Evaluating Early Childhood Education Programs

Evaluating Early Childhood Education Programs
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  • 0:00 Early Childhood Education
  • 0:38 Evaluating Programs
  • 2:23 Program Standards
  • 6:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

How do parents select an early childhood education program for their children? This lesson will discuss early childhood education programs and the standards that can be used to evaluate them.

Early Childhood Education

Did you attend preschool? If so, was it a place designed to educate, or was it more about giving kids an opportunity to socialize and play? Maybe it was simply a babysitting service. There are many different approaches to early childhood education, which is loosely defined as any formal schooling that takes place before primary school begins. It's also optional, meaning that children are not required to participate in this type of schooling. In other words, early childhood education refers to the optional education of kids from birth to school age.

Evaluating Programs

How then do parents select the appropriate program for their child? Let's take a closer look at the ways we can evaluate early childhood education programs, using examples of two very different approaches.

Center A is a licensed and accredited early childhood education center that seeks to meet the developmental needs of its students and to prepare them for kindergarten. The facility is run like a school in that it begins at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 3:00 p.m., and has classes that are organized by age, from infants to toddlers to 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds. It is very clean, has state-of-the-art facilities, and adheres to the highest standards for safety.

The teachers at this center are college-educated in early childhood education, and create reports based on individual student progress. The school days include age-appropriate opportunities for learning that focus on socialization, reading, writing, art, music, and physical activity. The students are fed nutritious meals and may have nap time, depending on their age.

Center B is a bit different, because it provides a babysitting service where kids can drop in or out at any time. It isn't required to be licensed because it's operated by a church. The staff in this center has no formal education in early childhood, but are all experienced parents. They provide snacks, do crafts, and play games with the kids, but for the most part, the children just play together as the staff supervises them. The kids are all grouped together in one large room that's filled with toys.

There is no doubt that the two centers are very different, and each offers advantages and disadvantages. Is one better than the other? The answer to this question will depend on what parents want for their children in terms of early childhood education.

Program Standards

When evaluating early childhood education, parents must determine what they're looking for in a program, whether that is an educational experience or simple child care. If the goal is education, parents can take advantage of the multiple professional organizations which exist to promote and govern early childhood education.

One such organization is the National Association for the Education of Young Children. They have written ten specific standards of quality to consider when evaluating early childhood education programs. Let's examine those now.

1. Relationships

This standard seeks to ensure that young children are taught appropriate methods for behavior and socialization. Children should be treated warmly by staff. Furthermore, children must be encouraged to display positive relations with others.

2. Curriculum

The goal of this directive is to support age-appropriate learning, to ensure that students are challenged in ways that they are capable of understanding. Children should be taught in a way that is developmentally appropriate, so lessons and activities should focus on the many facets of development including language, social, cognitive, emotional and physical.

3. Teaching

This standard aims to ensure that early childhood education is delivered in a way that supports and encourages learning. Different learning styles should be recognized, supported, and nurtured through instruction.

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