A European Perspective
Edited by Catherine Sofer
Chapter 1: The economics of early childhood education: a survey
1 Wim Groot, Henriëtte Maassen van den Brink, Simone Dobbelsteen and Noortje van Mierlo 1. INTRODUCTION The development of skills and competences starts well before children reach the age of compulsory education. The transfer of skills and competences in the pre-school period is largely of an informal nature. At this age competences are mostly acquired in a (non-professional) educational situation, such as the family and neighbourhood in which the child grows up. However, there is a development in the direction of more formalized learning and nurturing situations for children in the pre-school age. The most prominent example of this is the increased use of formal childcare, as provided by day care centres, nursery schools and kindergartens. Broadly speaking the early childhood educational arrangements consist of childcare arrangements and social programmes aimed at the (pedagogical) development of children at an early age. Three reasons can be given for this increased interest in early childhood education. These correspond with the two types of early childhood education just distinguished: general childcare arrangements and compensatory education programmes. The first reason is that nowadays in most European countries early childhood education services are widely accepted as suitable for the cognitive, socio-emotional and physical development of children. Spurred by new evidence from brain research that shows that stimulation and development of cognitive capabilities of infants and young children may have longterm consequences, there is a growing interest in formalized institutions and arrangements for child development at a very early age. The second reason is the...
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