The Collaborative Center for Literacy Development (CCLD) provides high quality professional development and research on behalf of improved literacy instruction and student achievement from early childhood through adulthood. In order to provide systemic support, CCLD works with early child care providers and educators to develop children’s early language and literacy skills. It supports initiatives that produce highly effective teachers and early childhood care providers who can facilitate the language and learning skills that guarantee future reading, writing, and school success. These early childhood professionals need to know theories of child development, how to meet the unique and varied needs of individual children, and how to plan a research-based curriculum delivered in an interesting and stimulating environment that contributes to the healthy development of young children. The benefits of such early care and education promote both cognitive and social development, as well as fostering language and literacy from birth to age five.
Young children are born with an innate curiosity and an enthusiasm for learning. Despite individual differences present at birth, every young child deserves the opportunity for care and education of the highest quality provided by excellent early childhood educators. To achieve this level of excellence, early childhood professionals need specialized training and education in practices that are most effective in promoting young children’s learning and development, i.e., developmentally appropriate practices.
In 1993 the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) developed a conceptual framework for an effective professional development system with four primary components addressing the diversity of early childhood providers. The framework also includes the provision of professional development opportunities and compensation linked to participation in these opportunities.
In 1998 the International Reading Association (IRA) and NAEYC issued a joint position statement bringing together the accumulated knowledge of both organizations, specifically the processes involved in reading and writing and the stages of child development. They outlined three aspects of developmentally appropriate practice that need to be considered when teaching young children:
- Using the stages of child development to set realistic goals for literacy learning that align with the age (literally and experientially) of the learners
- Ongoing assessment of children’s progress in order to monitor and adapt instruction
- Considering the cultural context of the children’s life experiences by providing relevant instruction and background knowledge
In 2005 IRA issued a position statement on literacy development in the preschool years. It stated the importance of the preschool years, ages 3 and 4, in many areas of development, focusing on the domains of literacy and language development. Skills learned in these areas are critical for children’s success in the future. High-quality preschool experiences can improve social as well as academic performance, particularly when provided by well-prepared and knowledgeable preschool teachers. Research tells us that preschool education benefits children of all economic backgrounds, but it appears that the most benefit comes to children whose parents have the lowest incomes and least formal education.
In 2009 NAEYC developed professional preparation standards that provide a framework for what teachers should know and be able to do. They are:
- Promoting child development and learning
- Building family and community relationships
- Observing, documenting, and assessing
- Using developmentally effective approaches to connect with children and families
- Using content knowledge to build meaningful curriculum
- Becoming a professional
CCLD is committed to providing professional development to early care and education professionals and to partner with other early childhood organizations and agencies in the state in pursuit of this goal.