Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: February 22, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412957403 | Print ISBN: 9781412956642 | Online ISBN: 9781412957403| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Early Childhood Education
Shauna M. Adams
Early childhood education refers to a range of programs and services that support young children within the context of their family. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), considered to be the leading organization in the education of young children, identifies birth through 8 as the age span that comprises early childhood. From Friedrich Froebel's “child's garden” of the late 19th century, which encouraged freedom and play; to Maria Montessori's theory grounded in respect for young children and what she coined as their “absorbent minds”; to programs today that are based on “developmentally appropriate practices,” early childhood education has taken many forms. The goals and purpose of the field have changed throughout history to reflect the concerns of the society at the time. Today, the importance of quality early childhood education has been recognized as a critical element in closing the racial and economic achievement gap and ...