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Early Childhood Education

By Elizabeth Cryan Photography with permission from Donnell-Kay Foundation at Rocky Mountain Prep school

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Improving young children’s early learning experiences is an essential complement to K-12 reforms. Research shows that early years form the crucial foundation for children’s later learning, but that disadvantaged youngsters have less access to the types of experiences that foster learning and development, resulting in large achievement gaps even before children enter kindergarten. High-quality early childhood programs can help prevent or narrow these gaps, however, allowing children from all backgrounds to enter school prepared to succeed.

Bellwether’s work in early childhood seeks to make publicly funded programs more effective; develop innovative strategies to expand access to high-quality early learning; improve the preparation, training, and compensation of early childhood educators; and scale the work of high-performing early childhood providers. We also work to bridge the divide between K-12 and early childhood policies to help create aligned, birth-to-eight learning systems.

We advise foundations and advocacy organizations working to improve early learning outcomes and produce research, policy analysis, and ideas for the field as a whole. Although our approach is grounded in a deep knowledge of childhood development, how young children learn, and the early childhood provider and policy landscape, we also draw on relevant lessons from our K-12 work.

The content below reflects our work on this issue:

Publications

December 4, 2018
Ashley LiBetti
Early childhood educators play a crucial role in supporting the development of our nation’s youngest children. Research shows that the quality of...
February 26, 2018
Emily Workman, Lisa Guernsey, Sara Mead
Early childhood educators have a unique opportunity to foster the development of cognitive, behavioral, and social skills. But the work is not easy...
February 22, 2018
Marnie Kaplan
While there has been extensive debate about mandating degree requirements for early childhood educators, little of this debate has focused on the...
December 12, 2017
Bonnie O'Keefe
A growing number of early childhood education (ECE) programs are using coaching to support teachers’ professional development and improve the quality...
August 23, 2017
The 74 Million -- Mathematica Policy Research released a study earlier this week looking at the effects of KIPP pre-K on student achievement. The...

Blog Posts

October 30, 2019
Sara Mead
Of the 11 million young children with working mothers, more than half spend more time in family child care than any other setting. Family...
August 15, 2019
Ashley LiBetti
Last month, yet another study came out examining the effects of Head Start on children’s long-term outcomes. The findings were lackluster:...
August 13, 2019
Sara Mead
For a Vox series looking at the “nation’s most intriguing experiments in local policy,” Conor Williams of The Century Foundation takes a...