Growing Great Kids™ for Preschoolers provides materials for home visitors and families that promote child development and parenting practices. The curriculum includes two volumes with theme-based activities and one volume that focuses on family well-being.
- Promotes a variety of research-based home visiting practices for building positive relationships with families
- Promotes research-based parenting practices to support children's development and learning
- Describes a specific process for setting and assessing family-level goals
- Supports children in most Head Start Early Outcomes Framework (ELOF) sub-domains
- Offers comprehensive standardized training and materials to support implementation
- Provides guidance on how to establish and support developmentally appropriate routines
- Offers limited guidance on how to integrate children's and families' cultures into interactions and learning experiences
- Provides limited guidance on how to support the development and learning of children who are dual language learners (DLLs)
- Provides limited guidance on ensuring the home environment, learning materials, and learning experiences are accessible to children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs
- Lacks comprehensive guidance in the ELOF sub-domains of Cognitive Self-Regulation and Creativity
- Lacks opportunities for child-initiated play, activities based on children's interests, and activities that promote open-ended exploration
- Lacks guidance for home visitors and families to jointly plan home visits and respond to families' interests and strengths
Cost of Curriculum
The curriculum developers require training in order to purchase the curriculum.
Cost of Professional Development
Prices for training vary based on group size and participant role.
Contact the publisher for the most updated information on costs of the curriculum and current professional development offerings.
Availability in Other Languages
The curriculum materials are not available in other languages.
Home-based programs for families with children 3–5 years old
Curriculum Materials Reviewed by Raters
Materials from Growing Great Kids™ for Preschoolers were reviewed in 2018. These materials included:
- Growing Great Kids™ for Preschoolers in Home Visiting Programs Curriculum Manual
- Growing Great Kids™ for Preschoolers: Learning Pods for 3-Year-Olds
- Growing Great Kids™ for Preschoolers: Learning Pods for 4- & 5-Year-Olds
- Growing Great Families: A Family Strengthening, Stress Management, and Life Skills Curriculum
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.
At the time of this review, there are no available published research studies on Growing Great Kids™ for Preschoolers. However, there is some evidence that participation in programs using Growing Great Kids™: Prenatal–36 months is associated with positive child outcomes. Research investigating Growing Great Kids™ for Preschoolers is needed in order to establish evidence for positive effects on children's learning outcomes.
For information on Growing Great Kids™ as a parenting curriculum, please see the Home-Based Parenting Curriculum database.
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.
Home Visiting Practices and Interactions: The curriculum consistently promotes home visiting practices and interactions that research has shown to be effective in engaging families. The curriculum supports home visitors to build trusting and positive relationships with families, particularly through the proposed structure of home visits. For example, each home visit starts with "Making Connections," a time for home visitors and families to check in on how families are doing. The curriculum also encourages home visitors to use a strengths-based approach with families to build relationships and affirm parental competence (e.g., materials emphasize "accentuating the positives" while working with families). However, Growing Great Kids™ for Preschoolers lacks adequate guidance for home visitors on how to follow the family's lead and jointly plan home visits.
Parenting Practices: The curriculum consistently promotes parenting practices that research has shown to be effective in supporting children's development and learning. Guidance to promote responsive and sensitive parent-child interactions is embedded throughout the materials. For example, each home visit includes "Getting in Sync with My Child," which provides reflective prompts for parents to think about ways they can tune in to their child as they learn to respond contingently. The curriculum also provides guidance for parents on how to model and support the development of children's social skills (e.g., suggestions for building empathy during interactions), emotional regulation, problem-solving, and physical skills. The curriculum offers guidance on how to use routines to support children's learning and development. However, many of the materials in the activities are not typically found in the home environment, and there is a lack of guidance for parents on how to support children's exploration and play throughout the day. Finally, while the curriculum supports families to promote a language and literacy-rich environment, minimal guidance is offered on supporting the child's home language.
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: The Learning Pods identify six "pre-academic skills" in the introductory materials: Social-Emotional Preparation, Reading Preparation, Math Preparation, Science Preparation, and Writing Preparation. Other sections of the curriculum identify these domains differently. For example, "Why Do This Activity?" includes goals for each activity in the Learning Pods, where additional domains are referenced (e.g., Physical Development). Moreover, the curriculum manual identifies the following domains: Literacy, Peer Relationships, Impulse Control, Math Readiness, Balanced Nutrition, Self-Care, Physical Activity, Problem-solving, and Independent Thinking. While many of the activities support children's development in the domains, the varying naming conventions do not allow for a clear connection between the domains and the activities.
Sequence: The curriculum provides a sequence of learning experiences that supports children as they build knowledge and skills in the domains of Approaches to Learning, Social and Emotional Development, Language and Communication, Mathematics Development, and Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development. The Learning Pods include one book of activities for 3-year-olds and one book of activities for 4- and 5-year-olds. Both books provide a variety of learning experiences based on children's developmental progressions in these domains. Additionally, the Learning Pods include multiple, related opportunities for children to explore or learn concepts or skills in these domains. However, the curriculum lacks clear sequences of learning experiences that progressively build children's Literacy and Scientific Reasoning knowledge and skills. For example, many of the activities that support children's Scientific Inquiry skills are first presented in the Learning Pods for 3-Year-Olds and are then repeated in the Learning Pods for 4- & 5-Year-Olds, offering the same level of engagement and instruction for children. In the domain of Literacy, while the curriculum offers some progressive supports for children in skill areas such as understanding of narrative structure, other skills such as letter identification have repeating activities across the Learning Pods. In addition, no guidance is offered on how to individualize sequences of learning experiences based on children's interests, strengths, and needs.
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 Growing Great Kids™ for Preschoolers curriculum materials indicates that it is mostly aligned with the ELOF. The Learning Pods support children across the majority of ELOF sub-domains, only partially addressing: Creativity and Cognitive Self-Regulation (Executive Functioning).
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.
Learning Goals: Each activity in the Learning Pods includes goals for children's learning and development. Most of the goals are measurable and developmentally appropriate. In addition, the Learning Pods include a set of "developmental objectives" listed by different "pre-academic skills" (e.g., Social-Emotional Preparation, Reading Preparation). The activities generally support children in making progress toward the goals, but the connection between the activities and the developmental objectives is not always clear. In addition, the curriculum manual provides a list of developmental indicators for some domains (e.g., Language Development), but there is no explicit connection between these indicators and the goals in the Learning Pods. The curriculum also provides strategies for home visitors to engage parents in identifying individual goals for their child's learning and development.
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.
Ongoing Observation: Growing Great Kids™ for Preschoolers provides minimal guidance on observing and discussing children's development and learning. Growing Great Families: A Family Strengthening, Stress Management, and Life Skills Curriculum (Growing Great Families) suggests that home visitors and parents do the activity "Getting in Sync with My Child" during each home visit. This activity provides prompts for parents to reflect on what a child is feeling and how to provide emotional support. However, the curriculum materials in Growing Great Kids for Preschoolers do not provide a process for ongoing observation of children's development or how to use information from observation to plan future home visits.
Standardized and Structured Assessment Instruments: The curriculum does not provide direction for how home visitors and families select and use standardized and structured child assessment instruments. It does offer information on using developmental screening tools (e.g., Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA)) in Growing Great Families, but no information on assessment instruments.
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.
Relationships with Parents and Families: The curriculum offers specific guidance for building positive relationships with families that is integrated throughout the curriculum materials and structure of home visits. Each home visit starts with "Making Connections," a dedicated time for home visitors and families to talk through what the family is experiencing, as well as to recognize the efforts of families. The "Conversation Guides" provide home visitors with conversation scripts that could support home visitors' relationships with families (e.g., "This is a partnership, so I will be listening closely to what is going on with you and your child and where you want to go next in the curriculum."). The materials offer a strengths-based approach for home visitors to use with families (e.g., a focus on "accentuating the positives"). Moreover, "Home Time," the last part of home visits, is a time for home visitors to check in with families about using concepts and activities during the week.
Responsive Interactions with Parents and Families: The curriculum provides some information for home visitors on how to be responsive to families (e.g., using a strengths-based approach with families, collaborating to develop IFSPs). However, the "Conversation Guides," which are the foundation of the home visits, give scripted questions and responses for home visitors to use with families. In a description of the "Conversation Guides" during the first visit with families, the home visitor script reads, "You will notice that I am going to be reading from this manual. That is because it includes 'Conversation Guides' for our visits." The scripted nature of the guides leaves little room for home visitors to adaptively respond to families. Additionally, while families can ask which module to progress to next, little guidance is provided to modify activities based on the family's interests, strengths, or needs.
Peer Support: Growing Great Kids™ for Preschoolers includes a few short sections that discuss the importance of social support for families (e.g., "Growing Your Support Network... Strengthening Protective Buffers" in Growing Great Families). However, no explicit guidance is offered on how home visitors can bring families together for group socializations.
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.
Professional Development: The curriculum developers offer comprehensive standardized initial and ongoing training. Home visitors and supervisors are required to attend a 4.5-day in-person training to become certified to use the curriculum. A variety of follow-up training options (e.g., "GGK Advanced Practice Integration," "Fidelity Implementation Training") are offered online through the GK Professional Development Academy and in-person. The curriculum developers also offer consultation services for individual program needs.
Curriculum Materials to Support Implementation: The curriculum includes comprehensive materials and guidance to facilitate understanding of the curriculum. The "Conversation Guides" in Growing Great Families provide home visitors with discussion questions for families. The "HV Notes" are callout boxes in Growing Great Families that provide suggestions to home visitors to highlight certain aspects of activities or areas of development. Additionally, each activity in the Learning Pods provides instructions for implementation.
- Fidelity Tool: Growing Great Kids™ for Preschoolers does not offer a fidelity tool. While Growing Great Kids™: Prenatal–36 Months offers fidelity tools to support implementation, the tools are specific to the infant and toddler version of the curriculum.
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.
Family-Child Relationship: The curriculum provides some guidance for home visitors on how to promote nurturing family-child relationships as the foundation for a child's learning and development. For example, in the section of each home visit called "Getting in Sync with My Child," home visitors support parents to reflect on their child's cues with a list of questions, such as, "What is my child feeling or experiencing right now?" However, in Growing Great Kids™ for Preschoolers, there is limited emphasis on family-child relationships as part of the activities in the Learning Pods.
Active Exploration and Play: Growing Great Kids™ for Preschoolers provides minimal guidance in the Learning Pods on how to engage children in ongoing active exploration and play. The majority of activities described in the Learning Pods are adult-directed and leave little room for children to actively explore and play in open-ended ways. For example, in a drawing activity, children are given an outline of a tree and told to color the parts with specific colors (trunks brown, leaves green, and fruits yellow), which limits opportunities for exploration and play with the activity or materials.
Interactions that Extend Children's Learning: The curriculum provides some general guidance on supporting interactions that extend children's learning (e.g., instructions on how to extend an activity). Some activities include suggestions for parents include revisiting concepts from activities throughout different times of the day (e.g., an activity on shape recognition provides prompts for parents to point out the same shapes in the grocery store). However, the curriculum lacks systematic support throughout the materials for how parents can extend children's exploration, thinking, and communication.
Individualization: Growing Great Kids™ for Preschoolers provides minimal guidance for how to collaborate with families to create learning experiences that are responsive to all children. The curriculum manual describes the importance of building on a family's strengths when interacting with children (e.g., prompts for home visitors to ask families how they are already supporting specific skills). However, activities in the Learning Pods specify sets of instructions for home visitors to follow and lack guidance for collaboration with families to adapt activities based on needs. In addition, minimal support is offered on how to collaborate with families to create learning experiences that are responsive to a child who is a DLL or for a child with a disability, suspected delay, or other special need.
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.
Environment: Growing Great Kids™ for Preschoolers offers minimal guidance on the use of the home as a learning environment to support children's development. Growing Great Families and the curriculum manual mention the importance of safety in the home and space for children to move around. However, limited guidance is provided on creating a home learning environment that supports children's exploration and play. Additionally, no specific guidance is given on how to make a home learning environment accessible for a child with a disability, suspected delay, or other special need.
Learning Materials: Growing Great Kids™ for Preschoolers provides limited guidance on using learning materials that can be found in the home to foster children's exploration and inquiry. While the curriculum describes some "common household items" that can be used in the activities, many of the materials required for the Learning Pods are brought into the home by the home visitor. The Learning Pods suggest that home visitors bring a "Home Visitor Learning Pod Supply Kit" that contains "arts and crafts parents may not have in their homes." Additionally, no specific guidance is offered on how to incorporate learning materials that are accessible for a child with a disability, suspected delay, or other special need to ensure participation in play and other activities.
Routines: The curriculum provides specific guidance on how to establish and support developmentally appropriate routines. Growing Great Families emphasizes how routines (e.g., bath time, mealtime, bedtime) provide natural contexts for children's learning and development (e.g., self-regulation, independence, fine motor skills). In addition, a few activities in the Learning Pods provide guidance on supporting routines (e.g., "Evening Routines," "Eating Healthy Foods," "About Health and Nutrition").
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.
Interactions: Growing Great Families briefly mentions the importance of home visitors interacting with families from diverse backgrounds and cultures. In a unit called "Family Traditions and Cultural Practices," home visitors are provided with some scripted discussion questions to help families reflect on their traditions (e.g., religion, food, dress). Additionally, a few other places in the curriculum prompt home visitors to ask families about cultural practices related to holidays and religion. However, limited guidance is provided on how to interact with families in a culturally responsive manner.
Learning Experiences: The curriculum provides minimal guidance for planning learning experiences based on a family's traditions, culture, and beliefs. A module from Growing Great Families called "Learning about Family Values and Strengths: Strengthening Family Foundations" describes how home visitors and families can discuss what values the families want to pass on to their children. A few activities in the Learning Pods and curriculum manual address cultural traditions (e.g., "¡Hola Piñata!," "Growing Great Traditions"), but there is no clear guidance on how home visitors collaborate with families to adapt learning experiences based on their culture.
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.
Linguistic Responsiveness: Growing Great Kids™ for Preschoolers does not provide guidance on how to intentionally support the development and learning of children who are DLLs or those who are learning tribal languages. The curriculum includes one brief mention of how children who are learning two languages "may do better on standardized tests," but no information on dual language development or collaborating with families on how to support children's development of both their home language and English.
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.
Resources and Referrals: The curriculum offers minimal guidance for home visitors to connect families of a child with a disability, suspected delay, or other special need to resources in the community. Growing Great Families mentions the importance of connecting families with resources in the community, if needed (e.g., Advice for home visitors: "You can best support parents by ... partnering with community-based agencies/early intervention services."). The curriculum does not provide specific guidance for home visitors on how to identify resources or how to support families in a referral process.
Learning Environment: Growing Great Families and the curriculum manual minimally address accessibility of the home environment or learning materials for a child with a disability, suspected delay, or other special need. The module "Unique Needs: Being a Parent of a Child with Special Needs" offers general suggestions for parents and mentions the importance of making a "home environment safe and developmentally rich" for children with unique needs.
Parenting Practices and Interventions: The curriculum offers minimal guidance in Growing Great Families and the curriculum manual on adapting routines and learning experiences for a child with a disability, suspected delay, or other special need. The modules "Unique Needs: Being a Parent of a Child with Special Needs" and "Including Children with Special Needs" briefly mention the importance of adapting activities in the curriculum (e.g., "We can find and adapt activities that your child's care team feels are important.") and provide one example. However, the suggestions are limited and contained only in these two modules.
Individualization Based on Interests, Strengths, and Needs
The curriculum offers guidance on how to individualize based on the interests, strengths, and needs of families and children. Individualization is a process of collaborating with families to plan home visits and learning experiences that are responsive to families and 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.
Individualization Based on Interests: The curriculum provides minimal guidance on tailoring home visits to the interests of children. The curriculum manual offers a few prompts for home visitors to ask families what children might be interested in (e.g., questions about a child's favorite pretend game). However, few activities in the Learning Pods suggest ways to plan or adapt activities based on children's interests, and the overall home visit planning process does not provide guidance on incorporating children's interests.
Individualization Based on Strengths and Needs: The curriculum provides some suggestions for adapting activities in a home visit based on the strengths and needs of children. For example, the module "Unique Needs: Being a Parent of a Child with Special Needs" of Growing Great Families provides broad suggestions for modifying specific sections of the curriculum based on a child's development. One suggestion for the "Play-by-Play" language development activities in the curriculum includes exploring and supporting different kinds of communication a child might use when that child does not use spoken words. However, the majority of activities described in the curriculum do not include support on how to tailor the home visit based on the strengths and needs of individual children.
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.
Family Goals: The curriculum describes a specific process for how to engage parents in setting goals at the family level. Growing Great Families provides a unit on developing an Individual Family Support Plan (IFSP), which includes creating a set of family goals. The unit describes a specific process for home visitors and families on how to select goals, plan action steps toward meeting them, and support reaching those goals.
Ongoing Assessment of Progress Toward Family Goals: Growing Great Families includes a specific process for ongoing assessment of progress toward family goals. The "Supporting Goal Success with Families Blueprint" aids home visitors in engaging with families to check in on goal progress and revisit them when needed. The blueprint includes conversation starters and suggestions for specific steps to take daily, weekly, or monthly.
Resources and Referrals: The curriculum briefly describes the importance of connecting families to resources they might need in Growing Great Families (e.g., referring parents to a family counselor to address traumatic experiences). However, the curriculum lacks comprehensive guidance for referring families to resources in the community to make progress toward reaching their goals.