How Can NAEYC Help Your Preschooler?

Learn more about the National Association for the Education of Young Children

The National Association for the Education of Young Children is an important advocacy group that, among other things, accredits preschools and offers professional development for educators and support for families. Miodrag Gajic/Vetta/Getty Images

There are many groups that exist today with the purpose of offering support and guidance to young children, their parents, and preschool educators. One of the biggest and most powerful is the National Association for the Education of Young Children or NAEYC. 

Preschool Accrediting Association

NAEYC is the largest accrediting organization for preschool programs. Accreditation is a voluntary process that schools undergo in order to prove that they meet certain academic, social and quality standards. Accreditation generally has three steps: a self-assessment done by the school, an outside assessment done by the accrediting body and approval.

To receive accreditation, preschool and early childhood education programs are measured against NAEYC's Early Childhood Program Standards that evaluate 10 key areas: relationships, curriculum, teaching, assessment of child progress, health, teachers, families, community relationships, physical environment and leadership, and management. NAEYC has ​four steps to accreditation: enrollment/self-study, application/self-assessment, candidacy, and meeting the standards. 

"Accreditation systems are a major part of NAEYC's efforts to improve early childhood education; they allow programs to provide the best learning experiences for young children and their educators by meeting national standards of quality," the group said in a statement.

Since 1985, when the group started the accreditation process, NAEYC has accredited over 10,000 schools, less than 10 percent of preschools nationwide. New standards were introduced in 2006.

There are many programs that are currently in the process of becoming accredited and therefore will not be listed on the NAEYC website. For more information, inquire at the school you are considering enrolling your child in.

Preschool Advocacy

NAEYC also serves as an advocacy group that promotes, "... high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy, and research. We advance a diverse, dynamic early childhood profession and support all who care for, educate, and work on behalf of young children."

According to a position paper, NAEYC, in conjunction with the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS/SDE) "believe that early learning standards can be a valuable part of a comprehensive, high-quality system of services for young children." However, the groups caution that these standards must meet the following criteria:

  • Emphasize significant, developmentally appropriate content and outcomes;
  • Are developed and reviewed through informed, inclusive processes;
  • Are implemented and assessed in ways that support all young children’s development; and
  • Are accompanied by strong support for early childhood programs, professionals, and families. 

A Group for Early Childhood Educators

For educators, NAEYC offers professional training and development, as well as a host of resources in the form of publications and websites. The group also hosts three annual events for early childhood educators, administrators, and advocates: the NAEYC Annual Conference and Expo, the National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development, and the NAEYC Public Policy Forum.

A Resource for Parents

For parents and caregivers, NAEYC offers resources including tips on how to find the best preschool for your child, as well as articles and tip sheets on parenting and getting the best education for your children. 

Contact information:
1313 L St. N.W. Suite 500
Washington DC, 20005

Pronunciation: NAEYC rhymes with "Gracie"

Also Known As: NAEYC

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