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In general terms, prekindergarten (pre-K) is a publicly funded classroom-based early childhood education program that children, typically 4 years and sometimes 3 years old, attend prior to kindergarten entry. The purpose and intent behind pre-K is to provide children with academic and social learning experiences that prepare them for success in elementary school. In the United States, there are three types of pre-K programs: the federal government’s Head Start program, state-based pre-K programs, and city/community-based pre-K programs. While these programs serve more than 2 million children and their families, there are numerous political, financial, curricular, programmatic, instructional, and familial issues affecting them. This entry begins by examining the emergence of pre-K. It then explains the differences between Head Start, state-based pre-K, and city/community-based pre-K programs ...

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