September 2021 Curriculum and Instruction Committee

Topic Focus: Early Childhood Education

Background: Early childhood education provides a solid foundation for our children’s future development and promotes lifelong learning and social development. This month the Curriculum and Instruction Committee invited experts and practitioners to look at best practices in early education across the District. The Committee placed a special focus on the District’s inclusion programs and requirements. The goal for inclusion is to educate all students in the least restrictive environment, with equitable access to grade-level instruction, support services, and enrichment activities that promote their short-term and long-term outcomes. Dr. Dean Tagawa explained some of the best programs that target the needs of our youngest learners.

Key Ideas Presented

  • Preschool Collaborative Classrooms (PCC) for preschool children in Early Education Center programs and children with moderate to severe needs eligible for special education. Content in these classrooms stresses goals and objectives through developmentally appropriate concrete experiences and play. Teaching is culturally relevant and ensures all students are included and applauded; and, students engage collaboratively to work, play, and model learning. These inclusive settings provide typically developing children with opportunities to learn new skills, values, and attitudes related to human differences, including learning how to befriend those different from themselves.  Special education students may leave the program completely or go into general education settings with some support.
  • Dual Language Learning (DLL). SEAL (Sobrato Early Academic Language) is an English Learner-focused and inclusive approach engaging students to work together for rigorous and joyful content and language-rich learning. Research shows that when English Learners’ home language is treated as an asset, and learning is tailored to meet needs, these children succeed academically. If given adequate exposure to two languages, young children can acquire full competence in both. Other benefits include improved academic outcomes in school, enhancement of certain cognitive skills, better language skills, and future academic performance.
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math or STEAM in Early Education. In this program, students engage in challenging age-appropriate and fun investigations to discover how things work, develop curiosity, and learn to ask questions. The goal is to better understand the world around them by learning to gather evidence and make arguments to express understanding to peers and teachers. STEAM instruction helps develop confidence, promotes independent thinking, and willingness to take risks.  Students develop a “try, try again” attitude and they succeed because STEAM allows students to figure things out in different ways. Language development improves as students share their findings and demonstrate accomplishments.

View the meeting here: