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EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT AND LEARNING: NEW KNOWLEDGE FOR POLICY
tant implications for educational practice—what and how teachers teach— and for policy, for example, state education standards.
This booklet includes executive summaries of five reports that, taken together, provide policy makers, educators, and parents with important tools for progress. It is intended for federal administrators, members of Congress, leaders of nongovernmental organizations, and others who want to use the best available science to develop policies to promote child development and education. Conducted under the auspices of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education of the National Research Council—the Academies' operating arm—and the Institute of Medicine, these studies exemplify the contributions of science in charting new directions for policies and programs.
From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development integrates the latest scientific evidence about children's extraordinary capacities for physical, emotional, and social growth and learning in the earliest years of their lives. Well before they walk through a classroom door, these early experiences matter because they can provide opportunities or obstacles that affect early learning and subsequent academic success. Yet far too little attention is given to these crucial years.
Today as never before, the nation needs to apply advancing knowledge to help children and families negotiate the changing demands and opportunities as we enter the 21st century. Dramatic transformations have occurred in the social and economic circumstances of families with young children. The number of working parents has increased significantly, leading to a pressing demand for quality child care and greater difficulty in balancing work and family responsibilities for families at all income levels. Despite these and other changes, our nation's responses to the needs of young children and their families were largely formulated decades ago with only incremental revisions since then.
From Neurons to Neighborhoods presents conclusions and recommendations drawn from a rich and extensive knowledge base and grounded in four core themes:
All children are born wired for feelings and ready to learn.
Early environments matter and nurturing relationships are essential.
Society is changing and the needs of young children are not being addressed.
Interactions among early childhood science, policy, and practice demand dramatic rethinking.
From Neurons to Neighborhoods, which has received considerable attention in the media, offers an authoritative guide to what science-based