Curricula and Instruction

Cohesive and aligned instruction in high-quality preschool-grade 3 (P3) systems is delivered by effective early childhood teachers in welcoming early childhood environments. Teacher’s instructional efforts are guided by the Minnesota Early Childhood Indicators of Progress (ECIPS) (the early learning standards) and the use of research-based curriculum and assessments that develop the well-being, belonging, and academic success of all students. The motivation and engagement of children is strengthened when the instructional, curriculum, and assessment practices are aligned to ensure continuity for children and families as they begin their educational journeys. Information about assessments that align with the ECIPs, and curriculum and instructional practices can be found on the KEP webpage.

Standards-Curriculum: The ECIPs describe developmental progressions of what children are able to do and know prior to kindergarten entry. The curriculum guides what will be taught and, based on the ECIPS, how they will achieve developmental goals. It is important that the selected curriculum is responsive to all children and reflective of their cultural and home-language background, knowledge, and experiences. By building on prior knowledge and life experiences, children can make sense of and learn from their world inside and outside of the classroom. A comprehensive curriculum approach uses a single curriculum that integrates all learning domains including social-emotional, language and literacy, cognitive, physical and motor development. A bundled curriculum approach uses a collection of domain specific curriculums (social-emotional, language, math, etc.) to assure that all ECIP domains are taught in each child’s daily early learning experience. Whichever approach is used, regular reflection by staff and leadership are needed to continuously improve the curriculum’s content and instructional practices. 

Instructional Practices for Effective Teachers:
Developmentally, culturally, and linguistically responsive instruction is provided through play-based learning combined with direct teacher instruction that fosters children’s natural curiosity, imagination, and problem solving skills. Through careful planning, an instruction is scaffolded leading each child to new information and understandings. To continuously improve high-quality early learning instructional practices, ongoing coordinated professional development and coaching for both school district and community-based early learning providers is essential. Topics are easily identified when they are informed by a measure of adult-child interactions.

Learning Environments: Key to meaningful learning experiences is the development of welcoming environments that connect the inside and outside worlds of children. The indoor, outdoor, and technological spaces that help create strong relationships between children, teachers and parents/guardians are well-planned environments that actively engage all children in ways that inspires learning. Early learning environments are often referred to as the “third teacher” as they have an impact on both the behavior and learning of the children and adults. Adequate and well-designed space affects children’s levels of involvement and the types and quality of the interactions with their teachers, peers, and parents. Learning environments must be constructed thoughtfully to include opportunities for children of all abilities and reflect the cultural and linguistic background of all children in the classroom. Guidance for setting up interactive classrooms and outdoor play spaces can be found on the equipment and supplies forms located on the DHS child care licensing website.

Professional Development: Focused professional development will enable teachers to be highly knowledgeable in early childhood curriculum content, assessment, native and English language development programs, and instructional methods. Learning partnerships created through professional learning communities (PLC), mentor-teacher partnerships, and community-based P3 professional learning collaborations that include both age specific and multiple age/grade level groupings help align practices for children and families.

Professional Development: Focused professional development will enable teachers to be highly knowledgeable in early childhood curriculum content, assessment, native and English language development programs, and instructional methods. Learning partnerships created through professional learning communities (PLC), mentor-teacher partnerships, and community-based P3 professional learning collaborations that include both age specific and multiple age/grade level groupings help align practices for children and families.