Curricula and Instructional Practices

Published: June 23, 2008
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Instructional practices and curricula are essential to how young children experience quality education. Head Start Program Performance Standards require that when serving infants, toddlers, or preschoolers, including children with disabilities, a curriculum must address the goals for children's development and learning, the experiences through which they will achieve these goals, the roles of staff and parents in helping children achieve these goals, and the materials needed to support the implementation of the curriculum. In Head Start, a curriculum is always implemented within the context of sound child development principles about how children learn and develop intellectually, emotionally, physically, and socially.

Researchers at Head Start’s Ninth National Research Conference presented their work on specific curricula or curricular components and their associations to early childhood outcomes, as well as particular instructional strategies used by early child educators in the classroom. Other research areas included the effectiveness of curricula in developing children’s executive function and emergent literacy skills; the role of teacher language use in fostering children’s social-emotional competences, and the importance of individualizing instruction for the growth of early reading skills. Issues of teacher fidelity of implementation were also addressed.

Head Start's 9th National Research Conference