Top-rated programmes

Early childhood education

Educator's summary

As a PDF document

As web pages:
- Key findings
- Top-rated programmes
- Programmes with limited evidence
- Other programmes
- Review methods

Full report

As a PDF document (68 pages)

Strong Evidence of Effectiveness

Programmes in this category have at least two studies, one of which is a large randomised or randomised quasi-experimental study, or multiple smaller studies, with a sample size-weighted effect size of at least +0.20, and a collective sample size across all studies of 250 pupils or 20 classes. The effects can be on any of the academic or cognitive outcomes, at the end of preschool and/or reception.

Available in the UK

Curiosity Corner
A comprehensive cognitive-development programme developed by the Success for All Foundation. It aims to develop the attitudes, skills and knowledge necessary for later school success with an emphasis on children's language and literacy skills.
Contact/ Website (Product training provided)

Not available in the UK

Direct Instruction
First developed as an instructional method to teach at-risk children. It is a teacher-directed programme in which specific cognitive and literacy skills are broken down into small units and taught explicitly.
Early Literacy and Learning Model (ELLM)
A literacy-focused curriculum and support system designed for young children from low-income families. It is designed to enhance existing classroom curricula by focusing on children's early literacy skills and knowledge.
Interactive Book Reading
Designed to promote language and literacy proficiency in young children, the progamme is basically an adaptation of the Dialogic Reading programme.
More information can be found here and in the journal article Wasik BA & Bond MA  (2001),  Beyond the Pages of a Book: Interactive Book Reading and Language Development in Preschool Classrooms.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(2), 243-250.
Let's Begin with the Letter People
Emphasises early language and literacy development by learning through play. In addition to classroom teaching, the programme has a strong home/parent component.
Ready, Set, Leap
A comprehensive preschool curriculum, published by LeapFrog SchoolHouse, which combines research-based instructional approaches with multisensory technology.

Moderate Evidence of Effectiveness

Programmes in this category have at least one randomised or two matched studies of any qualifying design, with a collective sample size of 125 pupils or 10 classes, and a weighted mean effect size of at least +0.20.

Available in the UK

Breakthrough to Literacy
A systematic and integrated literacy and language programme published by the Wright Group, which aims to promote language development and literacy skills to preschool children.
Contact/ Website

Not available in the UK

Bright Beginnings
An integrated curriculum with a focus on language and early literacy. The curriculum goals are to provide a child-centred, literacy-focused programme and to include teaching that addresses the whole child.
Building Blocks PreK Mathematics plus DLM Express
29 small-group mathematics activities with concrete manipulatives for use by teachers and children in preschool classrooms as well as 19 home mathematics activities and materials, sent home every one to two weeks.
DLM Express plus Open Court
The PCER Florida State University research team implemented DLM Early Childhood Express comprehensive curriculum in conjunction with the Open Court Reading Pre-K literacy-focused curriculum as part of the PCER project. This has been considered as a separate programme as the effects represent the two programmes combined.
Project Approach
A set of teaching strategies that enables teachers to guide children through in-depth investigations of real world topics. The curriculum is designed to use children’s interests as the starting point for organising and developing classroom learning activities.