The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) began in 1926 when professional researchers and educators joined together to organize quality nursery schools. Known as the National Association for Nursery Education (NANE), they began their mission to elevate early education with a conference in 1926 and their first publication in 1929: Minimum Essentials for Nursery Education.
During the next two decades, NANE was actively involved with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) nursery schools and the child care programs of the Lanham Act during World War II. In the 1950's, NANE opened their doors to all state, local, and regional organizations for nursery schools. With the surge of new members, they reorganized into the NAEYC in 1964, the same year that the federal Head Start program began.
In the 1980s, the National Association for the Education of Young Children established a voluntary accreditation system for early childhood programs, which was later revised in 2006. Adding to their annual conferences, NAEYC began publishing position statements and the scholarly journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly.
In the 1990s, NAEYC began publishing standards for early childhood education, and established the National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development. Membership reached the 100,000 mark and with a solid structure of affiliate groups, NAEYC established a Global Alliance in 2003 to work cooperatively with similar organizations throughout the world. As they spread around the world, NAEYC also established their presence in Congress and state capitols. Currently, they have nearly 11,000 subscribers to their federal and state public policy email updates. The NAEYC is headquartered in Washington, DC.
NAEYC's mission “to serve and act on behalf of the needs, rights and well-being of all young children with primary focus on the provision of educational and developmental services and resources,”1 birth through 8 years old is reflected in their public advocacy, conferences and meetings, accreditation guidelines, professional development resources, and two publications and a journal.2 Internet Interest Forums began in 2001 as well as the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation project to prevent child abuse: Supporting Teachers, Strengthening Families.
In 2010, the National Association for the Education of Young Children also initiated the Week of the Young Child with the theme of “Early Years are Learning Years.” The first of the six daily sub-themes was “Play: Where Learning Begins.”3 Their website has press releases, articles, and information concerning the importance of play in early childhood, both in the classroom and on the playground.The NAEYC's Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) also emphasizes the importance of play for young children.