Introduction Individual Preschool classrooms will vary, but DoDEA Preschool classrooms will have one thing in common: the focus will be on the development of the child as a whole.

DoDEA's Preschool program enrolls four year olds in the Americas and Guam.

DoDEA's Sure Start program enrolls four years olds in Europe, the Pacific and Cuba.

DoDEA's Preschool program for Preschool Services for Children with Disabilities (PSCD) are provided in the Americas, Europe and the Pacific for children ages three to five years of age who demonstrate a significant difference in actual functioning when compared with the functioning of a nondisabled child of the same chronological age. Eligibility determination is required under special education requirements.

DoDEA does not offer programs for three year olds, outside of Preschool Special Education. For typically developing children, DoDEA Preschool programs begin at age four.


Children follow the same development pattern (e.g., they learn to crawl before they learn to walk), but they have different growth rates (e.g., one may talk at age two, another at age three). In DoDEA, your child is viewed as an individual with their uniquely-timed growth pattern. The Prekindergarten programs in DoDEA integrate the curriculum lessons with adult and peer interactions to align with the developmental level of each child. All programs reflect a safe and nurturing environment that encourages a child's physical, social, emotional, intellectual, and language development. The learning experiences are meaningful and relevant, helping children to make connections between what is being taught and their own life and experiences. Thus, when you come into a DoDEA early childhood classroom, you'll see teachers using familiar objects and conducting activities similar to those you do at home. Making a connection between school learning and home helps a child accept the challenges of learning new information.

An essential part of early development depends upon a child's opportunity to be involved with his/her environment. Children are encouraged to explore, investigate, and respond to a variety of materials provided in their classrooms and in their home environment. DoDEA's Sure Start, Preschool Services for Children with Disabilities, and preschool programs are based on a hands-on, interactive, interest-based approach. The DoDEA standards are embedded in the activities of prekindergarten classroom centers such as Computers, Dramatic Play, Toys and Games, Sand and Water, Library, Outdoors, Music and Movement, Cooking, Discovery Science, Art and Construction.

Developmentally appropriate Preschool classrooms encourage:

  • growth of children's self-esteem;
  • their cultural identities;
  • their independence;
  • individual strengths.

Young children come to school eager to learn and possess an innate curiosity. Preschool children will begin to develop control of their own behavior through the guidance and support of warm, caring adults. Teachers will provide young children what they need to grow socially, physically, emotionally, and intellectually through a center-based approach, which is exhibited in the following ways:

  • Children have access to various activities throughout the day, such as block building, dramatic play, picture books, paints and other art materials, exploration with sand and water, music and movement, cooking and table toys such as legos, pegboards, and puzzles.
  • Teachers work with individual children, small groups, and the whole group at different times during the day.
  • Student work is displayed in the classroom (e.g. children's original artwork, their writing with temporary spelling, and dictated stories) to honor their individuality and foster a sense of accomplishment.
  • Play is an important vehicle for developing self-regulation and promoting language, cognition, and social competence.
  • Assessment in the classroom is ongoing, authentic and used for the purpose of planning, addressing individual children's needs and monitoring progress.
  • A Preschool child's physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and language development is advanced through the teaching of the DoDEA College and Career Ready Standards within the curriculum.

Preschool (DoDEA Americas and Guam) 

Preschool is a partial day, standards-based program that serves eligible military dependents and families in schools who live on stateside bases with DoDEA America schools. The Preschool curriculum promotes child development in the following domains: physical, social and emotional, cognitive, language, literacy, mathematics, science and technology, social studies, and the arts. Preschool programs are developmentally appropriate; follow an adopted curriculum, and provide safe, caring, learning environments for young children. Current adopted DoDEA College and Career Ready Standards and curriculum materials are implemented in the Preschool classroom.

Enrollment Eligibility

Preschool is a program for eligible military dependents who are currently living on a military base, stateside or Guam, with a DoDEA America school and meet the four year old age requirement (must turn four years old by September 1 of the current school year).

Sure Start (DoDEA Europe, Pacific and Cuba)

Sure Start is a full day preschool program that serves military children and families living overseas. In addition to offering a high-quality educational program that reflects best practices in the field, Sure Start also provides health and nutrition, social, and parent involvement services. Close collaboration between families, schools, and the installation community is viewed as essential and a required part of the program. This multipronged approach to the delivery of services distinguishes Sure Start from all other DoDEA programs. Current adopted DoDEA College and Career Ready Standards and curriculum materials are implemented in the Sure Start classroom.

Enrollment Eligibility

Sure Start is a program for command sponsored four year old dependents (must turn four years old by September 1 of the current school year). Children qualify for Sure Start based on the rank of the sponsor: E1-E4 or civilian rank equivalent is the first priority, E5 or civilian rank equivalent is the second priority, E6-E7 or civilian rank equivalent is the third priority and E8-E9 or civilian rank equivalent is the fourth priority. Additional selection criteria may be applied, see your local school for information.

Preschool Services for Children with Disabilities (PSCD)

PSCD programs are provided for:

  • Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA): Americas, Europe and Pacific  

The PSCD program for the young child has specifically designed instruction, support, and services for students with an identified disability which requires them to have an individually designed instructional program to meet their unique learning needs. Current adopted DoDEA College and Career Ready Standards and curriculum materials are implemented in the PSCD classroom. 

The purpose of special education is to enable students to successfully develop to their fullest potential by providing a free appropriate public education in compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as implemented by DoD Instruction 1342.12, "Provision of Early Intervention and Special Education Services to Eligible DoD Dependents." 

Enrollment Eligibility 

Preschool special education services are provided for children three to five years of age who demonstrate a significant difference in actual functioning when compared with the functioning of a nondisabled child of the same chronological age. This significant difference occurs in one or more of the developmental areas as measured using standardized evaluation instruments and confirmed by clinical observation and judgment. 

 Additional information: DoDEA Special Education Services

Contact Information:

DoDEA Early Childhood Instructional Systems Specialist
4800 Mark Center Drive
Alexandria VA 22350-1400