Learning

Goal

Effective learning opportunities are provided in all settings including the home, child care centers, family child care homes, preschools and elementary schools across the infant-toddler years, preschool and the early grades. Improved learning outcomes require that educators and professionals have the skills needed to advance learning and development, and to address challenges faced by all vulnerable populations. These policies influence the quality of interactions and environments that children experience, starting at birth and through the early elementary years, because gains are made and sustained from this strong foundation.

Policy Choices

  • Access to high-quality care and learning for infants and toddlers with educational, health, and development components; high-quality child care; voluntary, full-day preschool for all low-income 3- and 4-year- olds; and full-day kindergarten  
  • Collaboration among community and school-based early learning programs and services
  • Opportunities for learning outside of the school day, including summer
  • Transition planning from early care, to preschool, to K-12 learning environments
  • Access to effective pre-service education, training and on-site support for applying knowledge to practice
  • Training and coaching for teachers working with special populations including dual language learners and children with disabilities
  • Coordinated professional development including coaching and training that improves practice and provides effective learning opportunities for all children
  • Specialized certification areas that reflect the education continuum, birth through grade 3

Research

  • National Association for the Education of Young Children (2003).  Early childhood curriculum, assessment and program evaluation: Building an effective, accountable system in programs for children birth through age 8. (Position statement). Washington, DC: NAEYC. Retrieved from http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/CAPEexpand.pdf
  • National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators on Early Childhood Certification for Teachers of Children 8 Years Old and Younger in Public School Settings.  Retrieved from http://www.naecte.org/docs/ECE%20certification%20position%20statement.pdf.  
  • Shonkoff, J.P., & Phillips, D.A. (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods: The science of early childhood development. Washington, DC: National Academy Press Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development. Available at http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309069882
  • Thornburg, K. R., Mayfield, W. A., Hawks, J.S., & Fuger, K. L. (2009). The Missouri Quality Rating System School Readiness Study: Executive Summary. Kansas City, M.O.: Center for Family Policy & Research University of Missouri and the Institute for Human Development University of Missouri. Available at: http://cfpr.missouri.edu/MOQRISexec.pdf
  • Halle, T.G., Hair, E.C., Burchinal, M., Anderson, R., & Zaslow, M. (2012c). In the running for successful outcomes: Exploring the evidence for thresholds of school readiness. Technical Report. Washington, DC: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available online: http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/13/InTheRunningTechnicalReport/rpt.pdf
  • Zaslow, M., Anderson, R., Redd, Z., Wessel, J., Tarullo, L., & Burchinal, M. (2010). Quality Dosage, Thresholds, and Features in Early Childhood Settings: A Review of the Literature, OPRE 2011-5. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, US Department of Health and Human Services. Available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/quality_review_0.pdf
  • Reynolds, A. J., Magnuson, K. A., Ou, S. (2010). Preschool-to-third grade programs and practices: A review of research. Children and Youth Services Review 32, p 1121–1131. Available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740909003028

Facts about Early Learning 

  • Early childhood practitioners and elementary school educators have long seen the period of birth through age eight as a critical span of development for physical well-being and motor development, language and literacy development, cognitive development (including early math and science skills), social-emotional development, and motivational and regulatory skills associated with school readiness and later life success. [i]
  • The years from infancy through early elementary school are ones in which continuity of practice and integrated support services are needed.[ii] 
    For example, this time period encompasses a shift from mastering the mechanics of language acquisition to mastering reading comprehension.  Language acquisition in terms of both comprehension and production increases dramatically and rapidly in the first four years of life,[iii] and third grade (which most children enter at age eight) is seen as a watershed for moving from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”.[iv]
  • Tremendous gains are made in physical and motor development as well as social-emotional development from early infancy through early elementary school.[v]
  • Children who experience high-quality care and education tend to have better outcomes across developmental domains than similar children who are not exposed to high-quality care.[vi]  Conversely, children experiencing poor‐quality child care on average display more behavior problems, fewer language skills, and lower levels of academic skills than children in medium‐ or high‐quality care.[vii]
    -The benefits of high-quality early care and education are greater for vulnerable children[viii] and there is some indication that greater exposure to high-quality early care and education environments (either by starting at a younger age or receiving more hours of such care) can improve cognitive developmental outcomes for young children.[ix] 
    -Children who enter formal schooling with stronger school readiness skills tend to maintain their advantage over the elementary school years, while children who enter with lower school readiness skills tend to maintain their relative disadvantage over time.[x]
  • Research indicates that making explicit connections between developmental contexts, especially during critical transition points (such as increasing the connections across the home and school environments when a child is moving to a new school setting) can help smooth out these developmental transitions and guard against stressful and detrimental outcomes for young children. [xi] Such “bridging” activities between developmental contexts are key to supporting and sustaining the acquisition of new skills and abilities.

Citations

[i] Kagan, S.L., Moore, E., & Bredekamp, S. (1995). Reconsidering children’s early development and learning: Toward common views and vocabulary. Washington, DC: National Education Goals Panel Goal 1 Technical Planning Group.
[ii] See National Association for the Education of Young Children (2003).  Early childhood curriculum, assessment and program evaluation: Building an effective, accountable system in programs for children birth through age 8. (Position statement). Washington, DC: NAEYC. Retrieved from http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/CAPEexpand.pdf.  Also, the position statement from the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators on Early Childhood Certification for Teachers of Children 8 Years Old and Younger in Public School Settings.  Retrieved from http://www.naecte.org/docs/ECE%20certification%20position%20statement.pdf.  There are many institutes of higher education that support pre-service education for educators serving children ages birth to 8 which result in certificates and licensing for birth to eight educators, recognizing continuity across this time frame. 
[iii] Hoff, E., & Shatz, M. (2007). Blackwell Handbook of Language Development, Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
[iv] Snow, C.E., Burns, M.S., & Griffin, P. (1998).  Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.  National Research Council Committee on the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children.
[v]Shonkoff, J.P., & Phillips, D.A. (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods: The science of early childhood development. Washington, DC: National Academy Press Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development.
[v]Cox, M. J. & Harter, K. S. M. (2003). Parent-Child Relationship. In Bornstein, M. et al. (Eds.),Well-Being: Positive Development Across the Life Course (pp. 191-204). Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
[vi] Thornburg, K. R., Mayfield, W. A., Hawks, J.S., & Fuger, K. L. (2009). The Missouri Quality Rating System School Readiness Study: Executive Summary. Kansas City, M.O.: Center for Family Policy & Research University of Missouri and the Institute for Human Development University of Missouri. Available at: http://cfpr.missouri.edu/MOQRISexec.pdf
[vii] Burchinal, M. et al. (2000). Children's social and cognitive development and child care quality: Testing for differential associations related to poverty, gender, or ethnicity. Applied Developmental Science, 4 (3), 149-165.
[viii] Halle, T.G., Hair, E.C., Burchinal, M., Anderson, R., & Zaslow, M. (2012c). In the running for successful outcomes: Exploring the evidence for thresholds of school readiness. Technical Report. Washington, DC: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available online: http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/13/InTheRunningTechnicalReport/rpt.pdf
[ix] Zaslow, M., Anderson, R., Redd, Z., Wessel, J., Tarullo, L., & Burchinal, M. (2010). Quality Dosage, Thresholds, and Features in Early Childhood Settings: A Review of the Literature, OPRE 2011-5. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, US Department of Health and Human Services.
[x] Halle, T.G., Hair, E.C., Burchinal, M., Anderson, R., & Zaslow, M. (2012c). In the running for successful outcomes: Exploring the evidence for thresholds of school readiness. Technical Report. Washington, DC: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available online: http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/13/InTheRunningTechnicalReport/rpt.pdf
[xi] Fogel, A. (2011). Theoretical and applied dynamic systems research in developmental science. Child Development Perspectives. 5(4), 267-272.
[xi] Reynolds, A. J., Magnuson, K. A., Ou, S. (2010). Preschool-to-third grade programs and practices: A review of research. Children and Youth Services Review 32, p 1121–1131. 

 

Multimedia

  • This section will include multimedia.