What is the age range of children falling under Early Childhood Education? What is the period of Early Childhood Education?

What is the age range of children falling under Early Childhood Education?

What is the period of Early Childhood Education?


The period ‘Early Childhood’ has been undergoing a considerable change. In the beginning it
was understood to be ‘birth to five, then it was changed to ‘birth to six’ and presently ‘birth to
eight’ is considered as Early Childhood period.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), on its website,
states – ‘Early childhood is defined as the period from birth to eight years old.’
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) considers Early
Childhood period from birth through age eight (several documents of NAEYC).

The Constitution of India was amended through Eighty-sixth Amendment, which is as follows – Article 45 shall stand substituted by the Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002, s.
3 as – “45. Provision for early childhood care and education to children below the age of six
years.- The State shall endeavour to provide early childhood care and education for all children
until they complete the age of six years.”

National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy, 2013 defines Early Childhood as
‘the formative stage of the first six years of life’.

Law Commission of India in its Report No. 259 has considered the early Childhood period as
birth to Six Years.

National Council of Educational Research and Training in its Position Paper on Early
Childhood Education by National Focus Group states – ‘Early childhood is the period from
conception to age 8’. In its ‘Preamble’ it also states the reason for extending it beyond age 6 as
“The other reason for extending the span of early childhood from 6 to 8 years is to ensure a
gradual and smooth transition from pre-primary to primary education …”.

World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education Building the Wealth of Nations
(Moscow Framework for Action and Cooperation, 2010) adopted Early Childhood period from
zero to eight years of age.

UNICEF India views the Early Childhood period on its website as – “Early childhood is defined
as the period from conception through eight years of age.”

It is also noteworthy to mention here that, Integrated Child Development Services Scheme
(ICDS) India’s flagship program of Early Childhood Development “takes care of all-round
developmental needs of children who are below six years of age”.

Thus the “age range/period” varies from paper to paper, but, I would, for my education purposes keep the Early Childhood period as a period of ‘birth (or rather conception) to eight years of age.

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