Why is early childhood development important? We know that children start learning before they attend school. In fact, the first three years of life are crucial when it comes to the development of a child’s brain. That is why it is so important to support infants, toddlers and pre-school children and their families in the early stages of development. Parents need information and resources to access appropriate pre and post-natal care, as well as care at birth and throughout childhood. Study after study on early childhood development affirms that children, who participate in quality early childhood education programs are more likely to perform better academically, become high school graduates, become employed and earn higher incomes. This is a positive investment and a vital gain not only for the children and their families, but for the future of our community.
Early Childhood Education has grown tremendously since 1965. The latest research has clarified for us that early development in language (being able to listen, comprehend, and produce sounds, words, and questions/statements) and basic concepts (knowing the names of common things, knowing the meanings of numbers and colors; recognizing letters, especially one’s own name; recognizing one’s own family, friends, and neighborhood) is important to having a sense of positive self and belonging which will contribute to success upon entering elementary school.
LULAC's Early Childhood Education is based on the following Seven Guiding Principles which are consistent with current findings of effective and successful early childhood programming:
1. Early learning is multidimensional—It involves the dynamic interaction of all areas of physical, cognitive, emotional, and social
2. Young children are capable, competent, and eager to learn.
3. There are individual differences in rates of development and learning among children.
4. Young children learn through active exploration of their environment through child-initiated and adult-selected activities.
5. Knowledge of child growth and development is essential to providing quality educational experiences for children.
6. Families are the primary caregivers and educators of their young children.
7. Children are born into communities which reflect distinct values and cultures that are respected and welcomed into our early
LULAC Head Start Inc. uses the Creative Curriculum as the basis for planning learning experiences. This curriculum is aligned with The Preschool Curriculum and Assessment Framework document that our staff uses. The Creative Curriculum® is a comprehensive, scientifically based early childhood curriculum that has been shown to improve cognitive and social/emotional outcomes in young children.
The Teacher’s Role:The Creative Curriculum teacher is engaged in an ongoing cycle of observing, guiding, learning and assessing children’s progress. During this cycle, teachers interact with children continuously and make decisions about when and how to respond to meet individual and group needs.
The Family’s Role:Our program truly values the family’s role in a child’s education and recognizes how much can be accomplished by working with families. This helps build a true partnership. We focus on developing a relationship with every family so we can work together to support children’s healthy development and learning.
How Children Learn and Develop:Knowing how children grow and develop is the basis for planning our program, selecting materials, and guiding children. Children also learn through play. Play is a very important factor in children’s future academic success. The Creative Curriculum will help us apply what has been learned about child development to everyday practices in the classroom.
The Learning Environment:This refers to the use and organization of the space in the classroom, the daily schedule and routines and the social and emotional atmosphere. This learning environment meets children’s developmental needs, makes them feel safe and comfortable and that they belong. This includes children with special needs. As a result, they are helped to become independent and confident learners.
What Children Learn:The Creative Curriculum explains how to teach content in ways that respect the developmental stages of preschool. The content areas are: literacy (vocabulary and language, phonological awareness, letters, words, etc.), mathematics (numbers, patterns and relationships, etc.), science ((the physical properties of objects and living things), social studies (how people live, work and get along with others), the arts (dance, music, dramatic play, drawing and painting), technology (tools and their basic operations and use) and process skills (observing, exploring, problem solving, and connecting).
How a brain develops hinges on a complex interplay between the genes you’re born with and the experiences you have.
Early experiences have a decisive impact on the architecture of the brain, and on the nature and extent of adult capacities.
Early interactions don’t just create a context, they also directly affect the way the brain is “wired.”
Brain development is non-linear: there are prime times for acquiring different kinds of knowledge and skills.
By the time children reach age three, their brains are as twice as active as those of adults. Activity levels drop during adolescence.