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High-Quality Early Childhood Programs: The What, Why, and How

High-Quality Early Childhood Programs: The What, Why, and How

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High-Quality Early Childhood Programs: The What, Why, and How

5/5 (1 évaluation)
316 pages
1 heure
Jan 9, 2018


An invaluable tool for the director/supervisor striving to identify what aspects of an early childhood program need improvement. The detailed descriptions of what one should see in high quality programs (and why) gives readers a strong foundation of child development knowledge and of principles translated into practice.

Laura Colker is the author of over 100 publications and instructional guides, including co-authorship of The Creative Curriculum for Preschool, The Creative Curriculum for Family Child Care, and The Creative Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers. The Creative Curriculum for Preschool, now in its fifth edition, is the most widely used preschool curriculum in the United States. She also served as content specialist or scriptwriter on over forty educational videos for PBS and Reading Is Fundamental, and developed online training for early childhood caregivers and family child care providers for NACCRRA (National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies).

Diane Trister Dodge, founder and president of Teaching Strategies, Inc., is the author of numerous books, articles, and training materials on early childhood education. She is the lead author on all of Teaching Strategies books, including the popular The Creative Curriculum series.

Derry Koralek is the President of DGK & Company, an independent consultant in early childhood education and developer of training materials and guidebooks. Past clients include Reading Is Fundamental, the Head Start Bureau, Military Child Development Programs, and the Devereux Foundation. Koralek is a past Editor-in-Chief of Teaching Young Children, National Association for the Education of Young Children, and winner of the Association for Educational Publishing Golden Lamp Award, 2014.

Jan 9, 2018

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High-Quality Early Childhood Programs - Laura J. Colker



Welcome to High-Quality Early Childhood Programs: The What, Why, and How. This book is for educators who oversee, supervise, coach, or provide professional development for teachers in early childhood programs serving children from infancy through age five. Whether you are a child development program director or assistant director, elementary school principal or assistant principal, an education or curriculum specialist, an early childhood consultant, or someone interested in promoting high-quality early childhood education, this book should help you in both your day-to-day work and in planning and assessing your program. This volume replaces an earlier version of the book The What, Why, and How of High-Quality Early Childhood Education: A Guide for On-Site Supervision, originally published in 1993 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and now out of print. This new book reflects changes that have occurred in the field in the intervening decades, including neuroscience research on how children learn. The book also reflects the content of two publications that are now standards for the field: Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8 (2009) and Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards; Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs, Third Edition (2011).

While much has been written for teachers and those who work directly with children on how to support growth, development, and learning in the early years, there are relatively few resources for those who supervise early childhood programs. This book is intended to help fill that gap. It is designed as a practical tool for translating theory into practice.

Learning best practices for supporting young children and their families and how to offer and maintain high-quality early childhood education takes time and practice. For early childhood educators in all settings and roles, this learning is accomplished through working as a team to achieve high-quality programming.

In using this book, we encourage readers to begin with chapter 1, an overview of the foundations of high-quality early childhood education. This chapter offers a concise summary of what we as a field believe constitutes high quality in our diverse society.

Following this foundational chapter, the next three chapters focus on early childhood age groups:

Chapter 2: Infants

Chapter 3: Toddlers

Chapter 4: Preschoolers

Each of these chapters addresses six key components of high-quality programming:

Environment: The arrangement of space, both indoors and outdoors, to ensure all children have opportunities to grow, develop, and learn

Toys, materials, and equipment: The selection and display of toys, books, and other materials that address children’s developmental skills, abilities, needs, interests, home languages, cultures, and family structures

Program structure: The scheduling of daily routines, activities, and transitions to support development in all domains and provide a balanced day with opportunities to play and learn alone and with others

Curriculum: The program’s written plan detailing the activities and experiences offered to promote children’s growth, development, and learning

Supportive interactions: The ways in which adults communicate with and respond to children to encourage their explorations and facilitate their development in all domains

Positive guidance: Strategies for helping children learn self-regulation (that is, the ability to control bodily functions, manage emotions, and maintain focus and attention [Shonkoff and Phillips 2000]) and find acceptable ways to cope with and express strong feelings.

For each component, there are two summary charts. The first describes what you should see when visiting a high-quality program and why this practice supports children. The second identifies warning signs of potential problems, the possible reasons for the problem, and suggested solutions to implement in partnership with staff.

Chapter 5: Engaging Families, offers an overview of the important reasons for building and maintaining reciprocal partnerships with families. Such partnerships benefit children, teachers, and families. This chapter also includes summary charts, as found in chapters 2, 3, and 4.

As you read through the book, you may notice that some content is repeated in the various chapters. This is intentional. When discussing high-quality programming, certain factors need to be present in every early childhood program, whether it is designed for infants, toddlers, or preschoolers. Taking children outside daily, for instance, is such an example. In addition, content at the early childhood level is often interrelated. For example, high-quality curricula need to incorporate families as partners with teachers. Likewise, a discussion of family engagement (chapter 5) obviously hits on this same point.

Please note that throughout the book we alternate use of the terms families, family members, and parents. These terms are meant to refer to any adult who has responsibility for the child’s well-being.

The following six appendixes and a listing of references complete the book:

Appendix A: A health and safety checklist that can be used to assess the environment and the toys/materials/equipment in early childhood center-based programs

Appendixes B–D: Age-specific checklists on characteristics of a high-quality environment, inventory of toys/materials/equipment, program schedule, curriculum, supportive interactions, and positive guidance in high-quality early childhood programs

Appendix E: A checklist for engaging families

Appendix F: Relevant associations, books, websites, and other resources for early childhood educators who oversee programs

Consider this book an on-the-job tool that supports your work. The content is meant to be an introduction and is by no means exhaustive. Instead, look to this book to focus your thinking and spark creative ideas and approaches for supporting the professional development of teachers. All of us in the field share the desire to provide programs for children and families that reflect the highest standards of quality. High-Quality Early Childhood Programs: The What, Why, and How will help you guide teachers and other staff in achieving that goal.

1 Foundations for Quality

In the United States, young children and families are served by a diverse early childhood education system. Diversity is characteristic of the children and families, staff, program funders and operators, and teacher preparation programs.

Child development programs are funded in a variety of ways through local, state, and federal resources and through tuition paid by families. There are full- and part-day programs serving infants, toddlers, and/or preschoolers, some operating all year as child care settings and others operating during the typical school year only. Some programs are free for families who meet certain criteria, while others are completely funded by families. For example, center-based program types include the following:

public and private child care programs (for profit and not-for-profit)

Early Head Start and Head Start

prekindergarten, state and locally funded; often housed in elementary schools

child development programs such as nursery schools and parent co-ops

on-site programs for employees

religion-affiliated child care

military child development programs and Department of Defense pre-K and Sure Start

Diversity is also evident in teacher preparation routes and in the educational and experience requirements for teachers. In some states, licensing regulations indicate that a high school diploma is sufficient to become an early childhood education teacher, while other entities require a bachelor’s degree. Teacher preparation programs include two- and four-year college and university programs, the Child Development Associate credential from the Council for Professional Recognition, high school child development courses, and on-the-job training provided by employers.

Nevertheless, high-quality programs do have characteristics in common. A visitor to such a program might not know immediately what makes the program so good, but an engaging environment, the children’s joy in learning, and the teachers’ caring demeanor are signs that this program has an intentional plan for excellence based on accepted standards of quality.

Standards of Quality

The quality of an early childhood program can be determined, in part, by the degree to which it meets established standards. High-quality programs reflect applicable standards for children’s learning, program operations, health and safety, teacher preparation, ongoing professional development, and family engagement. Typically, these standards come from several sources and program administrators, and staff share responsibility for meeting them.

Early Learning Standards

State early learning standards or guidelines cover the skills and knowledge young children of a certain age and stage of development are expected to achieve. All states and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) have issued standards that address the early years. The US Department of Education (2011) defines early learning and developmental standards as

a set of expectations, guidelines, or developmental milestones that describe what all children from birth until kindergarten entry should know and be able to do and their disposition toward learning. The standards must be appropriate for each age group of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers and English learners, and for children with developmental delays and disabilities. In addition, the standards must cover all the Essential Domains of School Readiness, and must be developmentally, linguistically, and culturally appropriate.

The Department of Education goes on to define the essential domains of school readiness as language and literacy development, cognition and general knowledge (including early mathematics and early scientific development), approaches toward learning, physical well-being and motor development, and social and emotional development.

Teachers, supervisors, and other early childhood education professionals need to be familiar with their state’s early learning standards so they can apply them in their work with young children. Learning standards serve multiple purposes. They provide an overview of child development, serve as a resource for sharing information with families, guide the selection of teaching approaches and strategies, and offer benchmarks for learning and development in all domains. Find links to state early learning standards and guidelines at

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