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Early Childhood Education Standards for Quality Programs for Young Children

National Association of Elementary School Principals


In a quality early childhood program, curriculum development involves staff, families, and appropriate representatives of the community.


  • The organization and implementation of an early childhood program is based on a statement of philosophy.
  • The content of the curriculum reflects a balance of all areas of learning, offered in an integrated manner and reflecting the holistic nature of learning.
  • Scheduling practices reflect the developmental stages of children ages 3 through 8.
  • The teacher uses varied teaching strategies, depending on the developmental levels of the children.
  • Classroom materials and equipment are appropriate to the developmental level of the children involved.
  • The principal promotes research-based recommended class size.
  • Grouping practices facilitate the individual student's total development.
  • The classroom environment promotes the interaction of children with materials, other children, and adults.


Quality early childhood programs are staffed at all levels by persons who have specific training and experience in working with children in the three-to-eight-year age range.


  • The principal is knowledgeable about quality early childhood programs and effective in explaining, organizing, and implementing them.
  • The principal collaborates with other groups, pro-rams, and agencies in the community to provide all needed services for children and their families.


Quality early childhood programs readily accept the principle of being held accountable.


  • The principal institutes an approach to student assessment that is consonant with developmental philosophy, curriculum, and positions taken by other professional associations involved with the appropriate testing of young children.
  • The school is ready for the children rather than expecting the children to be ready for the school.
    • The school's procedures and policies reflect both the community's standards and the children's needs.
    • Retention is rarely considered an appropriate option in a developmental program.
  • All members of the teaching staff have formal training in early childhood education.
  • The principal evaluates the teachers with evaluation instruments that reflect the most advanced early childhood philosophy and goals.
  • The principal demonstrates understanding of quality early childhood programs and provides the environment for the implementation and management of such programs.
  • The principal has developed a plan for monitoring and regularly assessing the program.


Family engagement is of basic importance to the success of all elementary school programs, and for an early childhood program it is crucial and should be a high priority for the principal.


  • The principal assures that there is regular, sustained communication between home and school.
  • The principal gets families involved both in their own child's schooling and in the operation of the school.
    • The school provides information for families on parenting issues and problems.
    • The principal works with the home and the community toward easing transitions and addressing special needs and situations.
    • Family & teacher conferences are made integral to the early childhood education process.


In quality early childhood programs the focus is not just on the child but on the family as a unit, with the child's progress and development being tied to the circumstances and needs that exist in the home.

  • The principal initiates relationships with a range of agencies and individuals whose work relates to the progress of young children.
  • The principal works with the various child-focused agencies in the community toward providing a range of services to students and their parents.
    • The principal recognizes the urgency of the need for child-care services and is in the forefront of community movement to provide those services.
    • The principal works with preschool and child care providers to assure a smooth transition into the public school.
    • The principal vigorously promotes understanding of the early childhood program.



For questions about this information, contact Sherry Kimball (608) 267-9625