Why Quality Matters

The quality of a child’s future depends on the quality of caregiving in the first five years.

First-rate early learning programs that are safe, healthy, stimulating, organized, and, most importantly, led by well-trained teachers, help children enter school ready to learn and succeed.

What you want to see in an early education environment:

  • Educated, attentive and engaged teachers and staff
  • Teachers with four-year degrees and specific training in early childhood education
  • No more than 8 infants and toddlers and no more than 20 preschoolers in a classroom
  • Teacher to child ratios of 1:3 for infants and 1:10 for preschoolers
  • Teachers who crouch to eye-level to speak to children, and who hold, cuddle, show affection and speak directly to infants and toddlers
  • Families and teachers exchanging information about the child’s development and learning progress
  • A safe, healthy and child-friendly environment
  • A room well-equipped with sufficient materials and toys
  • Classrooms in which materials and activities are placed at eye level for the children
  • Materials and toys accessible to children in an orderly display
  • Centers that encourage safe, outdoor playtime
  • Frequent hand-washing by children and adults
  • Visitors welcomed with appropriate parental consent
  • Stimulating activities and appropriately structured routines
  • Children who are engaged in their activities
  • Children offered breakfast and lunch and a time to nap
  • Children participating with teachers and each other in individual, small-group, and large-group activities
  • Children receiving a variety of stimuli in their daily routine using indoor and outdoor spaces and age-appropriate language, literacy, math, science, art, music, movement, and dramatic play experiences
  • Preschoolers who are allowed to play independently

What you don’t want to see in an early education environment:

  • Inattentive, overwhelmed or unengaged staff
  • Unengaged teachers sitting on the side of the classroom but not participating
  • Shouting, swearing or other displays of hostile discipline
  • Infants and toddlers crying without being attended to
  • An unsafe, unhealthy or unstimulating environment
  • Small, cramped centers or homes without designated appropriate spaces for different ages
  • A center or home that smells of urine, has visible safety risks or is unclean
  • Frequent use of television or video to occupy children
  • Children easily distracted or frightened by visiting strangers
  • Activities and routines that are too chaotic or too inflexible
  • Children wandering aimlessly, left unsupervised or displaying unchecked aggression
  • Children restrained in car seats or in high chairs at times other than meal time
  • Children spending a lot of time waiting around for turns
  • Children expected to sit at desks, perform highly structured tasks, or other forms of age-inappropriate expectations