Social Science Mod. 2 Assignment (W)

Understanding Development and the Design Process
An important part of early childhood education is understanding the learning needs of children in your care. When you consider your classroom, there is a mix of needs present on a daily basis. Some children will need more emotional and social support. Others may need guidance with language, while others need to be challenged to promote physical development. All of these areas combine to support the growth and development of each child and will change throughout the year based on maturation. Children with special needs also experience growth across all areas of development, but the rate and patterns may differ than those of typically developing peers. Understanding where each child is when they come into the classroom helps the educator identify areas to incorporate into the learning environment.
A key element of designing curriculum is to align this to the developmental needs of children. For typical and atypically developing children, it is important to understand the patterns of development for a specific age. The following video provides an overview of developmental milestones for young children. While viewing the Developmental Milestones video, consider how this information would support you in developing meaningful curriculum.
Developmental Milestones
The following fact sheet provides a brief overview of developmental milestones and addresses services that support children with developmental delays. As you read through the information, consider how these resources could support educators in designing meaningful curriculum for their classroom.
National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, (., & FHI, 3. (2012). Developmental Delay. 
NICHCY Disability Fact Sheet #9
Developmentally Appropriate Practice
When designing curriculum for your class, developmental needs are a key consideration. Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) is a major element of all quality early childhood practices and is guided by three main concepts. The National Association for Young Children (NAEYC) provides the criteria used by the majority of early childhood educators. The three main principles of DAP include:
Knowing About Child Development and Learning
Knowing what is typical at each age and stage of early development is crucial. This knowledge, based on research, helps us decide which experiences are best for children’s learning and development.
Knowing What is Individually Appropriate
What we learn about specific children helps us teach and care for each child as an individual. By continually observing children’s play and interaction with the physical environment and others, we learn about each child’s interests, abilities, and developmental progress.
Knowing What is Culturally Important
We must make an effort to get to know the children’s families and learn about the values, expectations, and factors that shape their lives at home and in their communities. This background information helps us provide meaningful, relevant, and respectful learning experiences for each child and family.
NAEYC (2009). Three Core Considerations of DAP.
When you reflect on each of these principles you will notice that these are not specifically related to typically developing children. The principles are in place to provide guidance for educators who work with children of all abilities and needs. When considering the curriculum needs of the children in your care, each principle should be a main factor in the design process.
A child in the toddler room comes from a household with a first language other than English. The classroom you teach is not bilingual. How would DAP support the curriculum and learning needs of this child?
Knowing About Child Development and Learning
As a teacher, you would understand that children at this age are able to learn language very quickly and that many children in this room will have limited language ability. The curriculum for this child would need to address all developmental areas to promote other areas of growth. A large group reading activity of  Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? with movement could promote language, cognitive, and physical development.
Knowing What is Individually Appropriate
The child in this scenario may have additional challenges due to the language barrier. Sometimes children may feel shy if they are placed in a new setting. Observing the child to see if she appears apprehensive or is outgoing with peers is important to help assess the social/emotional needs of the child. The child may also feel very comfortable in certain centers that could be used as a learning tool to promote development. For example, the child may enjoy the computer center. Providing games in the home and second language could promote the language learning of this child.
Knowing What is Culturally Important
Understanding the cultural background of the child is essential. In this example, honoring the home language could be very important to the family. The classroom can provide the opportunity for the child to learn English but can also encourage the home language by providing resources that are in the child’s first language.
Another great resource provided by NAEYC to support the curriculum process is the 12 Principles of Child Development and Learning. The following list identifies important elements of development which support the learning needs of all children. As you read through the list, consider how each of these principles would be used to support a child with a special need.
12 Principles of Child Development and Learning
1. All areas of development and learning are important.
2. Learning and development follow sequences.
3. Development and learning proceed at varying rates.
4. Development and learning result from an interaction of maturation and experience.
5. Early experiences have profound effects on development and learning.
6. Development proceeds toward greater complexity, self-regulation, and symbolic or representational capacities.
7. Children develop best when they have secure relationships.
8. Development and learning occur in and are influenced by multiple social and cultural contexts.
9. Children learn in a variety of ways.
10. Play is an important vehicle for developing self-regulation and promoting language, cognition, and social competence.
11. Development and learning advance when children are challenged.
12. Children’s experiences shape their motivation and approaches to learning.
NAEYC (2009) 12 Principles of Child Development and Learning that Inform Practice.
As you move further into the course you will address specific elements of curriculum design and discuss how various factors guide the process. Although there are many factors involved in this method, the main focus is still supporting the developmental needs of the learners in your classroom. When working with children with special needs, you may need to make adjustments to the plan to support specific goals. Keeping the key principles in mind can provide a strong support structure to guide the curriculum design process.


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