Proceedings from a Working Meeting on School Readiness Research: Guiding the Synthesis of Early Childhood Research. Improving Programs and Practices

12/15/2009

  • Professional development approaches should be developed to support classroom practices that have been shown to foster the developmental outcomes that we would like children to achieve.  Professional development should be based on objectives for children's development rather than on specific curriculum.
  • Researchers and practitioners should explore how interventions for three- and four-year-olds can be integrated with interventions focusing on infants and toddlers. Research suggests that the achievement gap can be seen as early as 24 months (Schultz, Halle, Forry, & Vick, 2008), and children from low-income families are nearly nine months behind their more advantaged peers by the time they are three-years-old (Layzer & Price, 2008). Therefore, it is critical that we think about how to intervene earlier than ages three or four and identify effective birth to five models.
  • Early childhood experiences should be aligned with expectations and goals for kindergarten and elementary school. Research shows that children from low-income families enter schools of lower quality than their more advantages counterparts (e.g., Lee & Loeb, 1995; Stipek, 2004). Therefore, even if children are given a boost by attending high-quality preschool programs, these effects may fade if children do not continue to be provided with high-quality care and learning experiences.
  • Ways to involve parents more effectively in early childhood programs should be identified. Research suggests that parent involvement is critical to children's early learning (Comer & Haynes, 1991; Kohl, Lengua, & McMahon, 2000; Ritblatt, Beatty, Cronan, & Ochoa 2002; Snow, Barnes, Chandler, Goodman, & Hemphill, 1991). However, there is not yet clear evidence of how to integrate a parenting component to produce an effective, comprehensive early childhood model for preschool-aged children.
  • Characteristics of teachers and providers should be considered in developing interventions and professional development approaches, and to include and consider nontraditional learners. There are rising expectations of early educators/caregivers. Some members of the early childhood workforce may find it difficult to implement new approaches, or may disagree with the recommendations coming from the research field. It will be important for future interventions/programs to include efforts to improve educators'/caregivers' human and/or social capital (e.g., consider strategies to support psychological well-being).

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