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Preschool and Child Care

What Is High Quality Pre-K?

When you walk into a high-quality pre-K classroom you immediately see learning occurring. The following elements are critical to providing the sense of purpose, organization, and excitement that creates the best results for children.


  • Teachers in high-quality pre-k programs hold bachelor’s degrees and have received specialized training in early childhood education.
  • Teacher aides have a child development associate credential, at a minimum.
  • Teachers and aides are required to devote at least 15 hours each year to appropriate professional development.
  • Teachers and aides are paid salaries and receive benefits that are on par with those of K-12 teachers and aides.
  • High-quality programs recruit teachers and aides who reflect the cultural diversity of the children and families they serve.


  • High-quality programs respect and support each family’s home language and at-home teaching efforts.
  • Family members and teachers exchange information about the child’s strengths and successes, favorite activities, and learning progress.
  • Family members are engaged in the program through conferences with teachers, home visits, opportunities to assist in the classroom, and other activities.
  • Family members are offered information about nutrition, parenting, and social services, when needed.


  • High-quality pre-k programs allow no more than 20 children in a classroom.
  • Each class has no more than ten children for every one teacher.


  • A high-quality pre-k curriculum sets goals specific to pre-k and uses learning and developmental standards that are research-based,
  • age-appropriate, and aligned with the state’s K-12 standards.
  • The curriculum builds on each child’s interests and natural curiosity and gives children opportunities to direct their own learning.
  • The curriculum provides daily learning opportunities for language and reasoning, science, math, block play, dramatic play, art, and music.
  • The curriculum provides learning opportunities in a variety of settings, including whole-class activities, work in small groups, and individual interactions with the teacher.
  • The curriculum supports the development of each child’s home language and helps each child learn English.
  • The curriculum provides integrated learning across children’s cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development.

Comprehensive Care

  • High-quality pre-k programs provide vision, hearing, and general-health screenings in order to identify children’s special needs early and make appropriate referrals.
  • Children are offered breakfast and/or lunch and a time to nap.
  • All children, including those with disabilities or special behavioral needs, are provided with appropriate supports and services.

Pre-K Now. (2008). What is High Quality? [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved from