that they lead to frustration.
  • Children can connect what they learn with past experiences and current interests. 
  • Children have opportunities to explore and play. 

To find a NAEYC accredited center or school and for more tips for choosing a high-quality early childhood education program go to http://families.naeyc.org

NAEYC's mission is to serve and act on behalf of the needs, rights and well-being of all young children with primary focus on the provision of educational and developmental services and resources. Founded in 1926, the National Association for the Education of Young Children is the largest and most influential advocate for high-quality early care and education in the United States. Learn more at www.naeyc.org.

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