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Early Education, Children's Lives, and the Transition from Home to School in Italy and the United States

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Child care policies adopted in many countries in Western Europe in the late 1960s and early 1970s have generally evolved as part of broad based civic communities in which the federal, regional and local governments, voluntary organizations, and families work together to support children and families. In this paper I focus on child care and early education in Italy as a case study in this trend. I first examine how initial legislation calling for primarily custodial care of preschool children developed into a highly progressive early education system in which the goal is to provide a bridge for children's transition from the family to the elementary school and Italian community life more generally. I then go on to report on my ethnographic work in an Italian scuola materna to capture how early child care and education policies directly affect the lives of Italian children. The paper concludes with brief speculation regarding how U.S. policies regarding child care and early education would benefit from the adoption of some elements of the Italian model.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, U.S.A.

10.1163/002071596X00253
/content/journals/10.1163/002071596x00253
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/content/journals/10.1163/002071596x00253
1996-01-01
2016-12-10

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