Wednesday | February 21, 2001

When considering how to improve the education and care of very young children, there are many reasons to begin with a focus on the cognitive development of their knowledge and skills. While this may seem obvious to many, historically it has been a matter of considerable contention among the array of caregivers dealing with preschool children, toodlers and infants in the U.S. While placing priority emphasis on the education piece of early care is still controverisal in this country, the U.S. discussion about what approach is best is being influenced and enriched by the publication of new research and by a growing interest in the highly successful interventions being implemented by other nations.

The organizers wanted to explore the proposition that substance-specific and skill-specific early education should be the core of preschool programs. The meeting was designed to elicit a full discussion on what the educational essentials should be, and on the implications of these decisions for the staffing of quality programs. By using this starting point, we hope to engage those who have been working on the underlying issues for years, as well as newcomers who may be able to surface fresh perspectives and stimulate the involvement of new constituencies.