Successful preschool programs may differ in some ways, but they all are high quality programs, withwell-trained staff who focus attention on the needs of each of their students. In policy terms, this meansthat the programs share the following characteristics:61• Small group sizes• A partnership with parents• A sound curriculum that addresses the needs of the whole child• High adult-child ratios• Competitive staff compensation and benefits to attract and retain good staff• Well-prepared teachers and ongoing professional developmentThe following sidebar (p. 13) discusses some of these aspects of preschool program quality in greaterdetail. In addition to these important program elements, however, the methods of teaching and organizingstudent activities are highly influential in the development of social competency. Many child developmentexperts feel that early childhood programs that employ only didactic methods of instruction may failto enhance social and emotional skills.62 This type of instruction does not always provide children withopportunities to develop problem-solving abilities and may negatively affect their development of socialand emotional skills, which can have long-term consequences for learning.
December 21, 2011