This summer’s Olympic games have gotten me thinking about gold medals and who deserves ’em. If I were to award one organization with the distinction of “the gold medal” in early childhood care and education, it would have to go to NAEYC – the National Association for the Education of Young Children. These folks provide us with a road map to navigate the complex world that is the care of young children. They do this through processes of accreditation for programs for young children, as well as for programs in higher ed that educate the teachers who work in aforesaid programs.
NAEYC has described 10 separate but interwoven standards that programs must meet to achieve accreditation. According to their website:
Ensuring the quality of children’s daily experiences in early childhood programs and promoting positive child outcomes is the goal of the 10 NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Criteria.There are ten program standards, with specific criteria attached to each, that programs must meet in order to achieve NAEYC Accreditation. The framework of the standards and criteria focus on best practices in the field and the benefits to stakeholders in early childhood education. There are four groups of early childhood education stakeholders: children, teachers, family and community partners, and the program administration.Each of the ten standards falls under a category according to the early childhood education stakeholder. As the breakdown below illustrates, the majority of the standards focus on children–the most important stakeholders. The remainder of the ten standards focus on other stakeholders and the programmatic structure they build to support quality.ChildrenStandards under this group focus on the advancement of children’s learning and development.
- Standard 1: Relationships
- Standard 2: Curriculum
- Standard 3: Teaching
- Standard 4: Assessment of Child Progress
- Standard 5: HealthTeachersThe focus for this standard is on the qualifications, knowledge, and professional commitment of a program’s teaching staff.
- Standard 6: TeachersFamily and Community PartnersThe two standards focus on relevant partnerships the program establishes with both families and the community.
- Standard 7: Families
- Standard 8: Community RelationshipsProgram AdministrationThe final two standards focus on the program’s physical environment and the leadership and management provided by the program administration.
- Standard 9: Physical Environment
- Standard 10: Leadership and Management
It is hard, almost impossible, to tease out which of the standards applies directly to early math education because each area of development, programming and teaching is intricately connected. You might think that we should focus on “teaching” and “curriculum” but materials would fall under “environment” and we have already begun exploring the need for “family involvement”. Working toward excellence in each of the standards should be every program’s goal.
That way we all win a gold medal.