ety; studies of programs for English-language learners; and descriptions of exemplary programs in other countries. These literatures provide insight into important components of the quality of preschool programs, one of which is support for cognitive development. Other literatures (including research in cognitive science) focus less on the study of preschool programs and more on the study of children’s development and their learning in specific cognitive domains, such as reading, mathematics, and science. These literatures also have implications for curriculum content and pedagogy.


There are a number of broadly supported findings regarding components of quality preschool programs:

  • Cognitive, social-emotional (mental health), and physical development are complementary, mutually supportive areas of growth all requiring active attention in the preschool years. Social skills and phy-sical dexterity influence cognitive development, just as cognition plays a role in children’s social understanding and motor competence. All are therefore related to early learning and later academic achievement and are necessary domains of early childhood pedagogy.

  • Responsive interpersonal relationships with teachers nur ture young children’s dispositions to learn and their emerging abilities. Social competence and school achievement are influenced by the quality of early teacher-child relationships, and by teachers’ attentiveness to how the child approaches learning.

  • Both class size and adult-child ratios are correlated with greater program effects. Low adult-child ratios are associated with more extensive teacher-child interaction, more individualization, and less restrictive and controlling teacher behavior. Smaller group size has been associated with more child initiations, and more opportunities for teachers to work on extending language, mediating children’s social interactions, and encouraging and supporting exploration and problem solving.

  • While no single curriculum or pedagogical approach can be identified as best, children who attend well-planned, high-

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