PA-ECE 7: Developmental and Educational Activities
A variety of activities and lessons promote social, emotional, cognitive, language, and physical development.
The literature identifies developmentally-appropriate practices
as a key area of quality
. Studies have shown that developmentally-appropriate classroom settings predict a consistently high quality of care.
A curriculum, or another type of developmental or educational plan:
- guides the provision of daily activities and the selection of classroom materials;
- promotes social, emotional, physical, language, and cognitive development;
- is developmentally, individually, and culturally appropriate;
- fosters and supports the attitudes and skills needed for learning; and
- acts as the foundation for ongoing assessment of children’s progress.
The chosen curriculum must be: (1) developmentally appropriate and reflect what is known about child development and learning; (2) individually appropriate and reflect the strengths, interests, family situation, interpersonal characteristics, and needs of each individual child within the group setting; and (3) culturally appropriate and reflective of the social and cultural backgrounds of each child in the group.
Interpretation: Ways that teaching staff can foster and support learning skills include:
- providing opportunities for the child to make choices;
- encouraging children to try new things;
- helping children to finish what they start;
- encouraging the child to ask questions;
- providing a wide array of new experiences;
- recognizing achievements and offering praise and encouragement;
- encouraging the child to use materials in new, creative ways; and
- never rushing an activity, allowing the child to get involved and experience full engagement.
Research Note: Helping children practice and develop the attitudes and skills needed to learn allows them to better take advantage of educational opportunities. Learning skills include initiative, engagement, persistence, curiosity, eagerness to learn, reasoning, problem solving, invention, and imagination.
Teaching staff regularly evaluates each child’s development and learning through assessments that are purposeful, well planned, and ongoing.
Assessments are culturally and developmentally appropriate and take into account:
- developmental and educational goals;
- variations in learning and development; and
- input from parents.
Results of assessments:
- are communicated to parents;
- inform the selection of daily activities and classroom materials; and
- are used to evaluate and improve program effectiveness.
Research Note: Carefully observing and documenting each child’s activity patterns, developmental advances, and responses to everyday challenges can help teachers to provide a responsive, supportive learning environment. Planned activities and materials should reflect the daily observations and changing needs of children in the group.
A wide variety of developmentally-appropriate activities are provided including:
- both large- and small-group activities as appropriate to the age range of children in the group;
- independent activity;
- daily opportunities for active and quiet play, nap time, and conversation;
- daily opportunities for both teacher- and child-directed activities;
- opportunities to meet developmental milestones through play;
- daily indoor and outdoor activities, when safety permits; and
- access to external resources such as libraries, museums, and community recreational, educational, and cultural sites or events.
Access to external resources can be provided either in the classroom or in the community.
Research Note: Group activities provide children with an opportunity to play together and learn from one another. Large group activities are not appropriate for infants and toddlers.
Activities, materials, and lessons reflect a multi-cultural society.
Cultural exploration should be embedded in the curriculum to promote cultural awareness, sensitivity, and understanding.
To support cognitive development, classroom activities:
- offer choice;
- provide opportunities to question, experiment, and explore;
- are appropriate to the developmental level of children in the classroom;
- reflect a variety of educational techniques, including play;
- encourage the child’s sense of mastery of new skills and experiences; and
- incorporate curriculum content areas including literacy, math, science, social studies, health and nutrition, and the arts.
Interpretation: Teaching staff can facilitate exploration of the visual and performing arts by:
- offering a variety of developmentally-appropriate art supplies;
- teaching new skills or ways to use art supplies;
- playing music in the classroom;
- displaying children’s art in the classroom;
- exposing children to professional artists;
- displaying art at children’s eye-level;
- singing songs;
- playing instruments; and
- engaging in imaginative play.
Interpretation: Teaching staff can promote the development of literacy skills in infants and toddlers through:
- interactive reading, such as asking questions, reading with expression, and naming objects or people on the pages;
- making board books available in the classroom;
- providing opportunities for children to use writing utensils; or
In pre-school classrooms, the recognition of print should be emphasized by:
- labeling items in the classroom;
- using dictation, where the teacher writes down what the child is saying;
- using print to describe daily routines or rules the child is familiar with;
- making developmentally-appropriate books available in the classroom; and
- providing ample opportunities to recognize and write letters.
Interpretation: Math content for infants and toddlers can include:
- exposure to different shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns through objects in their environment; or
- mathematical concepts that can be expressed non-verbally such as “more or less” or “big and small.”
Math content in pre-school classrooms can include:
- opportunities to gain familiarity with numbers, shapes, and patterns;
- opportunities for children to categorize items by size, color, shape and pattern;
- recognition of numbers and their meaning; or
- use of mathematical terms in their daily life.
Interpretation: Science content for infants and toddlers can include:
- opportunities to explore their senses;
- exploration of cause and effect; or
- opportunities to explore their capacity to affect or change their environment.
Science content in pre-school classrooms can include opportunities to:
- explore the differences between living and non-living things;
- observe the life cycle;
- learn about the earth;
- observe and learn from the weather and their environment;
- exploration of cause and effect;
- use simple tools, such as a magnifying glass, to observe objects; or
- practice different methods of documentation such as drawing pictures.
Interpretation: Social studies content can include discussion, materials, and activities that explore concepts such as:
- varying definitions of family;
- the environment and environmental responsibility;
- friendship; and
- the local community.
Language development is promoted by:
- regularly engaging children in dialogue and encouraging children to engage in conversations with others;
- rephrasing children's ideas in complete sentences;
- minimizing “baby talk”;
- introducing new words and concepts;
- asking open-ended questions;
- talking to children about familiar items or activities;
- offering alternative communication options for children who are non-verbal; and
- responding to vocalizations and attempts at language.
Research Note: Research conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that one of the best predictors of cognitive and language development was the language used by the caregiver. When teaching staff offered more stimulation by talking, asking questions, and responding to vocalizations, children demonstrated improved cognitive and language development.
Activities and materials that promote physical development:
- include the development of both fine and gross muscle control;
- foster a variety of skills including balance, strength, and coordination;
- provide new challenges and reinforce already acquired skills; and
- provide opportunities for shared activities between children of varying abilities.
Interpretation: Activities for infants should focus on exploration of what their own muscles can do such as:
- changing position;
- discovering hands and feet;
- spending time on their stomach; and
- pushing, grabbing, kicking, and mouthing.
Activities for older infants and young toddlers can include:
- walking with assistance; or
- holding and using writing utensils, paint brushes, or other materials that assist in the development of fine motor skills.
In pre-school children, fine motor skills are developed through activities such as:
- working with clay; and
- working with manipulatives.
In pre-school children, gross motor skills are developed through activities such as:
- running; and
Opportunities for social development are incorporated into daily activities, including:
- recognizing opportunities to learn and practice social skills; and
- modeling, encouraging, and teaching pro-social behavior.
Interpretation: Social development among infants can be promoted by:
- recognizing when an infant is interested in interacting with other infants and facilitating that behavior; and
- talking during routine, one-on-one activities such as diapering and feeding.
Teaching staff recognize opportunities for children to learn and practice emotional self-regulation including:
- encouraging exploration of the senses;
- mentoring and practicing skills; and
- helping children to identify and appropriately express their emotions.
Research Note: The ability to identify and appropriately express emotions has been associated with higher academic achievement.
Use of passive and interactive technology is limited, targeted, and purposeful, and the content is:
- supportive of the child’s educational and developmental goals;
- tailored to the child’s age and developmental stage; and
- monitored by staff at all times.
Passive technology includes television and videos and their use should be even more limited than interactive technology such as video games and computers. Neither form should be used for children under the age of two.
NA The program does not use television, video, and computer equipment.