Last week we explored the idea of being purposeful and intentional when providing learning opportunities and activities for children. Using best practices in early childhood education and care provides the foundation for being purposeful and intentional.

The following practices are important in providing quality early childhood programming and implementing engaging learning activities for children. They are proven strategies that positively impact a child’s school and life success.
Knowledge Base

It is imperative that educators/providers have a wide knowledge base of the early childhood field including: child development; appropriate milestone expectations; and early learning standards. This knowledge is the basis for providing an environment and learning activities that are age and developmentally appropriate.

Developmentally Appropriate Practice
Understanding child development is key to successfully using Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP) as a means of delivering meaningful learning experiences. Bright Hub Education defines DAP as ‘ ‘a setting and curriculum that meets the cognitive, emotional, and physical needs of children based on child development theories and observations of children’s individual strengths and weaknesses’ (http://www.brighthubeducation.com ). It is important to know what a child should and can do at each stage of development. This allows each child to learn at their own pace and skill level.

Observations and Assessments
Using observations and assessments to document a child’s progress is another key element in providing purposeful and intentional activities. Adapting programming or curriculum to address each child’s individual needs is not hard. It requires an understanding of early learning standards, knowing each individual child, observing during skill development activities and planning for increased skill development.

Positive Behavior Guidance
Young children are just learning how to exhibit self-control, be independent, and solve problems. Positive behavior guidance strategies encourage, guide and model appropriate behaviors so that children make good choices. Children need to experiment, test limits, and experience consequences within the safety of a trusting and respectful relationship with their educators/providers in order to develop positive social skills.

Inclusive Practices
Inclusion is a mindset that nurtures children, not just an adaptation of the physical environment. This is demonstrated through children of all abilities learning, playing and working together as a productive and caring community. The foundation for providing an inclusive environment is to accept and respect all diversity whether it is differences based on race, family dynamics, socio-economic levels, or disabilities. Quality inclusive programs strive to provide an environment in which all children are accepted and valued as important individuals and members of the community.

Personal Professional Development
Educators/providers need to stay current with new research and practices in order to provide the best learning environment possible for the children. Part of this practice is to develop a Personal Professional Development Plan.

Use the following checklist to reflect on your own practices: Best Practices in Early Childhood Programs

See how the Early Learning Success curriculum supports a purposeful and intentional program using best practices Why Us