Early childhood education, or ECE, refers to organized learning environments, such as preschools, where children up to age 5 learn academics and participate in age-appropriate developmental activities. Children in many communities have access to both public school and private preschool early childhood education programs.
A main goal of ECE is to ensure that children meet developmental milestones and are adequately prepared for kindergarten. The quality of the program and professional backgrounds of early childhood educators impact the learning experience for children. Top programs have teachers with associate or bachelor's degrees in early childhood education. Many also earn a child development associate credential.