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In most public schools, children begin school in kindergarten. Recently, many school systems have begun to implement programs for preschoolers, ages three and four. Georgia introduced the first statewide universal pre-K program in 1995 which offers all 4 year old children free preschool. New York, Oklahoma and Florida have followed (Barnett & Hustedt, 2003). Tennessee recently passed a bill to use $25 million of lottery money to fund preschool for children considered "at risk" ("Latest Pre-Kindergarten News," n.d.). The substantial amount of research involving brain development has stressed the importance of quality experiences in the early years of life (birth-8 years). Why not house these programs along with childcare in a public school? And, better yet, why not design a program and building for children six weeks through II years of age (traditional grade five age) which is based upon early childhood practices and incorporates constructivist principles? That is exactly what educators in a small, diversified school district in Northeast Tennessee did when the system committed to creating a "21st Century" elementary school.

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© Association for Constructivist Teaching. This document was published with permission by the organization. It was originally published in The Constructivist