Curriculum

Criteria for Home-Based Curricula

Criterion 1

Evidence Base for Child Outcomes

Evidence from research demonstrates that the curriculum has been associated with positive child outcomes. The curriculum has been implemented and directly studied in early childhood home visiting programs, and the research showed significant, positive effects on child outcomes. Evidence of effectiveness has been obtained in rigorous research studies, such as randomized controlled trials or regression discontinuity designs. Research studies on the curriculum have optimally included multiple, diverse groups of children and families.

Review Question

  • Child outcomes: Has the implementation of the curriculum been associated with positive child outcomes?

Other Information Included in the Review Summaries

  • Parenting outcomes: Has the implementation of the curriculum in these studies been associated with positive parenting outcomes?
  • Rigorous design: Has the curriculum been studied using a rigorous research design?

  • Sample and generalizability: Has the curriculum been studied with multiple samples representative of diverse children and families?

  • Fidelity of implementation: Have studies of the curriculum assessed fidelity of implementation?


Criterion 2

Research-Based Curriculum

The curriculum provides research-based content and parenting practices to support children's development and learning. A research-based home visiting curriculum is consistent with research on effective home visiting and parenting practices. Specifically, it promotes home visiting practices and interactions that research has shown to be effective in engaging parents and families. Additionally, a research-based home visiting curriculum promotes parenting knowledge, attitudes, and practices that are shown to support children's learning and development. 

Review Questions

  • Research-based home visiting practices and interactions: Does the curriculum suggest home visiting practices and interactions that research has shown to be effective in engaging parents and families?

  • Research-based parenting practices: Does the curriculum promote parenting knowledge, attitudes, and practices that research has shown to be effective in supporting positive child outcomes? 


Criterion 3

Scope and Sequence

The curriculum includes an organized developmental scope and sequence to support children's development and learning. A scope and sequence outlines what the curriculum focuses on and how the plans and materials support children at different levels of development. The scope refers to the areas of development addressed by the curriculum; the sequence includes plans and materials for learning experiences that progressively build from less to more complex, with the goal of supporting children as they move through the developmental progressions. A content-rich curriculum ensures that sequences of learning experiences include multiple, related opportunities for children to explore a concept or skill with increasing depth. Sequences of learning experiences should be flexible to respond to individual children's interests, strengths, and needs.

Review Questions

  • Scope: Does the curriculum include a clearly identifiable scope that promotes parents and families' skills in supporting their children's development in the essential domains of learning and development?

  • Sequence: Does the curriculum include sequences of learning experiences for children that progressively build from less to more complex to help parents and families support their children as they move through the developmental progressions?

    • Does the curriculum provide multiple, related opportunities for children to explore concepts or skills with increasing depth?

    • Do the sequences of learning experiences allow for flexibility in moving through them based on the individual interests, strengths, and needs of children?


Criterion 4

Alignment with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF)

The curriculum is aligned with the ELOF. Aligning a curriculum with the ELOF identifies the extent to which ELOF domains and sub-domains are addressed in the curriculum. Curricula that are fully aligned with the ELOF are comprehensive and cover all areas of children's learning and development described in the ELOF.

Review Question

  • Alignment with the ELOF: Does the curriculum provide learning experiences to support young children's development and learning in all of the ELOF domains and sub-domains?


Criterion 5

Learning Goals for Children

The curriculum specifies learning goals for children. The curriculum's learning goals are objectives for children's development and learning across domains. Learning goals should be measurable and developmentally appropriate. Measurable learning goals for children focus on skills, behaviors, and knowledge that are observable; developmentally appropriate learning goals are consistent with well-established developmental progressions. Learning experiences support children's progress toward the learning goals. In addition to the goals provided by the curriculum, home visitors collaborate with parents and families to identify individual goals for their child's learning and development.

Review Questions

  • Learning goals: Does the curriculum specify measurable, developmentally appropriate goals for children's learning and development?

    • Learning experiences: Are the learning goals supported by the learning experiences described in the curriculum?

    • Engaging parents and families around learning goals: Does the curriculum provide strategies for home visitors to engage parents and families in identifying individual goals for their child's learning and development?


Criterion 6

Ongoing Child Assessment

The curriculum provides guidance on ongoing child assessment. Ongoing child assessment is a process in which families and home visitors observe and gather information to understand and support children's development and learning over time. Information gathered through observation helps home visitors and families support children's individual interests and needs. Information from ongoing observations can also be used to periodically complete standardized and structured assessment instruments to evaluate children's developmental progress.

Review Questions

  • Ongoing observation: Does the curriculum offer guidance on how home visitors and families can observe and discuss children's developmental progress?

  • Standardized and structured assessment instruments: Does the curriculum recommend how home visitors can collaborate with parents and families to use standardized and structured child assessment instruments that are valid, reliable, and individually, culturally, and linguistically appropriate?


Criterion 7

Home Visitor-Family Relationships and Interactions

The curriculum promotes positive home visitor-family relationships and interactions. A home visitor's positive relationship with parents and families through culturally and linguistically responsive interactions forms the foundation of home visits. A strengths-based approach to building relationships with families provides a foundation for home visitors to interact with families. The curriculum provides strategies for how home visitors can establish positive relationships and responsive interactions with parents and families. The curriculum also provides strategies to bring families together in groups to facilitate peer support.

Review Questions

  • Relationships with parents and families: Does the curriculum offer suggestions for how home visitors can establish positive relationships with parents and families?

  • Responsive interactions with parents and families: Does the curriculum provide suggestions for how to engage in responsive interactions with parents and families?

  • Peer support: Does the curriculum offer suggestions for how to bring parents and families together in groups to facilitate peer support?


Criterion 8

Professional Development and Materials to Support Implementation

The curriculum offers professional development and materials to support implementation and continuous improvement. Professional development includes gaining the knowledge and skills required for effective implementation of a curriculum. Standardized training procedures include initial and ongoing training to support home visitors as they learn to implement a curriculum with fidelity. Standardized training procedures provide consistent content and delivery methods across training sessions. Curriculum materials to support implementation include resources that come with a curriculum to help home visitors understand how to use it. The materials may also include resources to help education managers and coaches support home visitors to implement the curriculum effectively. 

Review Questions

  • Professional development: Does the curriculum offer standardized initial training and ongoing professional development opportunities for program leaders and home visitors? 

  • Curriculum materials to support implementation: Does the curriculum include resources and tools to support fidelity of implementation and continuous improvement?


Criterion 9

Learning Experiences and Interactions

The curriculum promotes rich learning experiences for children to support development across domains. Rich learning experiences take place within the context of responsive relationships. The curriculum helps home visitors support the family-child relationship as the foundation for learning in all domains and encourages parents and families to engage children in play, movement, and active exploration. The curriculum also provides guidance for how parents and families can interact with children to extend their exploration, thinking, and communication. Home visitors and families collaborate to plan learning experiences and routines for children that build on the family's culture, language, and preferences.

Review Questions

  • Family-child relationship: Does the curriculum help home visitors support the family-child relationship as the foundation for learning in all domains?

  • Active exploration and play: Does the curriculum encourage parents and families to engage children in play, movement, and active exploration? 

  • Interactions that extend children's learning: Does the curriculum provide guidance on how parents and families can extend children's exploration, thinking, and communication?

  • Individualization: Does the curriculum provide guidance to home visitors on how to collaborate with parents and families to develop caregiving routines and learning experiences that build on their culture and home language and, if necessary, are responsive to their child's disabilities or special needs?


Criterion 10

Learning Environments and Routines

The curriculum provides guidance on how to support parents and families in making the home a rich learning environment and in establishing developmentally appropriate routines. A nurturing home learning environment offers developmentally appropriate schedules, routines, and indoor and outdoor opportunities for play, exploration, and experimentation. The home learning environment should include age-appropriate materials and supplies. The curriculum should support the selection of developmentally appropriate learning materials from the home and culture that foster children's open-ended exploration and inquiry.

Review Questions

  • Environment: Does the curriculum provide guidance on how to engage parents and families in using the home as a learning environment?

  • Learning materials: Does the curriculum provide guidance on how parents and families can use materials found in the home and that are part of their culture and community to support their children's learning?

  • Routines: Does the curriculum provide guidance on how to support parents and families in establishing developmentally appropriate routines that foster learning?


Criterion 11

Cultural Responsiveness

The curriculum supports cultural responsiveness. Cultural responsiveness is a strengths-based approach to relationships and caregiving rooted in respect and appreciation for the role of culture in children's learning and development. A culturally responsive curriculum prompts home visitors to incorporate the family's culture into home visits. The curriculum guides home visitors to build relationships and interactions with families of diverse cultural backgrounds; to learn about families' expectations, practices, and preferences for supporting their child's learning; and to work with parents and families to incorporate their culture and traditions into home visits.

Review Questions

  • Interactions: Does the curriculum support culturally responsive ways of interacting with diverse families and children?

  • Learning experiences: Does the curriculum provide guidance on how to collaborate with parents and families to adapt learning experiences for children from the curriculum materials to build on the family's traditions, culture, values, and beliefs?


Criterion 12

Linguistic Responsiveness

The curriculum supports linguistic responsiveness. Linguistic responsiveness refers to practices that support the learning, development, and engagement of children from diverse linguistic backgrounds. It involves partnering with families to intentionally support the development and learning of children who are dual language learners (DLLs). The curriculum provides guidance to families to support the home language while providing suggestions on how to expose children to English.

Review Questions

  • Home language: Does the curriculum encourage home visitors to support parents' and families' use of their home or tribal language during learning experiences in the home?

  • Supporting dual language learners: Does the curriculum provide guidance on how to support development of the home language and expose children to English?


Criterion 13

Individualization for Children with Disabilities, Suspected Delays, or Other Special Needs

The curriculum provides guidance on how to help parents and families support their child with a disability, suspected delay, or other special need. Home visitors and families can adapt learning experiences from the curriculum for a child with a disability or other special need. The curriculum includes suggestions for accommodations to the physical home learning environment and adaptations of learning experiences in the curriculum to meet the learning needs and strengths of children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs. The curriculum also provides suggestions for how home visitors can provide resources and referrals to families as needed.

Review Questions

  • Resources and referrals: Does the curriculum describe how home visitors can provide resources, information, and supports to families with a child with a disability, suspected delay, or other special need?

  • Learning environment: Does the curriculum include suggestions for parents and families about how to set up an appropriate learning environment and materials to support the development and learning of their child with a disability, suspected delay, or other special need?

  • Parenting practices and interventions: Does the curriculum provide guidance on how home visitors and families can adapt learning experiences for a child with a disability or other special need?


Criterion 14

Individualization Based on Interests, Strengths, and Needs

The curriculum offers guidance on how to individualize based on the interests, strengths, and needs of children. Individualization is a process of collaborating with families to plan home visits and learning experiences that are responsive to children. Home visitors and families reflect on their observations of the child and together plan how to support each child's learning and development. When learning experiences are tailored to children's interests and take place in the context of a family's regular routines, they are more engaging and meaningful to children. Because children may vary in their developmental progressions, it is also important that the curriculum supports home visitors and families in planning learning experiences that are responsive to individual children's strengths and needs. 

Review Questions

  • Individualization based on interests: Does the curriculum offer guidance on how to tailor home visits based on the interests of individual children?

  • Individualization based on strengths and needs: Does the curriculum offer guidance on how to tailor home visits based on the strengths and needs of individual children?


Criterion 15

Family Development and Well-Being

The curriculum supports family development and well-being as the context for promoting children's development and learning. Children develop in the context of their family systems; families provide a base of support for each child's development. Home visitors support family development and well-being through the family goal-setting process. They partner with families to identify goals that address family challenges and support family development and well-being. Home visitors also provide families with resources and referrals to support them as they work toward their goals. 

Review Questions

  • Family goals: Does the curriculum provide home visitors with strategies to engage parents and families in setting goals that address family development, well-being, and challenges?

  • Ongoing assessment of progress toward family goals: Does the curriculum promote ongoing assessment of family progress toward their goals?

  • Resources and referrals: Does the curriculum include guidance on how to refer parents and families to additional resources in the community that may help them make progress toward their family goals?