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Preschool programs that maintain high standards of quality provide children, especially those at risk,
with skills that will assist them in their social and academic adjustment to elementary school. Highquality
preschool is organized in ways that allow children to form close, sustained relationships with
teachers and encourage positive interactions with peers. Small group sizes and high adult-child ratios,
competitive staff compensation and benefits, professional development, and other aspects of the
program are geared toward fostering strong relationships and reducing teacher turnover. These components
have been associated with positive social and emotional outcomes for children, including
greater compliance, sociability, attention, self-regulation, and peer relations as well as lower rates
of negative affect and behavior problems.70
A program’s quality may also be determined by the qualifications required of the teachers and staff.
Teachers with four-year degrees and specialization in early childhood are better prepared to develop
meaningful relationships with their students and create safe, nurturing climates that support children’s
emotional well being. Children cared for by teachers who are highly involved and invested during
their preschool years have been found to be less likely to display behavior problems in kindergarten
and demonstrate increased social skills through elementary school.71 High teacher-student ratios allow
for the development of these relationships, which provide stability in transitions to new classrooms,
contribute to increased social skills, and improve emotional stability.72
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has conducted extensive
research that has contributed to a better understanding of the relationship between preschool quality
and child outcomes. The research has shown that higher quality preschool programs defined by high
teacher-student ratios, group sizes and higher teacher qualifications results in more responsive teaching
and fewer behavior problems from children.73 Children who attend higher quality preschool have also
been reported to have fewer behavior problems, closer relationships with their mothers, and to be
better prepared for school


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