Connect4Learning® (C4L) is a research-based, classroom-tested interdisciplinary curriculum that consists of six units and 32 weeks of learning centers and lessons. Developed through funding from the National Science Foundation, it integrates research-validated methodologies from early childhood experts in mathematics, science, literacy, and social and emotional learning.
Last Updated: Feb. 27, 2020
Summary of Curriculum Review
- Promotes research-based teaching practices in all Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) domains, especially Approaches to Learning, Language and Communication, Literacy, Mathematics, and Scientific Reasoning
- Provides a sequence of learning experiences that progressively builds children's knowledge and skills in all ELOF domains except for Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development
- Aligns with the ELOF, but lacks adequate guidance in Health, Safety, and Nutrition
- Specifies developmentally appropriate learning goals for units and learning experiences
- Promotes ongoing assessment of children's learning
- Includes a range of strategies and resources to support parent and family engagement
- Gives specific guidance on how to individualize based on children's strengths and needs
- Offers comprehensive standardized training and materials to support implementation
- Provides limited guidance on how to support the development and learning of children who are dual language learners (DLLs)
- Lacks guidance on culturally responsive interactions with children and families
- Lacks guidance on how to fully integrate children's and families' cultures into interactions, the learning environment, and learning experiences
- Offers limited guidance on how to use teaching practices and interventions and ensure environments and materials are accessible for children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs
- Provides minimal guidance on how to plan learning experiences based on individual children's interests
Cost of Curriculum
Cost of curriculum is not publicly available.
Cost of Professional Development
Costs for on-site professional development are not publicly available on the publisher's website.
Contact the publisher for the most updated information on costs of the curriculum and current professional development offerings.
Availability in Other Languages
The curriculum is only available in English.
Center-based preschool programs for children
3–5 years old
Curriculum Materials Reviewed by Raters
All materials from C4L were purchased and reviewed in 2019. These materials included:
- Six Unit Manuals
- Teacher's Handbook
- Director's Handbook
- Formative Assessment book
- Classroom Book Set
- Large Card Set
- Classroom Materials
- Classroom Consumables
- Classroom Posters
- Online Portal
Evidence Base for Child Outcomes
Evidence from research demonstrates that the curriculum has been associated with children's positive learning outcomes. The curriculum has been implemented and directly studied in early childhood programs, and the research showed significant, positive effects on children's developmental 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 teachers.
At the time of this review, there are no available published research studies on C4L. The curriculum developers conducted two quasi-experimental pilot evaluations, suggesting that children in classrooms implementing C4L significantly outperformed children in control classrooms on measures of math, early literacy, vocabulary, and science. An overview of the pilot evaluations can be found in a book chapter about the curriculum (Sarama, Brenneman, Clements, Duke, & Hemmeter, 2017). However, this study is not included in the rating because it is not published in a peer-reviewed journal. Rigorous research published in peer-reviewed journals is needed in order to establish evidence for the effect of C4L on children's positive learning outcomes.
Sarama, J., Brenneman, K., Clements, D. H., Duke, N. K., & Hemmeter, M.L. (2017). Interdisciplinary teaching across multiple domains: The C4L (Connect4Learning) curriculum. In L. B. Bailey (Ed.), Implementing a standards-based curriculum in the early childhood classroom (pp. 1–53). Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.
The curriculum provides research-based content and teaching practices to support children's development and learning. A research-based curriculum is consistent with research on how children develop and learn. Specifically, it provides rich content, teaching practices, and learning experiences that research has shown to be effective in supporting children's development and learning. A research-based curriculum focuses on domain-specific, developmentally appropriate content and skills that contribute to children's long-range development in each domain.
Approaches to Learning: C4L consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's approaches to learning. The Teacher's Handbook provides guidance on classroom organization (e.g., managing transitions, using visuals in the environment) and tools to scaffold children's problem-solving skills (e.g., Solutions Suitcase, Problem Solver Chart). The Unit Manuals (Units) offer learning experiences that support children's development of executive functioning skills and emotional self-regulation. For example, a Small Group lesson is used to introduce Tucker the Turtle and the "turtle way" to calm down. The children engage in subsequent learning experiences (e.g., making class book pages, playing Turtle Freeze) to reinforce and deepen their understanding of how to use the turtle way to regulate their emotions. Learning experiences engage children in pretend and dramatic play, and guidance for learning centers suggests materials and some activities that promote open-ended exploration and creativity. While the curriculum provides specific suggestions for how children can engage with materials, C4L also encourages the children to create as they desire and to explore freely. In addition, the suggested schedule includes free choice time, which offers children many opportunities to engage in open-ended exploration.
Social and Emotional Development: The curriculum consistently promotes most research-based practices in this domain. Throughout, a variety of intentionally sequenced learning experiences (e.g., Welcome and Read Aloud; Small Group) promote social and emotional learning. For example, Welcome and Read Aloud lessons are used to identify and discuss emotions, while later units invite children to play emotions charades or bingo and then write an "emotions story." The curriculum provides continuous guidance on problem-solving skills, emotional self-regulation, and ways to build positive interactions among peers. However, C4L offers little to no explicit guidance on how to build secure, trusting adult-child relationships. References to culturally and linguistically responsive practices are minimal.
Language and Communication: The curriculum consistently promotes research-based teaching practices that support children's language and communication development. The daily Welcome and Read Aloud lesson provides ongoing opportunities for teachers to use, model, and scaffold complex language for children, as well as opportunities for rich oral language experiences. For example, Welcome and Read Aloud is made up of three parts, during which teachers:
- Talk about the book, introduce vocabulary, and make connections to any prior learning
- Read the book, stopping to draw attention to specific information or to ask questions
- Facilitate related conversations with children
Fast Focus and Connect lessons offer learning experiences that use the sounds of language through rhymes, poems, finger plays, and songs.
Literacy: C4L consistently supports research-based teaching practices in this domain. For example, it provides varied opportunities for children to discuss, use, and make print materials (e.g., creating class books, charts, and invitations). Interactive read-alouds during Welcome and Read Aloud lessons provide rich and meaningful content and engage children as active participants. Learning experiences include opportunities for children to develop critical early literacy skills, such as concepts about print, alphabet knowledge, and comprehension skills, and meaningful opportunities to develop emergent writing skills (e.g., interactive writing, journals, writing invitations for classroom events).
Mathematics Development: The curriculum consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's mathematics development and learning. Connect, Fast Focus, and Small Group lessons provide meaningful experiences embedded throughout the day that promote conceptual understanding. They help children practice math skills and introduce them to the language of mathematics. For example, in the Connect lesson "Add It Up," children use manipulatives to make different combinations that equal four. The teacher uses the language of mathematics to describe the groups in terms of an equation (e.g., "We started with four and made two groups of two. Two pieces of fruit plus two pieces of fruit equal four pieces of fruit."). The Teacher's Handbook describes how lessons are sequenced based on math learning trajectories. It offers an extensive chart illustrating each math trajectory category and the associated Small Group lessons. In addition, the curriculum includes math vocabulary within unit vocabulary lists, as well as guidance on how to model and facilitate math talk with children.
Scientific Reasoning: The curriculum consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's development of scientific reasoning. Small Group and Connect lessons, as well as the Exploration Station learning center, offer hands-on learning experiences and support the development of important inquiry skills, such as making observations and gathering information. For example, children are asked to observe over time, make predictions, and describe why they think something will happen. These experiences afford children opportunities to construct knowledge through social interaction with adults and peers. Throughout the learning experiences, C4L guides teachers to encourage children to use language and other forms of communication to document their observations (e.g., drawing or writing in science journals, think-pair-share during lessons, creating charts).
Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development: The curriculum implicitly promotes a few research-based practices in this domain. While it does not include explicit learning goals or experiences that focus on perceptual, motor, and physical development, C4L offers some learning experiences that implicitly support physical skills and fine motor development. Some Connect and Fast Focus lessons focused on math objectives integrate movement, body part names, and spatial awareness. For example, while singing "Five Little Wiggle Worms," children count while wiggling, shaking, or swooping their fingers. The designs of the physical environment and perceptual-motor activities also provide some implicit support for fine motor growth (e.g., Art Center materials, emergent writing experiences, math manipulatives). The curriculum lacks guidance on how to use intentional practices to promote healthy food consumption, self-care, and personal safety knowledge. In addition, the curriculum does not offer guidance on how to create a safe environment that encourages physical activity.
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.
Scope: C4L clearly identifies four core domains of learning: math, science, literacy, and social and emotional learning. The Teacher's Handbook offers an overview of the associated learning goals, lesson types (e.g., Welcome and Read Aloud; Connect), and learning processes (e.g., communicating and representing, using tools strategically) used to support children's development and learning in the identified domains. In addition, the Units provide learning goals, lessons, and teaching practices to support children's learning and development in these domains.
Sequence: The Units provide a sequence of learning experiences that progressively builds on children's knowledge and skills as they move through the developmental progressions in the following ELOF domains: Approaches to Learning, Social and Emotional Development, Language and Communication, Literacy, Mathematics, and Scientific Reasoning. The Units provide multiple, related opportunities for children to explore or learn concepts and skills in the curriculum's core domains. In the Mathematics domain, the curriculum also provides some guidance on how to move through the sequence of learning experiences based on individual children's strengths and needs. For example, Appendix B of the Teacher's Handbook describes how to use the math learning trajectories to individualize the sequence in which math lessons are implemented. However, for Perceptual, Physical, and Motor Development, the curriculum does not provide a sequence of learning experiences that progressively builds from less to more complex.
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.
Alignment with the ELOF: A thorough review of all of the curriculum materials in relation to the ELOF domains and sub-domains indicates that C4L is mostly aligned with the ELOF. The learning experiences, centers, and lessons described in the six Units support children's development in the majority of ELOF domains and sub-domains. The curriculum does not address the ELOF sub-domain of Health, Safety, and Nutrition.
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 focus on skills, behaviors, and knowledge that are observable; developmentally appropriate learning goals are consistent with well-established developmental progressions. Teachers should be able to use a curriculum's learning goals to individualize learning experiences for all children, such as children from diverse cultures, children who are dual language learners (DLLs), children who are tribal language learners, and children with disabilities or other special needs.
Learning Goals: The curriculum specifies measurable, developmentally appropriate learning goals in the Teacher's Handbook, Formative Assessment book, and within each Unit. The learning activities support children in making progress toward these learning goals. The curriculum provides an example of how a child's Individualized Education Program goals align with Assessment, Evaluation Programming System (AEPS) objectives for a specific learning experience. However, it lacks guidance on how to use the curriculum's learning goals to individualize learning experiences for all children.
Ongoing Child Assessment
The curriculum provides guidance on ongoing child assessment. Ongoing child assessment is a process of gathering information to understand and support children's development over time. Information gathered through observation and documentation helps inform curriculum planning, teaching, and individualizing for all children. Ongoing child assessment can also be used to periodically complete standardized and structured assessment instruments to evaluate children's developmental progress.
Ongoing Observation and Documentation: The Teacher's Handbook and Formative Assessment book describe a process for observing, documenting, and reflecting on children's development, and using this information to monitor children's development and learning. For example, each Small Group lesson offers a checkpoint that describes what teachers should observe and document using the Formative Assessment book or online portal. In addition, these lessons provide specific guidance on how to use assessment to modify instruction. "More Support" and "More Challenge" prompts offer ideas on how to modify instruction based on teachers' observations of individual children's strengths and needs.
Standardized and Structured Assessment Instruments: The Formative Assessment book and the online portal provide structured assessment tools that align with the curriculum's learning goals. They are organized in chronological order by unit, week, and day. The curriculum encourages teachers to complete each day's formative assessment pages during Small Group lessons as they move through the curriculum. However, C4L does not describe the importance of using standardized assessments or address the importance of selecting instruments that are valid, reliable, or individually, culturally, and linguistically appropriate for the children who are to be assessed.
Parent and Family Engagement
The curriculum promotes parent and family engagement. Parent and family engagement is a collaborative and strengths-based process through which early childhood teachers, families, and children build positive and goal-oriented relationships. It is a shared responsibility of families and staff that is built on mutual respect for the roles and strengths each has to offer. The curriculum provides culturally and linguistically responsive strategies to communicate with families and to engage families in children's learning.
Communicating with Families: The Teacher's Handbook provides general guidance on how to communicate with families. It suggests that teachers share their expectations for children and invite families to share their expectations for children at home, as well as ask families about children's interests and experiences. The handbook also recommends sending home a form describing children's school days and asking families to describe children's activities at home and in the community. The online portal provides Family Engagement Letters, in English and Spanish, for each unit. The letters include information about the unit of study and what children are doing in class. Even so, the curriculum lacks specific guidance on how to interact with diverse families.
Engaging Families: The curriculum includes specific guidance on how to engage families in children's learning and development. For example, the Teacher's Handbook suggests teachers invite families to share with the class some items related to topics that children are learning about. Another suggestion is to post an "Ask your child" question at the end of each day. In some units, children "write" invitations and programs for family events (e.g., scavenger hunt, museum night, garden party). However, the curriculum provides limited guidance on how to implement these events. The Family Engagement Letters provide concrete ideas on how families can extend learning at home. Although the letters are available in English and Spanish, there is no discussion of how to engage families from diverse cultures, families who speak languages other than English and Spanish, or parents with disabilities or other special needs.
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 education staff 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 education staff understand how to use it. The materials may also include resources to help education managers and coaches support education staff to implement the curriculum effectively.
Professional Development: C4L provides standardized initial training and ongoing professional development. The online portal houses two types of online modules. Six one-hour, unit-specific modules are included in the cost of the curriculum. In addition, programs can purchase two implementation training modules that address a variety of topics (e.g., curriculum overview, core concepts of project-based learning, teaching strategies, family engagement) for an additional cost. According to the publisher's website, C4L offers a variety of in-person and online training opportunities for administrators and teachers. Content of the trainings includes adapting the curriculum for special needs, boosting emergent writing, and using formative assessment to inform instruction. Some training components (e.g., mid-year training that gives teachers opportunities to reflect on their successes, questions, and observations) suggest that professional development can be tailored to programs' individual challenges and needs.
Curriculum Materials to Support Implementation: C4L provides a comprehensive set of materials to support implementation. The Teacher's and the Director's Handbooks include an overview of the curriculum, its disciplinary approach, and key elements (e.g., learning centers, lessons, formative assessment). Two online modules, available at an additional cost, focus on curriculum implementation. The six Units offer detailed information about each of the curriculum's learning experiences, including materials and set-up. They also include guidance on implementing each learning experience, prompts and questions to engage and support children during learning experiences, assessment checkpoints, and strategies for individualizing based on children's strengths and needs. The Formative Assessment book and online portal provide forms for teachers to document and track their observations for children's progress toward curriculum learning goals. The assessments are referenced with the Teacher's Handbook, Director's Handbook, and Units.
- Fidelity Tool: The curriculum offers the Curriculum Fidelity Checklist, which can be used to assess fidelity of implementation. The form includes a checklist and areas for comments on key elements of the environment, teaching methods, and lessons. Supervisors and coaches can use this tool to support teachers as they implement C4L.
Learning Experiences and Interactions
The curriculum promotes rich learning experiences and interactions to support development across domains. Rich learning experiences support and extend children's knowledge, understanding of concepts, and skills across domains. As children actively explore their learning environment by manipulating objects and investigating concepts, teachers interact with them to extend their exploration, thinking, and communication. The curriculum offers children ample opportunities to engage in hands-on exploration and provides teachers with guidance on how to extend children's exploration, thinking, and communication. Rich learning experiences should be culturally and linguistically responsive and inclusive of children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs.
Active Exploration: The curriculum offers daily opportunities for children to actively engage in hands-on exploration. The Teacher's Handbook describes learning centers, such as an art center, book nook, construction zone, dramatic play area, and exploration station. While C4L acknowledges the importance of free play, the learning centers also suggest specific materials and activities that should be available in each of the centers. The curriculum advocates that planned instruction and child-directed play guided by adults enhances the quality of children's learning.
Interactions that Extend Children's Learning: The Units offer specific examples of ways to use teacher-child interactions to extend children's learning throughout the day. Welcome and Read Aloud, Connect, and Small Group lessons include open-ended questions as prompts. They require children to think about and discuss what they know, provide explanations (e.g., "How do you know ...?"), and share what they might do next. For example, while reading Swimmy during Small Group, guidance for the teacher includes asking children to identify what "lonely" means and how they might solve the problem of loneliness.
Individualization: The Teacher's and Director's Handbooks provide general guidance on how to individualize learning experiences for all children. The "Supporting Dual Language Learners" section describes four research-based practices for working with children who are DLLs. For example, the curriculum suggests teachers use puppets and interactive games to illustrate concepts and interactions and to physically engage with children. The "Supporting Children with Disabilities" section offers modifications that some teachers using C4L have made. For example, they have provided individualized picture cues for children who need more help than what the teacher taught during whole-group lessons, and structured support during activities. A limitation is that guidance on individualization for children who are DLLs and children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs is not comprehensive or embedded throughout the materials.
Learning Environments and Routines
The curriculum provides guidance on how to set up rich learning environments and developmentally appropriate routines. Rich learning environments are nurturing spaces that support the development of all young children. The curriculum provides guidance on how to design developmentally appropriate schedules, routines, and indoor and outdoor opportunities for choice, play, exploration, and experimentation. Learning environments include age-appropriate equipment, materials, and supplies. They also reflect home cultures and are flexible to support the changing ages, interests, and characteristics of a group of children over time.
Environment: C4L provides some specific guidance on how to design well-organized, engaging indoor environments. The "Organizing Your C4L Classroom" section in the Teacher's Handbook provides simple organizational guidelines for using visual cues throughout the classroom (e.g., labeling shelves) and for setting up the learning centers. For example, the curriculum suggests that the Art Center be near the sink or hand-washing tubs and the Construction Zone provide plenty of space for the children's creations. However, the curriculum offers little guidance on how to authentically include children's cultures or home language in the physical environment. Furthermore, it lacks guidance on how to set up the outdoor learning environment or ensure the physical environment is accessible for children with disabilities or special needs.
Learning Materials: The curriculum offers specific guidance on how to select developmentally appropriate learning materials. Each Unit lists required items from the C4L Pre-K Kit and Book Set, as well as materials needed for learning centers. In addition, the Weekly Materials Plans identify materials required for each lesson. The Teacher's and Director's Handbooks include limited guidance on how to ensure learning materials meet the unique needs of children with disabilities or other special needs (e.g., add materials when children with sensory issues have a difficult time with planned materials; teach vocabulary on an augmentative and alternative communication [AAC] device). C4L provides limited guidance on how to select materials that authentically represent the cultures, ethnicities, and home languages of the children. The curriculum suggests labeling items in children's home languages and including items such as recipes, empty food boxes, and dolls in the dramatic play area that reflect skin colors, hairstyles, facial features, and special needs of the children in program.
Schedule and Routines: The Teacher's and Director's Handbooks include specific guidance on how to establish a daily schedule, such as descriptions of the four lesson types—Welcome and Read Aloud, Connect, Small Group, and Fast Focus—and sample schedules for half- and full-day programs. The Handbooks also provide specific guidance on how to support children during transitions. For example, the curriculum suggests teachers explain to children what is expected of them during transitions, provide plenty of warning before transitions, and use verbal, visual, musical, or physical cues to indicate transitions. In addition, C4L suggests turning transitions into games that promote children's thinking and learning (e.g., asking each child to pick up a specific number of objects or to look for a specific shape to put away). Even so, the curriculum lacks guidance on how to individualize schedules or routines based on individual children's needs or backgrounds.
The curriculum supports cultural responsiveness. Cultural responsiveness is a strengths-based approach to teaching and caregiving rooted in respect and appreciation for the role of culture in children's learning and development. A culturally responsive curriculum prompts teachers to learn about each child's strengths, abilities, experiences, and interests as developed within the child's family and culture. The curriculum provides guidance on how to modify and enhance curriculum plans and materials to build on these strengths, abilities, experiences, and interests with the goal of incorporating each child's culture into the classroom.
Interactions: C4L lacks guidance on how to interact with diverse children and families in culturally responsive ways.
Learning Experiences: The curriculum does not provide any guidance on how to provide learning experiences that build on children's and families' traditions, cultures, values, or beliefs. In Unit 5, teachers are guided to ask families if they grow or eat any vegetables that other families might not know about and invite them to share examples from their homes and cultures. However, other than this example, there is no guidance on how to provide learning experiences that build on families' traditions, cultures, values, and beliefs.
Learning Environment: C4L offers minimal guidance on how to use learning materials that authentically represent the cultures and ethnicities of children and families. The Teacher's and Director's Handbooks suggest labeling classroom items in the children's home languages. They also recommend including books in the book nook that reflect children's families and communities and recipes and empty food boxes from the children's homes in play centers. Some titles in the Classroom Book Set (e.g., Yo! Yes?; Sonia Sotomayor; The Tortilla Factory) reflect diverse children and families.
The curriculum supports linguistic responsiveness. Linguistic responsiveness refers to teaching practices that support the learning, development, and engagement of children from diverse linguistic backgrounds. It includes supports for continued development of children's home or tribal languages by authentically incorporating children's languages into the learning environment. Furthermore, linguistically responsive practices can facilitate English acquisition. The curriculum provides scaffolding strategies to support children at any level of English knowledge to fully participate in the curriculum's learning experiences.
Scaffolding Strategies: The curriculum provides general guidance on how to scaffold the development and learning of children who are DLLs. For example, the Teacher's Handbook identifies and describes four practices for supporting these children: language-rich environment, active participation, vocabulary expansion, and predictable routines. C4L engages children in meaningful use of language through a balance of whole-group, small-group, and individual interactions with children who are DLLs. However, it lacks specific, embedded scaffolding strategies across curriculum materials to support the learning and development of children who are DLLs.
Home and Tribal Languages: The Teacher's Handbook states that "teachers should support DLLs in both their home languages and in English" (pg. 45). However, the curriculum provides little guidance on how to authentically incorporate children's home languages into the learning environment. The guidance is limited to suggestions to label classroom items in the children's home languages and to invite children to bring empty boxes of food with original labels reflective of children's home languages. Tribal languages are not mentioned at all.
Individualization for Children with Disabilities, Suspected Delays, or Other Special Needs
The curriculum provides guidance on how to individualize for children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs. Individualization for children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs includes providing more specialized supports for children to access and participate in learning, social experiences, and activities. The curriculum's guidance for specialized supports includes specific teaching practices and ways of interacting with children, as well as adaptations to daily schedules, learning activities, and the learning environment. Individualizing for children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs enables all children to access, participate, and thrive in early learning settings.
Teaching Practices and Interventions: The curriculum provides minimal guidance on how to embed teaching practices and other interventions in daily routines and activities to support the learning of children with disabilities or other special needs. The Teacher's Handbook provides examples of modifications that teachers working with children with disabilities have made (e.g., using picture cues, partnering children with more competent peers, providing visuals for vocabulary). However, the curriculum lacks guidance on how to embed specific research-based practices or other interventions in daily routines and activities to support the learning of children with disabilities or other special needs.
Learning Environment: C4L provides minimal guidance on how to ensure learning materials and the physical environment are accessible to children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs. The Teacher's and Director's Handbooks include a few specific adaptations for materials (e.g., adding materials when children with sensory issues have a difficult time with planned materials, providing a second copy of books for children to follow along during read-alouds). Universal design principles are not explicitly addressed, and the curriculum lacks consistent, embedded guidance on how to ensure that the physical environment and learning materials are accessible to all children.
Individualization Based on Interests, Strengths, and Needs
The curriculum offers guidance on how to individualize based on children's interests, strengths, and needs. Individualization is a process of planning and implementing learning experiences that are responsive to each child's interests, strengths, and needs. Teachers reflect on their observations of each child and then plan the most effective ways to support each child's learning and development. When learning experiences are tailored to children's interests, they are more engaging and meaningful to children. Because children may vary in their developmental progressions, it is also important that the curriculum supports teachers in planning learning experiences that are responsive to individual children's strengths and needs.
Individualization Based on Interests: The curriculum provides minimal guidance on how to plan learning experiences that build on children's interests. The Teacher's Handbook explains that children may have specific interests and encourages teachers to "pick up on these interests and use them to engage children." In addition, some learning center and lesson instructions reference children's interests. For example, Unit 3 instructions for the Show What You Know Center suggest including materials needed to make the toys children are interested in. The Unit 4 (Exploring Museums) Learning Overview states that the unit is designed to address topics children find interesting. Teachers may add these topics to the unit or replace the unit's focus on paleontology or medieval times. Even so, lessons (e.g., Welcome and Read Aloud, Small Group) are pre-planned and there is no guidance on how to modify them based on children's individual interests.
Individualization Based on Strengths and Needs: The curriculum provides a variety of strategies to make learning experiences responsive to individual children's strengths and needs. Small Group lessons include checkpoints, and other lessons offer reminders for teachers to pay attention to individual children's progress toward learning goals (e.g., take note of children's abilities to identify emotions). The Units offer ways to individualize through "More Support" and "More Challenge" prompts for Small Group lessons. In addition, Welcome and Read Aloud lessons suggest ways to individualize for children who need more support (e.g., have them think about what helps them feel better when they are sad or upset, and then extend that idea to helping a friend).