Early Childhood Education
One of the cornerstones of Boston's reform agenda has been to provide all children with a strong and early start to their formal education.
In 1998, Boston opened three new early education centers, providing "surround care" to students ages 3 through 6, including those with and without disabilities. Since then, Boston Public Schools also has guaranteed a full-day kindergarten seat to every five-year-old in the city.
Under the leadership of Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the City of Boston and the Boston Public Schools also partnered with numerous community-based organizations to launch Countdown to Kindergarten, to help families and students prepare for a successful transition to school.
In recent years, the district has expanded early childhood programs for four-year-olds, known as Kindergarten 1 or K1, with nearly than 2,300 “K1” seats available in September 2011, up from 700 seats in 2005 -- with seven more classes being added for the 2012-2013 school year.
Today, we offer K1 seats in 85% of our elementary schools, Early Learning Centers and K-8 schools. As part of Superintendent Johnson's Acceleration Agenda, BPS is implementing uniform math and literacy programs across K1, including teacher training and coaches.
14 of our programs have earned national accreditation for early childhood programming from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
For even younger children, Boston offers several free parent-child play groups for children ages 1-3 and their caregivers. They are led by an early childhood educator and include time for free play, circle time, snack, and gross motor/sensory play. (Click here for more information). We offer play groups in:
- East Boston
- Jamaica Plain, and
Thrive in Five is Boston's birth-to-five school readiness initiative. This comprehensive and inclusive strategic planning process is dedicated to strengthening Boston’s commitment to early care and education, improve the health of Boston's children and families, improve the quality of and family engagement in the public schools which young children enter, and much more.
Studies show BPS Early Childhood Education helps close achievement gaps
Internal and independent studies reveal that enrolling in BPS earlier than K2 has positive effects on student performance in both the short and long terms. The positive effects of K1 programs on student achievement apply to all students, including English Language Learners and students with disabilities.
For example, we compared the results of the 2011 3rd grade MCAS ELA scores for BPS students who did and did not attend K1 programs. Students who attended K1 programs were 27% more likely to score advanced or proficient than those who did not.
- See the full BPS report here.
- See the results of a 2012 Harvard Graduate School of Education study here.
For more information, contact the Early Childhood Education office.