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Early Child Education (ECE) is a branch of education theory which relates to the teaching of young children (formally and informally) up until the age of about eight. Infant/toddler education, a subset of Early child Education , denotes the education of children from birth to age two. In recent years, early childhood education has become a prevalent public policy issue, as municipal, s State funding for pre-K increased by $363.6 million to a total of $5.6 billion, a 6.9% increase from 2012 to 2013. 40 states fund pre-K programs.
In the past decade, there has been a national push for state and federal policy to address the early years as a key component of public education. At the federal level, the Obama administration made the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge a key tenet of their education reform initiative, awarding $500 million to states with comprehensive early childhood education plans. In addition, a largely Democratic contingent sponsored the Strong Start for America’s Children Act in 2013, which provides free early childhood education for low-income families. Specifically, the Act would generate the impetus and support for states to expand ECE; provide funding through formula grants and Title II (Learning Quality Partnerships), III (Child Care) and IV (Maternal, Infant and Home Visiting) funds; and hold participating states accountable for Head Start early learning standards.
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Scope and Importance:
In recent decades, studies have shown that early childhood education is critical in preparing children to enter and succeed in the (grade school) classroom, diminishing their risk of social-emotional mental health problems and increasing their self-sufficiency as adults. Visual stimulus and response time as early as 3 months can be an indicator of verbal and performance IQ at age 4 years.
Currently, one of America's larger challenges regarding ECE is an dearth in workforce, partly due to low compensation for rigorous work. The average early childhood teaching assistant earns an annual salary of $10,500 while the highest paid early childhood educators earn an average $18,000 per year. The turnover of ECE staff averages 31% per year. Another challenge is to ensure the quality of ECE programs. Because ECE is a relatively new field, there is little research and consensus into what makes a good program. However, the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is a national organization that has identified evidence-based ECE standards and accredits quality programs. Continuing the leadership role it established with the Common Core, the federal government could play a key role in establishing ECE standards for states.
Relevant Society and Associations:
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This page was last updated on May 25, 2020