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Children’s experiences during their first years of formal schooling have an immense impact on their developmental trajectories as well as longer-term adult outcomes such as college participation and earnings (Chetty et al., 2011). Historically, kindergarten marked the beginning of children’s formal schooling experience. The first kindergartens appeared in the United States in the 1850s, and were heavily inspired by German educator Friedrich Froebel’s model, which focused on discovery, play, and social interactions. For nearly as long as kindergarten has existed, however, there have been extensive debates about its goals and the most appropriate pedagogical approach for achieving those goals. While play and social skill development are seen by many as the original objectives of kindergarten, over the past century there have been repeated calls to ...

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