Early childhood development is a topic that requires precise attention from policy and decision-makers to ensure that childhood experiences would have a positive impact on a child’s life trajectory. Cognitive abilities, psychosocial skills, and relationships are the key issues that determine effective early childhood practices. This letter aims to advocate for the decision to pair the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) that is provided at a federal level with the state financial support.
Examining the Policy and Its Impact
In spite of the importance of early childhood development, policymakers often underestimate the dynamics of child needs and associated costs. The CCDBG offers child care subsidy programs that are aimed at assisting low-income families, acting as a funding resource. The evidence shows that care costs can put a significant burden on working families and that quality of care also affects child development outcomes (Gomez, Kagan, S& Fox, 2015).
In this connection, it is critical to help the most vulnerable children by providing relevant education, information to parents, and safety. Currently, 1.5 million low-income children are engaged in the programs of the CCDBG, while Congress approved an additional $2.37 billion to be allocated for such programs in 2018 (“Early childhood policy overview,” 2019). The key messages that are integrated into the identified policy are the call for transparency and continuous improvement to meet child and family needs.
However, more support is required due to different needs that children have, including cognitive, behavioral, and social development. For some children, it is better to adapt to the environment, but children with special needs may require changing the learning methods to match their abilities. According to a cognitive learning theory by Piaget, the internal processing of information under the impact of both internal and external factors is the basis of education (Mazur, 2015). This approach contradicts the behaviorist theory that considers learning as the result of merely responding to certain stimuli (Mazur, 2015).
The use of differentiated instructions would allow for implementing various solutions, which leads to the opportunity for individual learning. Therefore, by pairing the state and federal funding, it is possible to achieve greater coverage of children who need assistance, which would also reduce the difficulties that are associated with receiving such grants. Meeting the proposed decision would require investments in the state-level systems to design, deliver, sustain, and evaluate early childhood development programs.
Students’ Readiness to Learning and Professional Collaboration
While early childhood development programs benefit children, their readiness for learning should not be underestimated. A family and environment are the main factors that largely determine the extent to which students are prepared to acquire new knowledge and skills. As stated by Pratt, McClelland, Swanson, and Lipscomb (2016), the dimension of linguistic preparedness include language and literacy development, which should meet the requirements that are set by international and local organizations.
For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mentions that children at age 3 are expected to present speech emergence and the ability to use simple sentences (Pratt et al., 2016). The Mayo Clinic clarifies that children of the given age should group objects, repeat sentences, answer simple questions, and express some feelings and ideas.
Social and emotional types of development are closely intertwined, and, therefore, they can be assessed in combination. The relationships of a child with his or her peers, educators, and parents can be used to understand the readiness to establish additional links and strengthen the existing ones. More to the point, a child’s sense of self can be evaluated based on a range of questions about his or her interests and preferences, comparing them with those of peers.
The reactions of students towards the failures and successes of others are useful to understand their empathy levels, as well as the ability to resolve problems. Impulse control and emotion regulation are two more aspects, the evaluation of which is possible through focusing on a student’s behavior, verbal expressions, self-regulation, and meeting social expectations.
The outcomes of teaching and learning can be assessed by a team of educational professionals, including educators, speech pathologists, researchers, language specialists, et cetera. The collaboration with colleagues should imply that all the involved stakeholders are familiar with students’ individualized educational plans (IEPs) and modifications that are necessary to introduce. Co-evaluation is one of the forms of making sure that all developmental dimensions of students are taken into account (Valiandes, 2015).
For example, content-specific teachers, paraprofessionals, and other involved specialists should assess the students and provide information to a special education teacher, who would synthesize it. It should be stressed that consistency cultivation should be achieved by applying common policies and procedures. The findings generated by researchers can be shared with teachers so that they can design new evaluation strategies. In their turn, teachers can advocate for grants and other subsidies to implement the solutions that were offered by scholars.
In early childhood development, the differentiation of instructions refers to adjusting the content, products, learning environment, and/or the process of learning. The core reason for differentiating is the efforts of teachers to appropriately respond to students’ needs, providing flexible education and assessment of results. The purposeful and ample organization of learning is another idea that is proposed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAYEC) as a way to meet students where they are, which allows reaching individual students regardless of their current academic level (Goddard, Goddard & Kim, 2015).
For example, changing the language of a task or scaffolding a learning activity from medium to easy can significantly help students to successfully complete assignments. At the same time, do-overs can be given more difficult tasks and allowed to learn at their own pace, which encourages his or her efforts in a long-term period.
Instruction differentiation is also based on the recognition of the fact that all developmental domains are important and interrelated. Such an approach promotes continuous interaction between a child’s experience and biological maturation. Consequently, the very process of development moves towards greater self-regulation, complexity, as well as increased learning capacity (Goddard et al., 2015). The responsiveness of educators and family engagement create a safe environment, in which students learn to create and support relationships and discover opportunities.
In conclusion, this paper advocates for pairing the state funding of early childhood development education with the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). Considering that low-income children cannot afford education costs, this decision would help them in receiving teaching based on differentiated learning instructions. The readiness of students to the proposed programs should be assessed by an interdisciplinary team, following the milestones that are elaborated by the CDC, NAYEC, et cetera. Ultimately, steady yet persistent development in terms of differentiated learning shapes children’s motivation, flexibility, and initiative, which positively impact their personality and future life trajectory.
Early childhood policy overview. (2019). Web.
Goddard, Y., Goddard, R., & Kim, M. (2015). School instructional climate and student achievement: An examination of group norms for differentiated instruction. American Journal of Education, 122(1), 111-131.
Gomez, R. E., Kagan, S. L., & Fox, E. A. (2015). Professional development of the early childhood education teaching workforce in the United States: An overview. Professional Development in Education, 41(2), 169-186.
Mazur, J. E. (2015). Learning and behavior (7th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Pratt, M. E., McClelland, M. M., Swanson, J., & Lipscomb, S. T. (2016). Family risk profiles and school readiness: A person-centered approach. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 36, 462-474.
Valiandes, S. (2015). Evaluating the impact of differentiated instruction on literacy and reading in mixed ability classrooms: Quality and equity dimensions of education effectiveness. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 45, 17-26.