Giving Compass' Take:

• NPR interviews Suzanne Bouffard, author of the book "The Most Important Year," about what constitutes an effective pre-K program and how we can support better early childhood initiatives.

• The upshot is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It's important to understand that kids develop behavioral and learning skills at different stages, and the best programs are ones that are flexible.

• Here's why economically integrated pre-K classrooms are good for kids.

Successful pre-K programs teach children to learn to be learners, how to be curious about how things work and find answers to problems.

You want to have hands-on experiences and opportunities for children to learn about things that apply to their lives. Good teachers always engage children in rich conversations and ask them open-ended questions, what they think and what they want to know.

Young children develop skills at different rates. Some learn to walk first. Some learn to talk first. But by the time they get to school, unless there's some kind of developmental problem, they're all walking and talking. It doesn't really matter if they started walking or talking at 10 months or 14 months.

Another really important piece of a good program is that it focuses on things like self-control and behavior in the class, how to wait your turn, how to share, how to deal with frustration and how to solve conflicts. Those are skills kids are just beginning to develop at 3, 4 and 5 years old.

Reading is the same way. There's a completely normal range of development in which children start learning how to read. If you push too hard, sometimes it turns kids off.

Now that being said, it's never too early to expose children to rich language, word games, shapes of letters and the sounds they make. But there's a big difference between exposing children to those things and expecting everybody to meet a certain reading standard at a certain age and testing them on it.

Read the full article on successful pre-K programs by Claudio Sanchez at NPR.