This article examines the research literature to determine whether the provision of quality early childhood education (ECE) lowers the risk of a child developing special education needs (SEN) and mediates the intensity of support for children with an identified exceptionality. Schools play a crucial role in reducing developmental gaps assessed at school entry, but their success comes with great expense in special education and related costs. Research indicates that ECE could narrow these gaps and better prepare children for success in school, and this realization is slowly being reflected in public policy. Based on our literature review, we describe the benefits of quality ECE in lowering special education expenses. Specific play-based learning pedagogical strategies support all children in optimizing academic progress, language development, social skills, and emotional-behavioural regulation. Professional learning for early childhood educators can build capacity to embed effective pedagogy into daily practice. The provision of quality ECE that makes a difference depends on the knowledge and skills of this workforce.
Young, G. D., Philpott, D., Butler, E., Maich, K., & Penney, S. C. (2019) Exploring the Impact of Quality Early Child Education on Special Education: Can We Prevent Placement in Special Education?. Exceptionality Education International, 29, 6-21. Retrieved from https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/eei/vol29/iss3/2