Nursery School

A nursery school is a school for children between the ages of one and five years, staffed by suitably qualified and other professionals who encourage and supervise educational play rather than simply providing childcare. It is a pre-school education institution, part of early childhood education.

Nursery in England is also called FS1 which is the first year of foundation before they go into primary or infants.

The curriculum goals of a nursery school are more specific than for childcare, but less strenuous than for primary school. For example, the Scottish Early Years Framework and the Curriculum for Excellence define expected outcomes even at this age. In some areas, the provision of nursery school services is on a user pays or limited basis while other governments fund nursery school services.

Names
The preschool education institution is more commonly known as kindergarten (children's garden), a name given by the German Friedrich Fröbel who created the first institution in Germany, in 1837. The other common names for nursery school are pre-school, playschool, playgroup and nursery. The German word Kindergarten is also used in many non-English-speaking countries to denote a form of pre-school education. However, in the United States, Canada and some parts of Australia kindergarten is instead the term used to describe the first year of compulsory schooling. The word kindergarten is not generally used in the UK.

Advantages
In May 2007, Slate Magazine published an article discussing the results of a working paper by Nobel Prize winner James Heckman of the University of Chicago and Dimitriy Masterov of the University of Michigan about the social and economics benefits of nursery school for disadvantaged children, claiming that more investment in such children at an earlier age is needed to supplement the role of the family.

The reasons given include the importance of early years in cognitive development, the trouble many families have in providing adequate early-childhood nurturing, and the advantage such programs give students starting the next step in their education. The study considered a number of early childhood educational pilot programs for at risk children, similar to Head Start, but more intense, such as the Perry Project in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Over 40 years of the children's lives, participants showed greater literacy, higher grades, greater likelihood to graduate high school, higher post-high school employment rates, higher earnings, less need for welfare, committed less crime, and had lower rates of teen pregnancy. The rate of returns to the children was estimated to be 16 percent (about 3/4 of this is calculated from the decreased social cost due to lower crime and less prison spending).

The authors also propose that the return on investment declines with age. This study is significant because it advocates spending as an economic investment in a society's future, rather than in the interest of justice.

In the United States, nursery school is provided in a variety of settings. In general pre-school is meant to develop children through planned programs.

Pre-school is defined as: "center-based programs for four-year olds that are fully or partially funded by state education agencies and that are operated in schools or under the direction of state and local education agencies".

Pre-schools, both private and school sponsored, are available for children aged from three to five. Many of these programs follow similar curriculum as pre-kindergarten.

Head Start program
The goal of Head Start and Early Head Start is to increase the school readiness of young children in low income families. These programs serve children from birth to age five, pregnant women, and their families. Head Start was started by the Federal Government in 1964 to help meet the needs of disadvantaged pre-school children.

The office of Economic Opportunity launched Project Head Start as an eight-week summer program in 1965. It was then transferred to the Office of Child Development in the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1969. Today it is a program within the Administration on Children, Youth and Families in the Department of Health and Human Services. Programs are administered locally by school systems and non-profit organizations.

Services provided by Head Start
    Disabilities - All programs fully include children with disabilities

    Education - The goal of Head Start is to ensure that those children enrolled in the program are ready to begin school. Activities are geared towards skill and knowledge domains.

    Family and Community Partnerships - both groups are involved in the operation, governance and evaluation of the program.

    Health - Health is seen as an important factor in a child's ability to thrive and develop. The program provides screenings to evaluate a child's overall health, regular health check-ups, and good practices in oral health, hygiene, nutrition, personal care, and safety.

    Program Management and Operations - "focus on delivering high-quality child development services to children from low-income families."

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