Early childhood education (ECE) is the broad sector of education serving children during the early childhood years, a distinct developmental period spanning birth to age 8. ECE includes educational services provided in a wide range of settings, including child care centers, family child care homes, nursery schools, private preschools, Head Start programs, as well as public elementary schools and after-schools that offer preschool or kindergarten to third-grade programs. The primary purpose of ECE is to promote child development and early learning. This entry defines and describes ECE and its historical roots. Then it examines three key aspects of ECE: curriculum and instruction, children and families, and quality.

Overview of ECE

ECE is a complex sector of education. Whereas most ECE services for children birth to 5 are ...

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