Early Childhood Education
If optimal learning is desirable what are quality practices and how should those environments or opportunities for children look like? Research suggests that children learn in places where:
- Learning is a cooperative journey shared by many, not a competitive race between individuals.
- Knowledge is defined as mental constructs that are drawn out rather than information that is handed out.
- Diversity is celebrated and the talents and strengths of each child are recognized and nourished.
- Concrete materials, quality literature, technology, and a variety of resource materials are used.
- An array of learning opportunities are provided from which a child and family can choose.
- Instruction is integrated which requires problem-solving and decision-making.
- A variety of practices currently guide quality early childhood programs. Brief summaries follow, and you can get additional information by going to the various websites provided.
- A broad base of stakeholders have come together to find common ground, determine assets, and develop a "blended" approach for community supports.
- Different funding streams are utilized to support the facility such as: education (kindergarten aids, special education, Title I part A or B), Head Start, child care, health.
- Program and community resources are shared among programs.
- Several programs are housed in one facility; such as child care, Head Start, public school, disability services, parent education and support, family resource, health care, or social services.
- The facility supports children with appropriate environments.
- The facility supports parents with a parent room and/or resource center.
- Children are in similar classrooms, not classrooms segregated by program type, family income, or child's ability/disability.
- The curriculum follows developmentally appropriate practices which are responsive to child's learning style, age, ability/disability and cultural/family values.
- Facility/service is available a minimum of 9 hours a day.
- Facility/service is available at least 45 weeks a year.
- Children's goals, objectives, outcomes are jointly planned.
- Support services exist to meet the individual needs of children such as disability services.
- Access exists to health care services such as WIC clinics, immunizations, etc.A family-centered philosophy offers partnerships with parents in all phases.
- A range of services are available which support families in their parenting and working roles such as parent education, Family Literacy, and adult education.
- Center serves as a neighborhood hub making connections/referrals to other providers and the community at large to ensure access to comprehensive supports for the child and family.
- Staffing patterns support low adult-child ratio and team teaching.
- Staff development supports career ladders and professional development.
- Shares responsibility among families, providers, the public sector, and the private sector.
- Staff and families play an important role in deciding how funds are spent and how programs operate.
- Accountability is results based.
- There is ongoing evaluation/assessment by all stakeholders.