Almost every state has developed early learning standards for pre-kindergarten age students. This article will focus on the state of NC Foundations for Early Learning and Development http://ncchildcare.nc.gov/pdf_forms/NC_foundations.pdf that reference infants to preschool ages (birth to 60 months+). The domain areas referenced on the continuum are (1) approaches to play and learning, (2) emotional and social development, (3) health and physical development, (4) language development and communication, (5) cognitive development and (6) supporting dual language learners.
As you view the information remember development is a continuous process with a predictable sequence, this is unique for every individual child. The goals are listed for each sub-domain of Foundations with developmental indicators along the continuum of development from birth to 60 months+. The developmental continuum shows how skills emerge over time. Here is an example for domain “Cognitive Development” goal 3 on page 123. As infants, show awareness of others’ reactions to people, objects, and events. As older toddlers, use words like “think,” “remember,” and “pretend”. At the younger preschoolers use words like “think” and “know” to talk about thoughts and beliefs. Finally, older preschoolers use language to describe their thinking processes with adult support.
The developmental indicators are examples of skills and behaviors children show at various age levels. The state standards work in conjunction with program selected curriculum both work hand-in-hand to align with teacher facilitation of intentional activities that address developmental domains in the standards. These developmentally appropriate play and learning activities can be teacher directed, child directed or embedded in classroom routines. Remember intentional lesson plans identify the domains and goals that activities will target individually or collaboratively as a group.
NC professional teacher standards reflect on teaching instruction and interactions of learning environment. Here are the Standards.
- Standard 1: Teachers demonstrate leadership.
- Standard 2: Teachers establish a respectful environment for a diverse population of students.
- Standard 3: Teachers know the content they teach.
- Standard 4: Teachers facilitate learning for their students.
- Standard 5: Teachers reflect on their practice.
- Standard 6: Teachers contribute to the academic success of students.
As you get ready to start the upcoming school year here are some questions and/or comments to self-reflect on with ratings of (always, sometimes, never).
- Set clear and specific learning targets for children to meet or exceed skill activities?
- Have a process for collecting child observation data (anecdotal notes, work samples, video) for individualization or collaboratively workings?
- Call children by name and engage in brief and extended conversation throughout the day.
- Respond to children’s comments and ideas by asking open-ended questions and by making comments that expand their learning and encourage critical thinking skills,
- Establish and display no more than five rules for a given area (circle, centers, outdoor play, etc.) connecting them throughout the day for behavior expectations, and
- Use reflective strategies to enhance instructional practices ensuring learning and understanding of content, rules and behavior expectations of learning environment.
An effective teacher will align state early childhood education Standards with selected curriculum to provide high quality learning environments for all children. The above list will assist in providing a culturally developmentally age appropriate settings for all in high quality education.