How to Establish Goals for an Early Learning Program
Build your early learning program with thoughtful consideration of the goals and strengths you bring to the teaching community. Careful research and planning will help you develop an early learning program that you and the kids will love.
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Delivering an early learning program is an important role for educators. Activities, environments, and social interactions all play a part in early childhood development.
Understanding the goals you wish to achieve is a key part of the process of building a quality program. When the content aligns with your goals, you will be more committed to delivering the program that is exciting and fulfilling for both teachers and students.
Nevertheless. establishing goals is effective only if you are willing to be flexible, and commit to continuing education. The knowledge and insight you bring to the early learning environment may develop and grow over time as you gain experience and additional training.
This article is the first of a four-part series on building a solid program for preschool and kindergarten.
Four-Part Series: Developing an Early Learning Program.
The articles in the series discuss factors you might be considering as you plan, develop and implement an early learning program.
Find the complete list of topics in the series at the end of this post.
Part 1: Determine the Goals of your Early Learning Program
This article discusses basic principles which I hope will help serve as a foundation for the goals and values you bring to your early learning program.
While planning requires both insight and inspiration, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming.
Begin with establishing goals.
Developing goals for preschool program
Teaching children is a valuable profession that requires patience and understanding, resourcefulness and commitment.
An early learning program for ages three to five requires its own set of tools to prepare and deliver.
Daily needs of preschoolers
I have enjoyed teaching and interacting with children in preschool and day care settings, part day and full day programs. In my opinion, early childhood educators have a two-fold task ahead of them when they enter the workplace (the learning environment) each day.
- Early childhood educators are responsible for nurturing and guiding children with responsiveness and sensitivity as well as with appropriate curriculum. This responsibility can be more easily achieved with a knowledge of cognitive skill levels and educational requirements of young children.
- Early childhood educators must be prepared to play all day while at work! Many proponents of early childhood education advocate play as the most important component on which to build an early learning program. Educating children is a serious business, but it is a job that requires us to be diligent in our efforts to make learning fun.
Factors to consider for developing goals
While the underlying goal of any early learning program is to support social, emotional and cognitive learning, approaches in delivery of the program can vary.
There are several factors to consider that may facilitate your success in building an early learning program.
1. Understand your teaching style.
- This will be influenced by the training you completed, as well as personal preferences for activities you plan to provide.
- You may want to incorporate school readiness practices, provide mostly outdoor play, or concentrate on small group learning with table activities.
2. Anticipate the classroom environment.
- Factors that will influence your goals are staff to children ratios and physical conditions of the learning environment such as floor space, furnishings, and toys and materials.
- A licensed center will have its own set of conditions or requirements regarding early education best practices, both in program and environment.
3. Research age-appropriate resources for activities that support your program.
- Plan activities based on skill levels and popular topics of interest of the age group you will be teaching.
- Determine how best practices will affect the goals (delivery) of your program.
4. Establish a daily schedule.
- Consider the daily schedule early on in your goal planning. This will help identify time needed for each activity during the day, or supervision required for events.
- The schedule should exhibit flexibility for overlaps in time from event to another, including transition times.
5. Build a network of colleagues, parents and teachers. This network will be a valuable source of everything from how to set up your classroom to information related to current regulations and updated curriculum. This will be helpful as you proceed with establishing your goals.
- Have conversations with teachers in early education.
- Visit classrooms and child care centers to observe delivery of programs.
- Acquire information through workshops, seminars, social media, newsletters.
6. Explore curriculum options.
- The curriculum model(s) early childhood educators draw from may be determined by their training and/or teaching preferences. In some cases a combination of elements from one or more influences may be evident in an early learning program.
- Established curriculum models include The Montessori Method, The High/Scope® Approach, and The Reggio Emilia Approach. Each theory identifies established teaching practices and learning environments for young children. Some models require certification in order to verify expertise in the delivery of the program.
Regardless of the model(s) used, early learning teachers recognize the value of play for nurturing the development of cognitive, social, physical, fine motor and language skills of the children in their care.
The goals you settle on should always support initial objective - to deliver a quality program to early learners.
Here is the list of posts in this 4-part series:
Part 1: Determine the Goals of your Early Learning Program (you are here)