Early Childhood in DoDEA encompasses preschool through grade three, including children with disabilities. We believe that accomplishing DoDEA's mission is dependent on early childhood programs:
- using knowledge of the DoDEA College and Career Ready Standards, formative assessments and child development to provide appropriate instruction, experiences, and materials;
- ensuring students and teachers work in environments where standards-based learning is a process not an event;
- emphasizing relationships, relevance, and academic rigor; reflecting an understanding, appreciation, and celebration of each child's uniqueness.
DoDEA's Early Childhood Guiding Principles capture the spirit of the work of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The following principles underscore DoDEA's commitment to provide all children a high quality education:
- Children are best served in a safe, nurturing, and inclusive environment.
- Optimal learning takes place in an environment where collaborating, discussing, analyzing, and developing personal meaning through application is encouraged and facilitated.
- Early Childhood program practices must be based on research of how young children learn.
- Young children learn and construct knowledge as a result of meaningful and purposeful experiences.
- Programs for young children contain a clear learning focus that is based on DoDEA College and Career Ready Standards.
- Understanding of the skills and concepts within content standards are developed and reinforced through child-initiated and teacher-initiated activities.
- Learning is both individual and social and takes place within a social/cultural context.
- Families of young children are essential partners in the educational process.
- The dignity of young children and their personal circumstances and diversity must be welcomed, respected and affirmed.
- Play is an integral part of quality programs serving young children because..."play is a powerful motivator encouraging children to be creative and develop their ideas, understanding, and language."(Rumbold, 1990)
- Programs for young children must provide opportunities for individual activities and flexible groupings.
- Appropriate assessment instruments are those designed and validated for use with children of a specific age range and characteristics.
- On-going, developmentally appropriate assessment is essential to ensure that instruction reflects the diversity of young children's development and learning.
- Evidence of children's actual performance is gathered from multiple sources over time in realistic settings.