The first five years of children’s lives are crucial to their development. During this period, children learn at a faster rate than at any other time in their lives, developing basic cognitive and socio-emotional skills that are fundamental for their future achievements in school and later on as an adult. These skills are also the foundation for their general well-being – how they cope with future successes and failures, professionally and in their personal lives. And in order to foster this development, children require ongoing interaction with, and care and attention from their parents and other caregivers.
For this reason, early childhood education also plays an important role. Research findings show that early childhood education and care programmes provide long-term benefits for both cognitive and socio-emotional skills, prompting many countries to increase the number of such programmes in recent decades. Moreover, there is growing interest in enhancing the quality of early childhood education programmes and children’s home environments in order to give every child a strong start early on.
Empirical research, however, is still rather limited on how children’s competences develop and are interconnected at an early age. Likewise, it would be important to gather more information on influential environmental factors at home and in early childhood education programmes that promote or deter children’s development. There is also no common framework and comparable empirical information on these topics across national jurisdictions, which is limiting the possibility of peer-learning and sharing of best practices.
These were the main reasons behind an initiative of a group of countries that were participating in the OECD’s ECEC Network for establishing an international study on early learning. The OECD responded to the call and launched the International Early Learning and Child Well-being Study in order to provide this kind of information, both at national and international levels, and allow countries to better support children’s early development and improve their long-term well-being.
˂˂ Back to the home page of the study