Quality early childhood education for under-two-year-olds: What should it look like? A literature review

Recent years have seen increasing participation of under-two-year-olds in early childhood education. This literature review draws together relevant research evidence to better understand what quality early childhood education for children under-two-years of age should look like. The results of this literature review provide strong incentives for policy-makers to maintain optimum ratios of adults to infants, ongoing training including in the specialist area of infant pedagogy, and environments which facilitate low levels of stress. Research shows these variables to be of particular importance in the education and care of infants under two years of age for two key reasons. Firstly, with responsibility for a smaller number of infants, and ongoing training that keeps abreast of specialised knowledge and skills, adults are more likely to be attuned to very young children. Secondly, attuned adults and quality environments are now understood to have a marked impact on the development and learning of infants. Some of these impacts are felt immediately whilst others emerge in adolescence; all have long term implications for individuals and society. The evidence demonstrates that quality early childhood education at this very early age has lasting benefits for infants and their families – especially those from disadvantaged sectors – and for society. The high quality education and care of infants therefore constitutes a key investment in the future of Aotearoa New Zealand.
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Dalli, C., White, E.J., Rockel, J & Duhn, I (with E. Buchanan, S. Davidson, S. Ganly, L. Kus & B. Wang). (2011) Quality early childhood education for under-two-year-olds: What should it look like? A literature review. Report to the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.
Ministry of Education New Zealand
© Ministry of Education, New Zealand 2011
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