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nursery school is the provision of education for children between the ages of 2 and 4, dependent on the jurisdiction. Also known as preschool education , day nursery, day care center or kindergarten, preschool provides education of preschool students by preschool teachers before the commencement of statutory education.

Child picking up book.

A nursery school is a school for children between the ages of three and five[1], staffed by qualified teachers and other professionals who encourage and supervise educational play rather than simply providing childcare.[1] It is generally considered part of early childhood education. In some jurisdictions the provision of nursery school services is on a user pays or limited basis while some governments fund nursery school services. Nursery school is also called preschool or nursery depending on how it is used.

Day care

Main article: Child day care

Child Care centers often work with Preschools in providing Early Childhood services to children whose parents work or go to school. Some Child Care Centers have a preschool program built into their morning routine. Still others collaborate with different preschools, child care services, Head Start programs, or Special Education Programs to provide children with the best quality programs they can be provided for an entire day.

Developmental areas

The areas of development which preschool education covers varies by jurisdiction, however the following main 'themes' are represented in the majority of systems. [2] [3]

  • Personal, social and emotional development
  • Communication, including talking and listening
  • Knowledge and understanding of the world
  • Creative and aesthetic development
  • Physical development
  • Mathematical awareness and development

Ages for and importance of preschool education

Preschool is generally considered appropriate for children three to five years of age, between the toddler and school stages. During this stage of development, children learn and assimilate information rapidly, and express interest and fascination in each new discovery. These qualities make them prime candidates for education, although most are not ready for structured elementary schooling. [How to reference and link to summary or text]

Aspects of preschoolers' abilities

For four- and five-year-olds, the average vocabulary span is between 1500 and 2000 words. One word concept that becomes very confusing to the preschool age students is literal statements, which are those phrases that explain something figuratively but not realistically. An example is “when pigs fly”; if you say this a preschooler will picture a pig actually flying.

Mathematical skills also come into use a great deal at this age. Preschoolers begin to recognize numbers better and understand the concept of numbers and their use. Rote counting, the ability to recite numbers in their proper order, is a very popular part of the curriculum for this age.

They like to do more things on their own. They love to help with anything they can and have responsibility. At this age their coordination has improved a lot and their body proportions have changed. They also become responsible for their own simple hygiene.

Methods of Preschool Education

Parents are a child's best resource for education before school. Research shows that the more time and effort parents, caregivers, or teachers at preschools give to the child, the better a preschool child will be able to adjust to their environment. [How to reference and link to summary or text]

Some preschools have adopted specialized methods of teaching, such as Montessori, Waldorf, High Scope,[2] The Creative Curriculum[3] Reggio Emilia approach, Bank Street and various other pedagogy which contribute to the foundation of education. In the United States most preschool advocates support the National Association for the Education of Young Children's Developmentally Appropriate Practices. Universal Preschool is the notion that access to preschool should be available to families in a similar way as Kindergarten. There are different perspectives on priorities for access and how it is to be funded.

Preschooling in different countries

United Kingdom

In the UK, preschool education in nursery classes or schools is fully funded by the government and is generally available to children aged over 3. Preschool education can be provided by childcare centres, playgroups, nursery schools and nursery classes within primary schools. Private nursery education is also available throughout the UK and varies between structured pre-school education and a service offering child-minding facilities.

England and Wales

Each child in =England= and =Wales=, aged 3 or 4, is entitled to a five two and a half hour sessions per week, this entitlment is subsidised by the government. [4] Preschools in England and Wales follow the Early Learning Goals for education produced by the DFES which carries on into their first year of school at age of 4, this year of school is usually called Reception. The Early Learning Goals cover the main areas of education without being subject driven. These areas include[5]:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development,
  • Communication, Language and Literacy,
  • Mathmatical Development,
  • Knowledge and Understanding of the World,
  • Physical Development,
  • Creative Developement


In =Scotland= children are entitled to a place in a nursery class when they reach their third birthday. This gives parents the option of two years of funded pre-school education before beginning primary one; the first year of compulsory education. Nursery children who are three years old are referred to as Ante-Pre School whilst children who are 4 years old are termed Pre-School. Pre-school education in Scotland is planned around the document "A curriculum framework for children 3 to 5"[6] which identifies learning intentions around the following five areas of development:

  • emotional, personal and social development,
  • communication and language,
  • knowledge and understanding of the world,
  • expressive and aesthetic development,
  • physical development and movement

Responsibility for the review of care standards in Scottish nurseries rests with the Care Commission.

United States

In the =United States=, nursery school is provided in a variety of settings. In general pre-kindergarten work is meant to develop children through planned programs.

Pre-kindergarten is defined as: "center-based programs for 4-year olds that are fully or partially funded by state education agencies and that are operated in schools or under the direction of state and local education agencies"[7].

Head Start program

The goal of Head Start and Early Head Start is to increase the school readiness of young children in low income families. These programs serve children from birth to age 5, pregnant women, and their families. Head Start was started by the Federal Government in 1964 to help meet the needs of disadvantaged preschool children.

The office of Economic Opportunity launched Project Head Start as an 8 week summer program in 1965. It was then transferred to the Office of Child Development in the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1969. Today it is a program within the Administration on Children, Youth and Families in the Department of Health and Human Services. Programs are administered locally by school systems and non-profit organizations.

  • Services provided by Head Start
  1. Disabilities - All programs fully include children with disabilities
  2. Education - The goal of Head Start is to ensure that those children enrolled in the program are ready to begin school. Activities are geared towards skill and knowledge domains.
  3. Family and Community Partnerships - both groups are involved in the operation, governance and evaluation of the program.
  4. Health - Health is seen as an important factor in a child's ability to thrive and develop. The program provides screenings to evaluate a child's overall health, regular health check-ups, and good practices in oral health, hygiene, nutrition, personal care, and safety.
  5. Program Management and Operations - "focus on delivering high-quality child development services to children from low-income families."

See also

  • Project headstart
  • Universal preschool


External links

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