Early Childhood Knowledge and Learning Center

Early learning centers support children’s social, cognitive and linguistic development. They help families access health and nutrition services, developmental screenings and job training programs.

They offer healthy meals and snacks that incorporate children’s home language and culture. They encourage outdoor play and indoor work experiences that expand on children’s natural curiosity, motor explorations and learning opportunities.


Designed for children six weeks to five years old, the curriculum promotes learning through exploration and play. The program also emphasizes social and emotional preparedness. It is based on local and international pedagogies and practices that are committed to ensuring the full inclusion of ethnically and linguistically diverse young children, with and without disabilities, in all early childhood education settings.

Students who complete the ECE program can seek employment in a wide variety of child care and education settings. These include center-based and family child care networks, as well as school-based and pre-K programs for students ages three to five.

Head Start helps families whose incomes are below the poverty line access high-quality early education and health services for their children. The Office of Head Start serves ten percent of the nation’s youngest children. NCECDTL provides professional development for Head Start and Early Head Start staff. It ensures that Head Start programs have access to high-quality training and technical assistance (TTA) that is responsive to the needs of local communities and aligned with federal requirements.


A highly skilled teaching staff, including early educators with qualifications and experience appropriate for children’s learning and development, is central to high-quality care and education. Staff members use a variety of instructional approaches and are sensitive to the differences in children’s learning styles, needs, capacities, interests, and backgrounds.

Staff work together as a team and engage in continuous improvement by reflecting on strengths and growth areas through self-assessments, observations of and feedback from colleagues and families, data collection, and the implementation of quality standards. Training opportunities are provided to promote the knowledge and skills that lead to higher quality practices.

Teachers build collaborative relationships with families that are respectful and sensitive to family composition, language and culture and connect them to community resources to support their child’s learning and development. Teachers communicate with families using a variety of strategies, such as family conferences, new-family orientations, individual conversations and written communications. They also provide program information in languages that families can understand.


The program establishes and maintains respectful relationships with children’s families that are sensitive to family composition, culture, language, and traditions. The staff understands and adheres to professional and ethical guidelines.

Staff develop a variety of strategies for supporting children and youth with disabilities and developmental delays. They use flexible learning environments and activities that incorporate Universal Design for Learning principles and include multiple forms of learning (e.g., active and quiet, individual and group, indoor and outdoor).

The staff understands that early learning and development occurs within specific social, cultural and linguistic contexts. They make decisions and adjust practices in response to the unique developmental, learning and behavioral needs of each child and in partnership with each family. They regularly reflect on their teaching practices and biases and seek guidance from supervisors or professionals in related fields. They also participate in collaborative learning communities with colleagues and other professionals. They understand that the work of high-quality ECE programs is complex and requires a broad set of competencies.


From learning to roll over and walk to developing a pincer grasp, children build fine and gross motor skills through the daily activities at an early learning center. They also gain experience with art, music, dance and drama that lays the foundation for creativity.

This page offers resources to help families build a lifelong love of reading through activities that support literacy development. It also provides tips for reading together and recommends additional online resources.

This website helps families find quality child care programs that are based on research and meet national standards. It also identifies the best practices in early learning and offers advice on how to choose the right program for your family.

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