Early childhood programs and staff must be prepared to enhance experiences for a growing number of young children who are learning their home languages and English. We can promote positive experiences for these dual language learners (DLLs) by holding high expectations and emphasizing their strengths, including cultural and linguistic strengths. Staff also provide children and their families with individualized learning supports necessary to succeed in school. These DLL Toolkit resources can help program directors and managers better support the learning and development of young children. Program managers and administrators can build systems and develop policies to improve practices across all service delivery areas by identifying and implementing a planned, intentional approach to language use in the classroom.
For infants and toddlers, school readiness refers to their developing capacity to self-regulate, demonstrate curiosity, communicate effectively, and develop close, secure relationships. Good health and proper nutrition support this developing capacity. This happens within the context of nurturing, culturally responsive relationships with parents, caregivers, extended family, and community.
Incorporating Cultural Themes to Promote Preschoolers’ Critical Thinking in American Indian Head Start Classrooms
Connecting to cultural traditions enhances opportunities for parents to participate in their roles as their children’s primary teachers. Teaching teams, including parents and families may use this resource to understand how culturally relevant experiences help children develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. This resource offers steps to designing a culture-based inquiry unit that may be adapted to any community.
Every Head Start and Early Head Start program is required to develop a plan of action to meet desired outcomes of school readiness, family engagement, professional development), curriculum, assessment, and teaching practice. A key part of this plan is to make sure teachers, home visitors, and family child care providers intentionally support children’s progress. For this to happen, systems and services must come together as early as possible.
Teachers know and understand the broad range of content areas and the developmental expectations (i.e., social and emotional, cognitive, expressive and receptive language, motor, adaptive, and English language development) appropriate for young children as outlined by the Head Start Early Learning Framework. Teachers consider what they want children to know, understand, and be able to do using the five essential domains.
With goals and a plan of action in place, the next challenge is to identify ways to measure children’s progress toward meeting goals. Child-level assessment data is collected for individual children by programs using one or more valid and reliable assessment systems. Tools for determining a child’s status and progress include, but are not limited to, direct assessment, structured observations, checklists, staff or parent report measures, and portfolio records or work samples.
Use these guides to help make informed decisions about choosing a preschool curriculum and assuring high-quality implementation of the curriculum.