Approaches to Learning: The DLM Early Childhood Express® promotes a few research-based teaching practices to support children's approaches to learning, such as providing guidance on classroom organization (e.g., sample schedules, tips to support children during transitions) and scaffolding children's executive functioning skills (e.g., presenting new information in short segments; using tools to facilitate children's memory and attention, such as a "talking stick"). However, the curriculum lacks opportunities for child-initiated play, activities based on children's interests, and learning centers that promote open-ended exploration, which research shows are important for supporting children's attention, persistence, curiosity, and creativity.
Social and Emotional Development: The DLM Early Childhood Express® promotes a few research-based teaching practices in this domain, such as using language to support children's social and emotional development and providing many informal and formal opportunities for children to practice social interaction and relationship skills. However, there is limited evidence of how the curriculum helps teachers establish an emotionally supportive environment and build secure, trusting relationships with children. Furthermore, the curriculum offers structured activities to help children understand emotions and social problem-solving (e.g., puppet shows or storybooks that focus on feelings or peer conflicts), but it lacks guidance on how to support children as they learn to regulate their emotions and resolve conflicts during daily routines and free play.
Language and Communication: The DLM Early Childhood Express® promotes some research-based teaching practices in this domain, such as supporting children's vocabulary development and phonological awareness. The Teacher's Editions offer suggested vocabulary for each unit as well as guidance on how to introduce new vocabulary to children. Daily "Language Time" includes guidance for phonological awareness activities, and these experiences become more complex over the course of the units. However, the curriculum includes less evidence for other research-based teaching practices, such as planning language experiences based on rich and engaging content or children's existing knowledge, skills, and interests (i.e., most content is pre-determined in thematic units and may or may not be interesting or meaningful to the children).
Literacy: The DLM Early Childhood Express® promotes some research-based teaching practices to support literacy, such as providing varied opportunities for children to discuss, use, and make print materials (e.g., ABC Center and Writer's Center, daily writing activities). Furthermore, daily interactive read-alouds provide opportunities for children to develop concepts about print, comprehend text, and enjoy books, which research shows are critical early literacy skills. However, the curriculum includes less evidence for planning literacy experiences based on rich and engaging content or children's existing knowledge, skills, and interests (i.e., most content is pre-determined in thematic units and may or may not be interesting or meaningful to the children).
Mathematics Development: The curriculum promotes some research-based teaching practices to support children's mathematics development. For example, the math curriculum, Building Blocks, offers intentionally planned mathematical learning experiences. The curriculum provides 15-minute "Math Time" each day in a large group, a variety of related small group math activities as part of the classroom's "Math and Science Center," and online math activities as part of Building Blocks. Learning experiences are sequenced based on children's developmental progressions, provide many opportunities to practice mathematical skills, and introduce children to the language of mathematics. However, the activities are highly structured, teacher-directed, and pre-planned, and offer very few opportunities to apply math purposefully in contexts meaningful for children. There are also very few opportunities for children to engage in problem-solving, inquiry, and creative invention.
Scientific Reasoning: The DLM Early Childhood Express® promotes a few research-based teaching practices in this domain, such as embedding science into daily activities and encouraging children to use language and other forms of communication to describe and document their work. However, the science learning experiences do not build on children's knowledge, skills, and interests, providing little opportunity for children to engage with content that is meaningful to them. Often, the content is not developmentally appropriate (e.g., discussing where rockets go and how they move). Furthermore, the activities and learning centers are pre-planned and teacher directed, which does not allow for children's experiential learning, inquiry, and open-ended investigation.
Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development: The DLM Early Childhood Express® provides a few research-based teaching practices to support children's perceptual, motor, and physical development, such as supporting the development of children's perceptual motor skills (e.g., prompting children to move in different ways, such as galloping and skipping, and asking children to describe their movement) and fine motor skills (e.g., gluing small buttons in an art activity, using stirring sticks to form shapes). While the curriculum provides some physical activities, it lacks ample opportunities for children to practice gross motor skills and self-care skills. Furthermore, the curriculum lacks guidance on how teachers can create a safe indoor and outdoor environment that encourages active physical exploration.