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EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT AND LEARNING: NEW KNOWLEDGE FOR POLICY
policies would mean for our society's youngest members. For example, research highlights the need for early childhood programs that balance their focus on literacy and numeracy skills with comparable attention to the emotional, regulatory, and social development of all children, including those with special needs. Investments in child care should ensure that all early care and education settings are safe, stimulating, and compatible with the values and priorities of their families. Nurturing and sustained relationships between preschoolers and qualified caregivers are essential, and the time for greater skills, compensation, and benefits for child care professionals is long overdue. This comprehensive study calls for a federal-state-local task force to review public investments in child care and early education and develop a blueprint for a high quality, locally responsive system for the new decade.
Eager to Learn: Educating Our Preschoolers explores what it will take to provide early education and care for children that would develop their impressive learning potential. The report integrates recent research findings on how young children learn and the impact of early learning on later development and school achievement. Reinforcing many of the findings in From Neurons to Neighborhoods, it highlights the importance of warm emotional relationships with adults in fostering a child's cognitive as well as social development. It includes findings about the interplay of biology and environment, and variations in learning preparedness among children from different social and economic groups. The report probes a number of key issues:
The importance of a responsive teacher-child relationship in a child 's cognitive, social, and emotional development.
The substantial variation among children in developmental pathways, temperament, and environmental and cultural influences.
The learning needs of disadvantaged children and children with disabilities.
Evidence regarding the features of preschool programs, curricula, and teaching style that produce positive outcomes for children.
Preparation and continuing development of teachers.
Eager to Learn issues a range of recommendations to parents, educators, and policy makers. It calls for a substantial investment in a high-quality system of child care and preschool on the basis of the convergence of scientific and practical considerations. And it calls for systematic and widespread public education to increase public understanding of the importance of stimulating early learning experiences in the lives of young children.