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Volume 1


Volume 1
Social-Emotional Development
Language and Literacy
English-Language Development
Publishing Information

The California Preschool Curriculum Framework, Volume 1, was

developed by the Child Development Division, California Depart-
ment of Education. It was designed and prepared for printing by
the staff of CDE Press and was published by the Department,
1430 N Street, Sacramento, CA 95814-5901. It was distributed
under the provisions of the Library Distribution Act and Govern-
ment Code Section 11096.

This publication was edited by Faye Ong, working in cooperation

with Desiree Soto, Consultant, Child Development Division. It was
designed and prepared for printing by the staff of CDE Press, with
the cover and interior design created by Cheryl McDonald. It was
published by the Department of Education, 1430 N Street, Sacra-
mento, CA 95814-5901. It was distributed under the provisions of
the Library Distribution Act and Government Code Section 11096.

2010 by the California Department of Education

All rights reserved

ISBN 978-8011-1682-7

Ordering Information
Copies of this publication are available for sale from the California
Department of Education. For prices and ordering information,
please visit the Department Web site at
pn or call the CDE Press Sales Office at (800) 995-4099.

The guidance in the California Preschool Curriculum Framework,
Volume 1, is not binding on local educational agencies or other
entities. Except for the statutes, regulations, and court decisions
that are referenced herein, the documents is exemplary, and
compliance with it is not mandatory. (See Education Code Section
A Message from the State Superintendent Social Interaction ........................................ 62
of Public Instruction.................................. v 1.0 Interactions with Familiar Adults......... 63
Acknowledgments.........................................vii 2.0 Interactions with Peers ....................... 65
3.0 Group Participation ............................ 69
4.0 Cooperation and Responsibility............ 73
Chapter 1 Bringing It All Together . ........................... 76
Introduction Relationships .............................................. 78
to the Framework............. 1 1.0 Attachments to Parents ...................... 79
Californias Preschool Children....................... 3 2.0 Close Relationships with Teachers
Overarching Principles.................................... 5 and Caregivers..................................... 81
Organization of the Framework....................... 9 3.0 Friendships......................................... 83
English-Language Development and Bringing It All Together.............................. 85
Learning in All Domains............................ 10 Concluding Thoughts................................... 87
Universal Design for Learning....................... 13 Map of the Foundations................................ 88
Curriculum Planning.................................... 13 Teacher Resources........................................ 89
The Daily Schedule....................................... 16 References.................................................... 91
The Curriculum-Planning Process................. 19 Endnotes...................................................... 94
Implementation of the Framework................. 24
Bibliography................................................. 25
Endnotes...................................................... 27 Chapter 4
and Literacy..................... 97
Chapter 2
Guiding Principles.......................................100
The California
Environments and Materials........................103
Early Learning and Summary of Language Foundations.............109
Development System..... 29 Summary of Literacy Foundations...............109
Preschool Learning Foundations................... 30 Summary of the Strands and
Preschool Curriculum Framework................. 31 Substrands.............................................. 110
Desired Results Assessment System............. 32 Language.....................................................110
Program Guidelines and Other Resources..... 35 Listening and Speaking ...........................110
Professional Development............................. 36 1.0 Language Use and Conventions.... 111
In-Depth Understanding and Planning 2.0 Vocabulary................................... 117
for Childrens Integrated Learning.............. 36 3.0 Grammar...................................... 122
Bringing It All Together....................... 125
Chapter 3 Reading...................................................128
Social-Emotional 1.0 Concepts about Print.....................129
Development. .................. 37 2.0 Phonological Awareness.................133
3.0 Alphabetics and Word/Print
Guiding Principles........................................ 39
Environments and Materials......................... 42
4.0 Comprehension and Analysis
Summary of the Strands and Substrands..... 44
of Age-Appropriate Text.................146
Self................................................................45 5.0 Literacy Interest and Response......151
1.0 Self-Awareness ................................... 46 Bringing It All Together........................154
2.0 Self-Regulation.................................... 48
3.0 Social and Emotional Understanding... 52
1.0 Writing Strategies..........................159
4.0 Empathy and Caring . ......................... 55
Bringing It All Together........................165
5.0 Initiative in Learning............................ 57
Bringing It All Together.............................. 60

Concluding Thoughts..................................168 Concluding Thoughts..................................224
Map of the Foundations...............................169 Map of the Foundations...............................225
Teacher Resources.......................................170 Teacher Resources.......................................226
References...................................................171 References...................................................228
Endnotes.....................................................172 Endnotes.....................................................230

Chapter 5
English-Language Chapter 6
Development. .................177 Mathematics...................231
Guiding Principles.......................................180 Guiding Principles.......................................233
Environments and Materials........................181 Environments and Materials........................237
Summary of the Strands..............................183 Summary of the Strands and Substrands....239
Summary of the Strands and Substrands....184 Number Sense.............................................241
Cultural Context of Learning........................185 1.0 Understanding Number and
Stages of Second-Language Development.....185 Quantity............................................242
Assessment Approaches for Preschool 2.0 Understanding Number
English Learners.....................................186 Relationships and Operations............251
Listening.....................................................188 Bringing It All Together............................256
1.0 Children Listen with Algebra and Functions (Classification
Understanding...................................189 and Patterning).......................................259
Bringing It All Together............................194 1.0 Classification.....................................260
Speaking.....................................................196 2.0 Patterning.........................................264
1.0 Children Use Nonverbal and Verbal Bringing It All Together............................269
Strategies to Communicate Measurement..............................................272
with Others.......................................197 1.0 Compare, Order, and Measure
2.0 Children Begin to Understand and Objects..............................................273
Use Social Conventions in English.....200 Bringing It All Together............................279
3.0 Children Use Language to Create Geometry....................................................281
Oral Narratives About Their 1.0 Shapes..............................................282
Personal Experiences.........................201 2.0 Positions in Space..............................286
Bringing It All Together............................204 Bringing It All Together............................294
Reading.......................................................206 Mathematical Reasoning.............................290
1.0 Children Demonstrate Appreciation 1.0 Promoting Mathematical Reasoning
and Enjoyment of Reading and Problem Solving..........................291
and Literature...................................207 Bringing It All Together............................294
2.0 Children Show an Increasing
Concluding Thoughts..................................295
Understanding of Book Reading.........209
Map of the Foundations...............................296
3.0 Children Demonstrate an
Teacher Resources.......................................297
Understanding of Print
4.0 Children Demonstrate Awareness
That Print Carries Meaning................212 Appendix A. The California Early
5.0 Children Demonstrate Progress Learning and Development System.........303
in Their Knowledge of the Alphabet Appendix B. Reflections on Research:
in English..........................................213 Phonological Awareness.........................304
6.0 Children Demonstrate Phonological Appendix C. Reflections on Research:
Awareness.........................................214 Alphabetics and Word/Print
Bringing It All Together............................217 Recognition.............................................313
Writing .......................................................219 Appendix D. Resources for Teachers
1.0 Children Use Writing to of Children with Disabilities or
Communicate Their Ideas..................220 Other Special Needs................................319
Bringing It All Together............................222 Glossary......................................................323

A Message from the
State Superintendent of Public

I am pleased to present the California

Preschool Curriculum Framework,
Volume 1, a publication I believe will be a
illustrated by vignettes. The strategies per-
tain to both the learning environment and
teachers interactions with children. These
major step in working to close the school- chapters offer key principles and a rich
readiness gap for young children in our variety of ideas for early childhood educa-
state. Created as a companion to the tors to support the learning and develop-
California Preschool Learning Foundations, ment of preschool children. There are spe-
Volume 1, this framework presents strate- cific principles and strategies for teaching
gies and information to enrich learning children who are English learners.
and development opportunities for all of Two themes are interwoven through-
Californias preschool children. out this volume: young children learn
Like the first volume of the preschool through play, and their families are their
learning foundations, this curriculum first teachers. As young children play, they
framework focuses on four learning use language to create meaning, explore
domains: social-emotional development, social roles, and solve mathematical prob-
language and literacy, English-language lems. Through studying their play, early
development, and mathematics. Topics educators discover ways to build on young
include guiding principles, in particular, childrens lively engagement with learn-
the vital role of the family in early learn- ing. Another strategy for expanding young
ing and development; the diversity of childrens learning is to collaborate with
young children in California; and the their families. Together, early educators
ongoing cycle of observing, documenting, and family members can create meaning-
assessing, planning, and implementing ful learning experiences for young children
curriculum. The preschool curriculum in preschool and at home.
framework takes an integrated approach to The preschool curriculum framework
early learning and describes how curricu- speaks to new early childhood educators
lum planning considers the connections as well as experienced ones. It recognizes
between different domains as children the best practices already used by pre-
engage in teacher-guided learning activi- school programs and provides new ideas
ties. A description of Californias Early that bring the preschool learning founda-
Learning and Development System, which tions to life for everyone responsible for the
places the learning foundations at the care and education of young children.
center, explains the alignment of the
components to the foundations.
The remaining chapters focus on the
learning domains. Each chapter provides
an overview of a domain, the foundations
for that domain, principles in planning JACK OCONNELL
curriculum, and curriculum strategies State Superintendent of Public Instruction


T he development of the preschool

curriculum framework involved many
people. The following groups contributed:
Chapter 3: Social-Emotional
Janet Thompson, University of California,
(1)project leaders; (2)principal writers; Davis
(3)community college faculty advisers; Ross Thompson, University of California,
(4)universal design advisers; (5)project Davis
staff and advisers from the WestEd Kelly Twibell, University of California,
Center for Child and Family Studies; Davis
(6)staff from the California Department of
Education; (7)early childhood education Chapter 4: Language and Literacy
stakeholder organizations; (8)participants Language
in the formative and review focus groups; Roberta Golinkoff, University of
(9)participants in the Web posting pro Delaware
cess; and (10)participants in the public Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, Temple University
hearing process. Literacy
Judith Schickedanz, Boston University
Project Leaders
Chapter 5: English-Language
The following staff members are grate- Development
fully acknowledged for their contributions:
Linda Espinosa, University of Missouri
Peter Mangione, Katie Monahan, and
Marlene Zepeda, California State
Cathy Tsao, WestEd.
University, Los Angeles

Principal Writers Chapter 6: Mathematics

Special thanks are extended to the Osnat Zur, WestEd
principal writers for their expertise and Appendix B. Reflections on Research:
Phonological Awareness
Chapter 1: Introduction
Appendix C: Reflections on Research:
Peter Mangione, WestEd Alphabetics and Word/Print Recognition
Mary Jane Maguire-Fong, American
River College Judith Schickedanz, Boston University
Contributors Community College Faculty
Katie Monahan, WestEd Advisers
Charlotte Tilson, WestEd
Special thanks are extended to the
Cathy Tsao, WestEd
faculty advisers for their expertise and
Chapter 2: The California Early contributions.
Learning and Development System Caroline Carney, Monterey Peninsula
Peter Mangione, WestEd College
Melinda Brookshire, WestEd Ofelia Garcia, Cabrillo College
Jenna Bilmes, WestEd Marie Jones, American River College
Jan Davis, WestEd Margie Perez-Sesser, Cuesta College

Universal Design Advisers Meredith Cathcart, Consultant, Special
The following universal design experts Education Division, contributed her
are gratefully acknowledged for their expertise.
Maurine Ballard-Rosa, California State
Early Childhood Education
University, Sacramento Stakeholder Organizations
Meryl Berk, Vision Consultant, HOPE Representatives from many statewide
Infant Family Support Program, organizations provided perspectives
San Diego County Office of Education affecting various aspects of the curriculum
Linda Brault, WestEd framework.
Action Alliance for Children
WestEd Center for Child and
Alliance for a Better Community
Family StudiesProject Staff Asian Pacific Islander Community
and Advisers Action Network
Linda Brault Association of California School
Melinda Brookshire Administrators
Caroline Pietrangelo Owens Baccalaureate Pathways in Early
Teresa Ragsdale Childhood Education (BPECE)
Amy Schustz-Alvarez Black Child Development Institute (BCDI),
Charlotte Tilson Sacramento Affiliate
Rebeca Valdivia California Alliance Concerned with
Ann-Marie Wiese School-Age Parenting and Pregnancy
Osnat Zur Prevention (CACSAP/Cal-SAFE)
California Association for Bilingual
California Department Education (CABE)
of Education California Association for the Education
Thanks are also extended to the follow of Young Children (CAEYC)
ing staff members: Gavin Payne, Chief California Association of Family Child
Deputy Superintendent; Rick Miller, Care (CAFCC)
Deputy Superintendent, P-16 Policy and California Association of Latino
Information Branch; Camille Maben, Superintendents and Administrators
Director, Child Development Division; (CALSA)
Cecelia Fisher-Dahms, Administrator, California Child Care Coordinators
Quality Improvement Office; and Desiree Association
Soto, Consultant, Child Development California Child Care Resource and
Division, for ongoing revisions and recom- Referral Network (CCCRRN)
mendations. During the lengthy develop- California Child Development
ment process, many staff members of the Administrators Association (CCDAA)
Child Development Division were involved California Child Development Corps
at various levels: Anthony Monreal,* California Commission for Teacher
Michael Jett,* Gwen Stephens,* Gail Credentialing
Brodie, Sy Dang Nguyen, Mary Smith- California Community College Early
berger, Maria Trejo, and Charles Vail. Childhood Educators (CCCECE)
California Community Colleges
*During the development of the framework, these Chancellors Office (CCCCO)
individuals worked for the California Department California County Superintendents
of Education. Educational Services Association

California Early Reading First Network Preschool California
California Federation of Teachers (CFT) Professional Association for Childhood
California Head Start Association (CHSA) Education (PACE)
California Kindergarten Association Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA)
California National Even Start Association Organization
California Preschool Instructional Network University of California Child Care
California Professors of Early Childhood Directors
Special Education (CAPECSE) University of California Office of the
California School Boards Association President (UCOP)
California State Parent-Teacher Voices for African-American Students, Inc.
Association (VAAS)
California State University Office of the Zero to Three
California Teachers Association Public Input
California Tomorrow Ten focus groups consisting of 147 mem
Californians Together bers gave valuable feedback, and others
Campaign for High Quality Early Learning offered suggestions during a public review
Standards in California of the draft that was posted online.
Child Development Policy Institute
Children Now
The Childrens Collabrium
Council for Exceptional Children/The Many photographers contributed to a
California Division for Early Childhood large pool of photographs taken over the
(Cal DEC) years and collected by WestEd. Special
Council of CSU Campus Childcare thanks are extended to WestEd and the
(CCSUCC) photographers. The following child care
Curriculum Alignment Project agencies deserve thanks for allowing photo
Curriculum & Instruction Steering graphs to be taken of the staff, children,
Committee and families:
English Language Learners Preschool Chandler Tripp Head Start and Chandler
Coalition (ELLPC) Tripp Preschool for the Visually
Fight Crime, Invest in Kids California Impaired, Santa Clara County Office
First 5 Association of California of Education, San Jose
First 5 California Children & Families Child Development Center, American River
Commission College, Los Rios Community College
Infant Development Association of District, Sacramento
California (IDA) El Jardn de los Nios, University Prepara
Learning Disabilities Association of tion School, at California State Univer-
California sity, Channel Islands
Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) Friends of Saint Francis Childcare Center,
Mexican American Legal Defense and San Francisco
Education Fund (MALDEF) Hoopa Child Development Program, Hoopa
Migrant Education Even Start (MEES) Supporting Future Growth Child Develop-
Migrant Head Start ment Center, Oakland
National Council of La Raza (NCLR)
Packard Foundation Children, Families,
and Communities Program


to the Framework


oung children enter preschool with a sense of wonder and a love of
learning. They have an insatiable appetite for knowledge when they
have learning experiences that are engaging and enjoyable. Positive
experiences in which children can make choices and explore help them
feel competent and confident. How can we offer them engaging and enjoy-
able learning experiences that fuel their intellectual engines and build
their confidence? How can we connect childrens fascination with learning
in every domain and make the most of their time in preschool? With these
questions in mind, the California Department of Education (CDE) devel-
oped this curriculum framework for preschool programs, which include
any early childhood setting where three- to five-year-old children receive
education and care.

This curriculum framework provides terms reflects the need for precision of
an overall approach for teachersa to language and offers the reader the oppor-
support childrens learning through envi- tunity to connect practice to theory and
ronments and experiences that are: abstract ideas. To aid the reader, techni-
developmentally appropriate, cal words that are highlighted in boldface
reflective of thoughtful observation and are defined in the Glossary.
intentional planning, What children learn during the pre-
individually and culturally meaningful, school years is presented in the Califor
and nia Preschool Learning Foundations,
inclusive of children with disabilities or Volume 1.1 As preschool teachers plan
other special needs. learning environments and experiences,
the foundations provide the background
The framework presents ways of setting
information to:
up environments, encouraging and build-
ing upon childrens self-initiated play, understand childrens developing
selecting appropriate materials, and plan- knowledge and skills and
ning and implementing teacher-guided consider appropriate ways to support
learning activities. childrens learning and development.
As much as possible, the writers of this In essence, curriculum planning
document have used everyday language to should offer children learning opportuni-
describe curriculum concepts and strate- ties that are attuned to their developing
gies. However, technical terminology does abilities and connected with their experi-
appear in the text. The use of technical ences at home and in their communities.
In the National Association for the
In this document, a teacher is considered an adult Education of Young Childrens accredita-
with education and care responsibilities in an early tion criteria, it is stated that a curriculum
childhood setting. Teachers include adults who in-
includes the goals for the knowledge and
teract directly with young children in preschool pro-
grams and family child care home settings, as well
skills to be acquired by children and the
as those who provide special education services. plans for learning experiences through
In family child care, teachers may be referred to as which such knowledge and skills will
caregivers. be acquired.2 A preschool curriculum


typically defines a sequence of integrated is their early experiences with language.

experiences, interactions, and activities Language and literacy development con-
to help young children reach specific tributes to young childrens learning and
learning goals. A curriculum framework long-range success in many different
provides general guidance on planning ways. Children who enter preschool with
learning environments and experiences competence in a language other than
for young children. Thus, as a curriculum English rely on their home language as
framework, this document provides: they learn English. Building competence
principles for supporting young chil- in English, while continuing to build com-
drens learning; petence in their home language, allows
an overview of key components of cur- children to draw on all their knowledge
riculum planning for young children, and skills as they engage in learning in
including observation, documentation, every domain. In response to the need to
and reflection; support children with diverse early lan-
descriptions of routines, environments, guage and literacy experiences, the CDE
and materials that engage children in has developed Preschool English Learners:
learning; and Principles and Practices to Promote Lan
sample strategies for building on chil- guage, Literacy, and Learning3 (hereafter
drens knowledge, skills, and interests. referred to as the PEL Resource Guide)
and preschool English-language devel-
Four domains are the focus of Volume 1 opment foundations. This curriculum
of the CDEs preschool learning founda framework offers strategies aligned to
tions: social-emotional development, those foundations and the content of the
language and literacy, English-language PEL Resource Guide.
development, and mathematics. Socioeconomic diversity is another
trend that merits attention. The percen
tage of children living in low-income
Californias Preschool homes is high; almost 20 percent live
Children below the poverty level.4 At the same time,
the benefits of appropriate or high-quality

A fundamental consideration in
planning curriculum for individual
children is being responsive to the com-
petencies, experiences, interests, and
needs each child brings to the preschool
classroom. The states preschool popula-
tion includes children who are culturally
diverse, speak a language other than Eng-
lish, possess different abilities, and come
from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.
When teachers and other program staff
partner with families, they make cur-
riculum individually and culturally
An increasingly prominent factor
in the diversity of Californias children


preschool are more pronounced for chil- Latino, 29.4 percent were white, 8.1 per-
dren from low-income backgrounds than cent were Asian, 7.6 percent were African
for other population subgroups. Children American, and 2.6 percent were Filipino.6
from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds Similarly, among the 2.7 million children
are more likely to benefit from preschool from birth to age five living in California
when the curriculum is attuned to their during 2006-07, 50 percent were Latino,
learning strengths and needs. 24 percent were white, 8 percent were
Children with disabilities or other spe- Asian American, and 5 percent were Afri-
cial needs are another part of Californias can American.7 This trend is anticipated
preschool population. Children with dis- to continue over the next several decades.
abilities or other special needs benefit
from learning in inclusive environments English learners
with typically developing children. Stud- In the 2008 California Report Card,
ies have shown that children in inclusive Children Now estimates that 42 percent
environments, with appropriate sup- of five-year-old children in California are
port and assistance, achieve more than English learners, a 3 percent increase
children in segregated environments.5 from the previous year.8 Children Now
Inclusive environments benefit not only also reports:
children with disabilities or other special The majority of Californias children
needs, but also typically developing chil- living in immigrant households, between
dren. the ages of 5-17, speak a language other
As the following information suggests, than English at home. Nearly 30 percent
the diversity of young children means of these children live in linguistically
that every preschool program needs a isolated homes where the adults living in
flexible approach to curriculum in order the home do not speak English well.9
to be responsive to all children who enter In an earlier report, Children Now
its doors. and Preschool California indicated that
. . . young children living in linguisti-
cally isolated homes are less likely to be
Compared with most other states, enrolled in preschool programs.10
California has an extraordinarily diverse The broad range of languages spoken
population of children, particularly those by children in the state is clearly a sig-
under the age of five. Of the over six mil- nificant factor in developing curriculum
lion children enrolled in Californias K12 for preschool children who are English
schools in 2006-07, 48.1 percent were learners. During the 2006-07 school year,
85.3 percent of California children in kin-
dergarten through twelfth grade who were
English learners spoke Spanish, followed
by Vietnamese (2.2 percent), Filipino (1.4
percent), Cantonese (1.4 percent), Hmong
(1.3 percent), and Korean (1.1 percent).11
Many families may come from similar
geographic regions outside the United
States but may not necessarily speak
the same language.12 Preschool offers an
important opportunity for children whose


families speak a different language at individualized education programs (IEPs)

home to learn English while continuing that reflect the CDEs preschool learn-
to learn their home language. Compe- ing foundations. Under the Individuals
tence in two languages will allow children with Disabilities Education Act (2004),
to become adults who can contribute to all children must have access to the gen-
both the global economy and their local eral curriculum and have their progress
communities. Preschool programs can measured accordingly.17 In California,
best support young children by planning the CDEs preschool learning foundations
curriculum that fosters English-language serve as a guide for curriculum planning.
development and keeps the children con- Together, the foundations and curricu-
nected to the language of their families. lum framework offer a comprehensive
approach to planning access to inclusive
Socioeconomic status learning opportunities for all children.
Approximately 20 percent of children
in California under the age of five live in
families whose income is below the pov- Overarching Principles
erty level.13 Compared with other states,

California ranks 20th in the nation in ight principles have guided the
the number of children under age eigh- development of this curriculum
teen living in poverty.14 According to the framework. Grounded in early childhood
National Center for Children in Poverty, research and practice, the following eight
younger children (birth to six years) are principles emphasize offering young chil-
more likely to live in a low-income house- dren individually, culturally, and linguis-
hold.15 Young children of immigrant par- tically responsive learning experiences
ents are 20 percent more likely to live in and environments:
a low-income family compared with chil-
Relationships are central.
dren with native-born English-speaking
Play is a primary context for learning.
parents. Young African American, Latino,
Learning is integrated.
and Native American children in Cali-
Intentional teaching enhances chil-
fornia are also more likely to live in very
drens learning experiences.
low-income families compared with white
Family and community partnerships
create meaningful connections.
Children with disabilities Individualization of learning includes
all children.
or other special needs
Responsiveness to culture and lan-
There are approximately 45,000 chil- guage supports childrens learning.
dren with identified disabilities in the Time for reflection and planning
CDE preschool system. This number enhances teaching.
does not include children at risk of a
The rationales for these principles
disability or developmental challenges.
Children with disabilities represent the
diversity of Californias entire preschool Relationships are central
population and necessitate unique edu-
cational considerations in the preschool Relationships with others are at the
setting. Three-, four-, and five-year-old center of young childrens lives. Caring
children with identified disabilities have relationships with close family members


provide the base for young children to

engage with others, to explore with con-
fidence, to seek support when needed,
and to view interactions with others as
likely to be positive and interesting. Rec-
ognizing the power of early relationships,
preschool teachers and programs build
strong relationships with children and
families. Just as important, preschool
teachers nurture the social-emotional
development of young children through
those relationships. Research shows that
healthy social-emotional development be engaged to learn. As Zigler observes,
helps young children learn, for example, children bring more than their brains
to sustain attention more easily, to make to school.19 When childrens hearts and
and maintain friendships, and to com- minds are engaged, adults can help them
municate needs and ideas. Under the learn almost anything they are ready to
guiding eye of teachers in close partner- learn. In a program where play is valued,
ship with families, young children build childrens interests, engagement, creativ-
their ability to engage in relationships ity, and self-expression are supported
with adults and other children. Preschool through a balance of child-initiated and
offers children a variety of opportuni- teacher-guided activities. The environ-
ties for social interactions (with familiar ment reflects an appreciation for the
adults, peers), group participation, and value of pretend play, imaginary play,
for cooperation and responsibility. A and dramatic play. Play not only provides
climate of caring and respect that pro- the context for thinking, building knowl-
motes nurturing relationships between edge, being attentive, solving problems,
children and within the community of and increasing social skills, it also helps
families supports childrens learning in children to integrate their emotional
all domains. experiences and internalize guidance
from their teachers. For some children,
Play is a primary context it may be necessary to make special
for learning adaptations to create access to learning
Play is at the heart of young childrens through self-initiated activities and play.
explorations and their engagement in
learning experiences.18 During play, chil- Learning is integrated
dren maximize their attention span as Learning engages young children in
they focus on self-selected activities that every possible way. Young children con-
they regulate themselves. When children tinually use all their senses and compe-
make their own choices, engage other tencies to relate new experiences to prior
children in interaction, and spend time experiences and try to understand things
amusing themselves on their own, they and create meaning. Their learning is
learn much about themselves, their own integrated while often having a specific
capabilities, and the world around them. focus. For example, during book reading,
At the preschool level, play and learn- children use their knowledge and think-
ing should be seamless. Children need to ing abilities, emotional responses, under-


standing of language, and the full range of ing destinations identified by Californias
experiences at home and in the commu- preschool learning foundations. The
nity to make new connections and under- intentional teacher is flexible in order to
stand. Children come to preschool as accommodate differences in childrens
experts about many thingsamong them, learning strengths and needs. Intentional
their families, their home language(s), teaching strategies span from planning
and their belongings. When learning learning environments, experiences, and
builds on what children know and allows routines to spontaneous responses sug-
them to expand their skills playfully, they gested by the moment-to-moment focus
are happy to participate in any learn- of the children.
ing experience or activity, to recite any
rhyme, and to count any set. That is why Family and community
offering children experiences that are partnerships create meaningful
personally meaningful and connected is connections
so important. In addition, since children Strong connections with families grow
learn using all of their sensory modali- from respecting and valuing diverse
ties in an integrated way, it is essential views, expectations, goals, and under-
to strengthen the modalities with which standings families have for their children.
individual children need special help and Programs demonstrate respect for fami-
build upon their areas of strength. Inte- lies by partnering with them to exchange
grated learning is further described in the information about their childrens learn-
section titled Curriculum Planning. ing and development and to share ideas
about how to support learning at home
Intentional teaching enhances
and at school. Partnerships with families
childrens learning experiences extend to the community where the fami-
Effective curriculum planning occurs lies live, come together, and support one
when teachers are mindful of childrens another. Building connections to the sur-
learning and are intentional or purpose- rounding community allows a program to
ful in their efforts to support it. In the become known and make use of commu-
National Association for the Education nity resources. Getting to know the com-
of Young Children (NAEYC) publication munity also gives teachers insights into
titled The Intentional Teacher, Ann Epstein the learning experiences and competen-
offers the following description:20 cies that children bring to the preschool
. . . the intentional teacher . . . acts with setting and informs efforts to make pre-
knowledge and purpose to ensure that school meaningful and connected for
young children acquire the knowledge children.
and skills (content) they need to succeed
in school and in life. Intentional teachers Individualization of learning
use their knowledge, judgment, and includes all children
expertise to organize learning experiences
Each child is unique. Preschool teach-
for children; when an unexpected
situation arises . . . they can recognize a
ers use their understanding of each
teaching opportunity and are able to take childs blend of temperament, family
advantage of it, too. and cultural experiences, language expe-
riences, personal strengths, interests,
With an understanding of early learn-
abilities, and dispositions to support
ing and development, the teacher works
the childs learning and development.
to help young children reach the learn-


Through recognizing and adapting to attempt, as much as possible, to learn

each childs individual development, about the history, beliefs, and practices of
teachers are able to offer learning experi- the children & families they serve. . . .23
ences that are meaningful, connected, In addition to being responsive to the
and developmentally attuned to each cultural history, beliefs, values, ways of
child. Creating a classroom environment communicating, and practices of children
in which all children feel welcome is and families, teachers create learning
important. When children with disabili- environments that include resources such
ties or other special needs are included, as pictures, displays, and books that are
the partnership with families is especially culturally rich and supportive of a diverse
important. The family is the primary population, particularly the cultures and
bridge between the preschool staff and languages of the children and families in
special services the child may be receiv- their preschool setting.24, 25 Community
ing. The family, teacher, and other pro- members add to the cultural richness of
gram staff can team together and include a preschool setting by sharing their art,
other specialists in the preschool setting. music, dance, traditions, and stories.
Adapting to an individual child may mean
modifying the learning environment to
Time for reflection and planning
. . . increase a childs access, potential enhances teaching
and availability for learning through Preschool teachers are professionals
thoughtful organization of materials and who serve an important role in society.
space.21 Specifically designed profes- In nurturing the development of young
sional support and development opportu- children, teachers engage in an ongoing
nities, as well as specialized instructional process of observation, documentation
strategies, can help teachers deliver indi- and assessment, reflection and planning,
vidualized education and care to meet the and implementation of strategies in order
needs of all the children in a program. to provide individualized learning experi-
ences. As increasing numbers of children
Responsiveness to culture with diverse backgrounds, including
and language supports disabilities, participate in preschool pro-
childrens learning grams, it becomes essential to have col-
Responsive preschool programs create laboration, teaming, and communication
a climate of respect for each childs to extend the benefits of preschool to all
culture and language when teachers children. Curriculum planning requires
and other program staff partner and time for teachers to reflect on childrens
regularly communicate with family learning and plan strategies that foster
members. They work to get to know the childrens progress in building knowledge
cultural strengths each child brings to and mastering skills. Preschool programs
preschool. An essential part of being that support intentional teaching allo-
culturally and linguistically responsive is cate time in teachers schedules to allow
to value and support each childs use of them to reflect and plan both individually
home language, for continued use and and as a team. With appropriate support,
development of the childs home language teachers are able to grow professionally
will benefit the child as he or she through a continuous process of learning
acquires English.22 Equally important together and exploring ways to be respon-
are nurturing interactions with children sive to young childrens learning interests
and their families in which . . . teachers and needs.


ing It All Together vignette, Engaging

Organization of the Families to support homeschool con-
nections, and Questions for Reflection
Framework to encourage teacher reflection.
Each strand is further divided into

T his preschool curriculum framework

builds on the California Preschool
Learning Foundations, Volume 1, which
substrands. Each substrand section
A brief overview of the substrand;
describes the knowledge and skills that
Sample interactions and strategies
preschool children typically demonstrate
(e.g., conversations, activities, experi-
with appropriate support in the following
ences, routines) for helping children
four domains:
make progress in the specific area of
Social-emotional development learning identified by the substrand;
Language and literacy and
English-language development Vignettes that illustrate the strate-
Mathematics gies in action. (It is important to note
In this introduction, curriculum plan- that the interactions illustrated by
ning for these domains is presented in the vignettes might take place in any
an integrated manner (see pages 14 and language; individual children would
15). Within this integrated approach to appropriately engage in such commu-
planning learning activities and environ- nication using their home language.)
ments, each specific domain is the focus The sample strategies that are pre-
of a chapter. Each chapter provides a sented range from spontaneous to
look at integrated curriculum through the planned. Some sample strategies focus on
lens of the particular domain addressed how teachers build on childrens interests
by that chapter. For example, Chapter 6, during interaction and instruction. Some
Mathematics, highlights how vocabulary rely on planning and teacher initiation,
development relates to childrens math and some reflect a combination of teacher
learning. Information on strategies to planning and spontaneous responses to
support childrens learning may appear in childrens learning. Taken together, they
more than one domain chapter because offer a range of ways in which early child-
the same strategy or similar strategies hood professionals can support childrens
apply to multiple areas of growth and learning and development. The sample
development. In essence, this curriculum strategies are intended to include a broad
framework is designed to allow the reader range of teaching approaches as well as
to examine the breadth and depth of to reflect a variety of ways to address
each domain in the context of integrated the individual needs of a diverse group
learning. of children. However, the sample strate-
The domain chapters begin with an gies are neither exhaustive nor meant
overview of principles and strategies for to be used as recipes to follow. Rather,
supporting preschool childrens learning. they are starting points, or springboards,
Each domain is divided into strands that for teachers as they plan and implement
define the scope of the domain. In each their own strategies.
chapter, the strands are introduced, along It is noteworthy that some strategies
with information about environments and for one domain can just as easily be used
materials that promote learning, a Bring- to support learning in another domain.


The fact that many strategies overlap and listens for the teachable moments
across domains reflects the integrated made possible by the plan.
nature of young childrens learning.
For example, the language and literacy
chapter recommends on page 103 the English-Language
general strategy of providing opportunities
in the daily schedule for adultchild and
Development and
childchild interactions. Of course, adult Learning in All Domains
child and childchild interactions foster

social-emotional learning and English- he English-language development
language development as well as learning foundations and recommended
in all other domains addressed by the curriculum strategies address the need
preschool learning foundations. Specific to give additional focused support to
strategies in this section include Create preschool children whose home language
a block area and Create an art area. is not English. As Chapter 5 states:
Creating a block area may sound more Children who are learning English as a
like a strategy for the mathematics second language form a substantial and
domain, and an art area may sound more growing segment of the preschool popu-
like one for the visual and performing lation served by California state child
arts domain. However, a preschool development programs. The English-
environment with those areas will surely language development foundations are
promote learning in all domains. distinct from the foundations in other
Each domain chapter includes Teach- domains because they describe the pro-
able Moments to address the balance cess of learning important language and
between planning for childrens learning literacy concepts as preschool children
and being spontaneous and responsive acquire a second language (as dual-lan-
when a child or a small group of children guage learners). Childrens progress with
may be absorbed with solving a problem learning English varies greatly from child
or excited about a new idea or may show to child. Some children enter preschool
emerging understanding of a concept. with practically no prior experience with
Planning creates the context for teach- English. Other children have some expe-
able moments. In various places, this rience with English but still do not pos-
framework offers information on Plan- sess the basic competency necessary to
ning Learning Opportunities. Intentional demonstrate knowledge and skills out-
teaching includes planning interactions, lined in other domains when the curricu-
activities, environments, and adaptations. lum is provided mainly in English. And
Teachers plan such learning opportu- there are other children who are learning
nities based on their observations and English as a second language who may
assessments of children and what they be fairly advanced in their understanding
learn from the childrens families. When and use of English.
teachers plan learning opportunities, Given the great variation among chil-
they have in mind how the children might dren who are learning English as a sec-
respond. But the plan needs to be flexible ond language in preschool, their knowl-
to allow the teacher to be responsive to edge and skills in the English-language
how the children actually engage in learn- development domain are described at
ing. The teacher observes the children the beginning, middle, and later levels.


In other words, the English-language skills in their home language before

development foundations reflect a con- they demonstrate the same knowledge
tinuum of second-language (English) and skills in English.
learning regardless of an individual 3. Children who are learning English as a
childs age. This continuum shows that second language may need additional
children who are learning English while support and time to make progress in
they are also developing their home lan- all areas that require English knowl-
guage abilities use their knowledge and edge and skills; therefore, the Eng-
skills in their first language to continue lish-language development curriculum
to make progress in all other domains. framework presents strategies to sup-
Children who are English learners also port English learners in particular
vary greatly in the level of proficiency in ways so that teachers can both scaf-
their first language, which, in turn, influ- fold childrens learning experiences
ences their progress in English-language and utilize multiple modes of commu-
development. nication (e.g., nonverbal cues).
In an integrated curriculum, the key to 4. The English-language development
supporting all children is to plan learn- foundations and curriculum recom-
ing activities and environments based on mendations focus mainly on language
an ongoing understanding of each childs and literacy learning, because it is,
interests, needs, and family and cultural by nature, language-specific; it is also
experiences. For young children who are recognized that English learners will
learning English, this approach means demonstrate competence in other
focused attention to each individual domains in their home language.
childs experiences in acquiring a second 5. An intentional focus on the process of
language and an understanding of how to learning English as a second language
use a childs first language to help them is necessary at all times in an inte-
understand a second language. In apply- grated approach to curriculum in early
ing an integrated approach, teachers take care and education settings.
advantage of every moment to provide The level of additional support and
children with opportunities to communi- time English learners need to demon-
cate with greater understanding and skill strate the knowledge and skills described
while engaged in play or in adult-guided by the foundations in domains such as
learning activities. social-emotional development, language
The curriculum framework for and literacy, and mathematics will be
English-language development is based influenced by the childrens develop-
on a number of key considerations for ment in both their first language and
supporting children learning English in English. The language the child uses for
preschool settings. Chief among these communication at home as well as the
considerations are: amount of rich experience the child has
1. Children who are learning English as a in the home language will likely affect
second language possess a home lan- the amount and type of support the child
guage upon which effective teaching needs. For example, if a childs home lan-
strategies can be based. guage does not use the alphabet for writ-
2. Children who are learning English as ing, that child may need different sup-
a second language may demonstrate port than a child whose home language
language and literacy knowledge and uses the alphabet. Regardless of home


language, individual children may make and literacy, but across the entire cur-
progress with some foundations earlier riculum. All children, particularly chil-
than with other foundations. For exam- dren at the beginning and middle levels of
ple, children may need additional time English language acquisition, may show
to make progress in the language and knowledge and skills in other domains,
literacy foundations, which are specific such as mathematics, using their home
to English, such as language conven- language. The preschool Desired Results
tions, vocabulary, and grammar. Developmental Profile (DRDP) recognizes
The California Department of Edu this possibility by considering childrens
cations DVD titled A World Full of demonstrations of knowledge and skills
Language: Supporting Preschool English in their home language as evidence of
Learners highlights the importance of developmental progress.b
a climate of acceptance and belonging Because first- and second-language
as the starting point for giving children development varies among English
who are learning English as a second learners, the English-language develop-
language additional support. In effective ment foundations and the language and
programs, intentional efforts: literacy foundations are to be used in
tandem with the curriculum framework.
focus on the childrens sense of belong-
It is recommended that, when plan-
ing and need to communicate;
ning curriculum for all areas of learning,
allow children to participate volun-
teachers begin by reading and consider-
tarily; and
ing the English-language development
create opportunities for interaction
foundations and the curriculum frame-
and play with peers.
work guidance as they gauge each childs
Children need to feel comfortable current comprehension and use of Eng-
with everyone in the preschool setting lish. Teachers then develop a plan for
and with use of their home language to how to integrate and use the suggested
express themselves nonverbally while activities or strategies to support areas of
learning and trying to use English. learning that take into consideration the
As Chapter 5 states: Language is a
tool of communication used in all devel- b
It is important to use the appropriate Desired
opmental domains. Children who are Results instrument. For children who are typically
English learners need to be supported developing, the Desired Results Developmental
not only in activities focused on language Profile (DRDP) is the appropriate instrument.
( For children with
disabilities receiving preschool special education
services, the appropriate instrument
is determined by the Individualized Education
Program (IEP) team, which includes the family
and the childs preschool teacher. All three-, four-,
and five-year-old children with an IEP who receive
preschool services, regardless of instructional
setting, must be assessed using either the Desired
Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) or the Desired
Results Developmental Profile access (DRDP
access). The DRDP access is an alternative version
of the DRDP with measures that have an expanded
range for assessing preschool-age children with
disabilities (


diversity of English learners. Intentional alternative or augmented communication

teaching requires an ongoing awareness system. Multiple means of engagement
of the home-language development of refers to providing choices in the set-
each child as described in the English- ting or program that facilitate learning
language development foundations as by building on childrens interests. The
well as the English learners ability to information in this curriculum framework
use English in activities suggested in the has been worded to incorporate multiple
other chapters. means of representation, expression, and
Although this curriculum framework
Universal Design presents some ways of adapting or modi-
for Learning fying an activity or approach, it cannot
offer all possible variations to ensure that
a curriculum meets the needs of a par-

T he guidance in this preschool cur-

riculum framework applies to all
young children in California, including
ticular child. Of course, the first and best
source of information about any child is
the family. Additionally, there are several
children with disabilities or other special resources available to support inclusive
needs. In some cases, preschool children practice for young children with disabili-
with disabilities or other special needs ties or other special needs. The resources,
demonstrate their developmental progress Web sites, and books listed in Appendix D
in diverse ways. Recognizing that children are recommended for teachers use.
follow different pathways to learning, this
framework incorporates a concept known
as universal design for learning. Curriculum Planning
Universal design provides for multiple
means of representation, multiple means
of engagement, and multiple means of Curriculum planning to support
expression.24 Multiple means of represen children as active meaning
tation refers to providing information in makers
a variety of ways so the learning needs
of all children are met. For example, it
is important to speak clearly to children
P reschool children possess an amaz-
ing capacity to organize vast amounts
of information. When we watch a pre-
with auditory disabilities while also pre-
schooler alone in play, in play with
senting information visually such as with
friends, or engaged in a conversation,
objects and pictures. Multiple means of
we see an active mind making meaning.
expression refers to allowing children to
Preschool children experience the
use alternative ways to communicate or
world and build knowledge in an inte-
demonstrate what they know or what
grated manner, during simple moments
they are feeling. For example, when a
of play and interaction with objects and
teacher seeks a verbal response, a child
with other people. They constantly gather
may respond in any language, including
information and strive to make sense of
American Sign Language. A child with
it. Their minds take in words, numbers,
special needs who cannot speak may
feelings, and the actions and reactions of
also respond by pointing, by gazing, by
people, creatures, and objects and inte-
gesturing, by using a picture system of
grate new information into an increas-
communication, or by any other form of


ingly complex system of knowledge.

Effective curriculum for young children
engages their active minds and nurtures
their enthusiastic search for meaning
and understanding.

Integrated curriculum
The principle that preschool children
actively make meaning in an integrated
way offers an important starting point
for preschool curriculum. Of most value
to young children engaged in inquiry are
experiences that support their inclina- After observing the childrens interest
tion to explore math, language, literacy, in snails outside, the teachers brought
art, and science within meaningful in snails for the children to examine on
moments of play and interaction. In guid- trays in the science area. Many chil
ing childrens integrated approach to dren went over to see them. Some sim
learning, teachers may use a variety of ply watched, while others held a snail.
strategies (e.g., interactions, scaffolding, Whether watching or holding a snail,
explicit instruction, modeling, demon- each child bubbled with curiosity.
stration, changes in the environment
Observing the childrens curiosity, the
and materials, and adaptations, which
teachers decided that the snails might
are especially important for children with
serve as a common interest for chil
disabilities).25 By adapting the physical
dren to explore over time, with many
environment, materials, and the cur-
possibilities for learning language,
riculum, teachers gain a better sense
math, science, social skills, art, and
of individual childrens strengths and
literacy. Exploring snails offered poten
abilities and how best to support their
tial for tapping into many of the chil
play and engagement in making mean-
drens emerging skills and concepts
ing. For example, for a child who relies
with increasing complexity over time.
on a wheelchair for mobility, pathways
The teachers thought of the snails as
in the classroom are arranged to allow
a ready science investigation. The chil
the childs passage to all interest areas,
dren would come to know one of the
and tables and shelving are set up to
creatures that live in their play yard.
allow the child to see, reach, explore, and
The teachers also envisioned possi
manipulate the learning materials and
bilities for childrens social learning
thereby make meaning.
while exploring the snails. Most of the
Integrated curriculum often has a spe-
three-year-olds were new to the pro
cific focus yet engages children in mul-
gram and were adjusting to the many
tiple ways. The following vignette from a
new and different faces, languages,
class of mostly three-year-old children
and expectations for behavior. The
illustrates how the childrens interests,
teachers thought that exploring snails
exploration, and meaning making unfold
would offer experiences supportive of
when their teachers introduce a new
childrens progress in various develop
learning opportunity.
mental areas. There would be possibil


ities for discussing how to treat living Teachers use interest areas to extend
creatures in respectful ways, conver childrens active search for knowledge.
sations with the children about how to Interest areas are designed to offer a
care for snails, and being gentle with basic inventory of materials with which
creatures and also with each other. children can apply emerging skills and
Caring for the snails might spark much develop concepts while they play.
discussion in small groups, a per As teachers plan curriculum, they con-
fect context for children to build new sider ways to augment or add new inter-
vocabulary and language skills, notice ests to the basic inventory of materials in
cause-and-effect connections, solve an area. Such curriculum plans, which
problems, engage in counting and com are focused on the play environment,
paring, draw shapes, and use print to extend or add complexity to the childrens
capture ideas. The teachers also won play. For children with disabilities, teach-
dered about how children might weave ers can consider what adaptations should
pretend play and stories into their be made to provide greater access. For all
exploration of snails. Later the teach children to take full advantage of inter-
ers reviewed their notes to determine est areas that a well-planned curricu-
if the childrens observed progress in lum provides, they need long blocks of
these areas could be measured by uninterrupted time for self-initiated play.
the DRDPcooperative relationships, Interest areas in a preschool environment
sharing, developing friendships, con include the following examples:
flict negotiation, awareness of diver Dramatic play area
sity, empathy, and self-regulation. Block area
Art area
Book area
The environment: Interest areas
Writing area
to support childrens play and
Math area
child-initiated learning Science area
Preschool curriculum includes ways Family display area
in which teachers plan the indoor and The example of the snail exploration
outdoor physical environments to support shows how the teachers made use of the
childrens play and learning. Intentionally different interest areas in their class-
designed play spaces for children are like room.
a studio for an artist or a laboratory for a
scientist. When the physical environment
After observing and reflecting on the
is planned with childrens self-initiated
childrens engagement on encounter
learning in mind, children encounter
ing the snails, the teachers began to
places where they can freely explore
add snails to several of the interest
what things are like and how things
areas in the environment. There were
work. In such an environment, children
possibilities for children to explore
investigate, invent, and experiment. To
both real snails and pretend snails
support childrens self-initiated play
in play.
and integrated learning, teachers create
environments with a network of interest In the science area, one of the teachers
areas. Each area has a distinct focus arranged four trays on the table. On
and a predictable inventory of materials. each tray, the teacher placed snails,


cut grass, leaves, a small jar lid filled own choices, children gravitate to differ-
with water, and an eyedropper. As ent areas of the indoor and outdoor envi-
the children played, many of them ronments and explore materials and ideas
came to explore the snails, some just playfully and creatively. They choose to
looking and listening to comments, cluster in small groups to play together,
others touching and holding the snails. for example, in the block area or in the
Arranging the snails and the materials dramatic play area. Teachers use this
to make snail habitats was the time to observe and note ways to build on
childrens primary interest. Teachers childrens ideas and further engage the
were close by to keep the snails safe children in learning.
but did not direct the childrens play.
That morning, teachers had also Teacher-guided activities
added several books on snails (in Planning curriculum for preschool chil-
English, Spanish, and Russian, the dren also means planning activities that
home languages of children in the teachers, rather than children, initiate
group) as well as a snail puppet in and guide. Some teacher-guided activities
the book/story interest area; a few are best done in small groups of four to
laminated photos of snails in the art eight children, in quiet spaces away from
area; and a basket with small plastic distractions of the entire group; others
snails in the math manipulatives area. take place in a large group and include all
children in the class.
This part of the vignette illustrates how
an interest the children first encoun- Teacher-guided activities
tered outside was integrated into various in small groups
interest areas in the indoor environment. Small groups provide a manageable
Just as the outdoor environment can be context for children to discuss and
brought indoors, so can the indoor envi- explore ideas and experiences. The
ronment be brought outdoors. Indeed, the teacher acts as a guide, listener, and
outdoors offers extended opportunities for problem-poser. In small groups away
childrens play and exploration. Planning from the distractions of a large group,
the outdoor environment should include teachers can easily observe, listen, and
materials and possibilities available in the converse with children. Teachers can
interest areas indoors. focus on how the children think, express
ideas, and use their emerging skills.
Teachers conversations with children
The Daily Schedule can enrich learning in all domains, par-
ticularly the childrens language learn-
ing and vocabulary development. In
A well-rounded program has a variety
of activities indoors and outdoors in
small groups and large groups, super-
addition, in order to intentionally guide
the development of certain skills, teach-
ers can plan small-group activities (e.g.,
vised by teachers.
songs, games, shared reading) that play-
Child-initiated play fully engage children for short periods of
time. In programs with English-language
Children should have ample time dur-
learners, small groups can be a time to
ing the preschool day to initiate learning
foster learning among children. The PEL
through play. When free to make their


rarium into a habitat for snails, with

dirt, plants, and enough space for
other small creatures. That morning,
the parent of a child whose home
language was Russian had helped
a teacher write out in Russian the
words snail, eyes, and shell on each
of three folded index cards, with the
corresponding words in English on
the opposite side of each card. These
cards were placed next to the snail
Resource Guide provides several sugges- habitat in the science area. A parallel
tions for promoting peer learning.26 Small set of Spanish and English cards were
groups offer excellent times for monitor- also next to the habitat.
ing a childs developmental progress, for
During one small-group discussion,
meeting his or her needs, and for provid-
the teacher introduced an illustration
ing scaffolds that help a child engage
of a snail labeled with the words eye,
in new and more complex thinking. The
tentacle, and shell. Pepe, whose home
chance for teachers to observe, listen,
language was Spanish and who was
and document childrens developmental
not yet speaking English, had spent
progress is an important advantage that
much time playing with the snail
small groups have over large groups. The
habitats in the science area the past
snail exploration example illustrates how
week. With a look of excitement, Pepe
the teachers included documentation in a
walked to the illustration of the snail,
small-group activity.
caught the teachers eyes, and then
pointed to his own eyes. The teacher
During one of their discussions about responded, Eyes! Yes, those are the
their observations of the childrens snails eyes, Pepe. How do you say
interest in the snails, the teachers eyes in Spanish? The teacher waited
reviewed the measures on the DRDP for Pepe to respond and then com
that might relate to the childrens mented, Youre making the tentacles,
small-group experiences with snails. too, I see!
They decided to do focused explora
tion of snails, with small groups of
four to six children. In a small group, Teacher-guided activities
children would have an easier time in large groups
building relationships with each other Large groups work well for singing,
and with the teacher, a learning goal playing games, engaging in discussions,
for the whole class. With each small sharing stories, building a sense of com-
group, the teacher helped the children munity, and organizing the whole groups
create a snail habitat in the science schedule and activities. When children
interest area. The children could gather as a whole class, they can share
return to the interest area throughout experiences with one another and engage
the day for exploration. The teacher in large-group activities such as sing-
and small group worked together ing and acting out a song or listening to
over days to transform a glass ter a story. Storytelling allows teachers, as


well as storytellers from the community, Daily routines as curriculum

to connect with childrens knowledge
Curriculum plans include ideas for
and experiences in meaningful ways.
involving children in daily routines and
Teachers can also use large-group time
making routines an important context for
to share what new experiences will be
learning, in general, and for social-emo-
available in the interest areas or what
tional development, in particular. Daily
will happen in small groups. Large-group
routines provide natural opportunities for
gatherings at the end of class time pro-
children to apply emerging skills, take on
vide opportunities to review noteworthy
responsibilities, and cooperate. Teachers
happenings that day and to anticipate
integrate engaging learning opportuni-
what will be available the next day. While
ties into the everyday routines of arriv-
doing the snail exploration, the teachers
als, departures, mealtimes, naptimes,
used the large-group context to support
hand washing, setup, and clean-up, both
the childrens learning in several ways.
indoors and outdoors. Children enthu-
For example:
siastically apply emerging skills to daily
routines: when they are helpers who ring
To generate interest in snails, the
the bell for coming inside; when they
teachers announced to the children
count how many are ready for lunch;
during large-group circle time that
when they move a card with their photo
the snail trays would be available for
and name from the home column to the
exploration. The teachers also used
preschool column of a chart near the
the large-group circle to read books
room entry; when they put their name
and tell stories about snails. One
on a waiting list to paint at the easel; or
teacher invented a simple clapping
when they help set the table for a meal,
chant to play with the /s/ sound in
making sure that each place has a plate,
the new and now popular words
utensils, and a cup. Such routines offer
snails and slugsslippery snails and
opportunities for children to build lan-
slugs slowly slithering make slimy
guage skills, to learn the rituals of shar-
stripes. She knew how much the
ing time with others, and to relate one
children enjoyed chants, songs, and
action in a sequence to another. Over the
finger plays. She also knew the value
course of the snail exploration, the teach-
in helping children to hear and make
ers planned ways to extend childrens
distinct sounds of oral language.
learning within the daily routine.
In the large group, the teachers
pointed out that a new kind of helper
With snail helpers added to the
had been added to the helper chart.
helper chart, teachers involved chil
Now, two of the children would be
dren in setting up the snail trays in the
snail helpers. From then on, each
science interest area. The designated
day during large-group time, children
snail helpers counted out four trays as
checked to see whose name cards had
well as the specific number of snails
been placed next to the snail photo on
for each tray. Children learned how
the helper chart. In the large group,
to check and replace the frozen water
children reported on some of the things
bottle. The surface provided snails
they had been doing in their small-
with moisture and water from conden
group explorations of snails.
sation. The children also counted out


paper towels to use for cleaning the of childrens developmental progress

glass walls of the habitat. in different areas. In addition to the
many counting opportunities in the
environment, the teachers decided to
The Curriculum-Planning integrate counting into the childrens
exploration of snails. Younger children
Process who were making progress with learn
ing to count objects between five and

P lanning preschool curriculum begins

with teachers discovering, through
careful listening and observation, each
ten were invited to set up a specific
number (less than ten) of trays and
childs development. Observation is an Before the children started, the teach
essential skill for a teacher. When teach- ers reminded them of an earlier
ers mindfully observe, they discover how conversation about how to care for
individual children make meaning in snails. In response, one of the chil
everyday moments of play and interac- dren asked to show the others how
tions and how to deepen their relation- to handle the snails gently. (Learning
ships with children.27 Observing for the about counting was happening at the
purpose of assessing individual childrens same time as learning about control
learning means carefully watching and ling the impulse to handle other crea
listening, with thought and reflection. In tures roughly instead of being gentle
doing so, teachers find evidence of indi- with them.) Teachers suggested to
vidual childrens meaning making. It may other children who were continuing
be evidence that pertains to individual to make progress with counting to
childrens emotional, social, cognitive, count out a quantity of sticks, bark,
or physical development. If the evidence or leaves greater than ten. Other chil
is clear and significant, teachers hold it dren were asked to divide the snails
in memory with, for example, a note, a evenly between the trays. The chil
photo, or a sample of a childs work. The dren kept saying to themselves, Be
evidence will often relate to the descrip- gentle, and handled the snails with
tive levels of the DRDP, which provide a great care.
full range of measures of childrens devel-
opmental progress. Teachers working on As teachers observed each group,
the snail exploration found various ways they helped children develop math
in which the childrens engagement in ematical thinking by prompting them
learning about snails related to the devel- and asking questions. For example, at
opmental profiles of different children. one table, a teacher noticed that chil
For example: dren were counting some sticks twice.
She said, I wonder what would hap
As the childrens interest in the snails pen if we put each stick on the other
continued, the teachers looked for side of the tray after counting it. The
ways to expand learning opportunities children tried out this idea. Teachers
and integrate them into the noted childrens efforts and placed
multifaceted experience. The teachers the notes, with the date recorded, into
also reviewed individual childrens the childrens individual portfolios to
developmental profiles to be mindful be used as evidence for later refer


ence when considering developmental learning discovers small scientists at

progress on the DRDP measures of workexperimenting, comparing, mak-
number sense and impulse control. ing assumptions, evaluating assumptions
through their actions, and, over time,
As teachers observe childrens play building mastery of a wide range of con-
and interactions, they discover ways to cepts and skills. The vignette about the
support childrens learning. Ideas for snail exploration illustrates the role of the
the next steps in curriculum planning teacher as observer.
emerge as teachers reflect on how they
might extend or expand childrens think- During small-group time with the
ing, language, and interactions. Observa- snails, the teacher noticed a child who
tion, reflection, and documentation in the had been reluctant to hold a snail.
moment simultaneously launch an ongo- This child had a visual impairment.
ing assessment of each childs progress As the teacher gently placed a snail
in learning as well as the curriculum- on this childs hand, two children
planning cycle. watched and listened as the teacher
commented, Hes sticking his head
Observe, reflect, record
out now, and hes turned toward your
Observation means being present with fingers. Can you feel him crawling
children and attentive as they play and toward your fingers? The other chil
interact with others and the environment. dren who had been watching intently
This mindful kind of presence is differ- began to repeat the teachers encour
ent from participating in childrens play aging words, saying, Hes sticking
or directing their play. Whether for one his head out. Hes going toward your
minute or five, an attentive, mindful pres- fingers!
ence means waiting to see what unfolds
in order to gain a complete picture of The teacher wrote down her observa
childrens play. A teacher who observes tions and added an interpretive note
children as a first step in supporting that the childrens behavior may be a

The curriculum-planning cycle




growing sign of empathy as measured cry. Jasmine continued to focus on the

by the DRDP, and the other childs snail, saying nothing to Yuri. For the
willingness to hold the snail, a grow teacher, Jasmines behavior was sig
ing sign of curiosity and initiative, also nificant. This anecdotal note provided
a DRDP measure. some evidence of Jasmines struggles
with impulse control. It added to the
Document growing evidence that Jasmine was
still developing impulse control and
Documenting means gathering and
empathy. Later, as the teacher shared
holding evidence of childrens play and
her observation with her co-teacher
interests for future use. A common form
and with Jasmines father in a confer
of documentation in early childhood set-
ence, they discussed how the small-
tings is a written note, often referred to as
group work around keeping the snails
an observation anecdote. Anecdotal notes,
safe might support Jasmine as well
along with other forms of documentation,
as other children in reading cues of
in particular photos, video recordings,
others and in thinking before acting in
and work samples, serve a dual purpose.
order to keep people safe.
First, they hold memories of a teachers
observations of childrens expressions of
feelings, their thinking, and their learning Reflect, discuss, plan
that are guides to the next steps in day- As teachers reflect on childrens play,
to-day curriculum planning. And second, they discover possibilities for designing
anecdotal notes and other evidence can curriculum to sustain, extend, and help
be used to support a teachers periodic childrens play to be more complex and,
assessment of a childs progress in com- consequently, support the childrens con-
petencies measured by the DRDP. An tinuing learning. Teachers review ideas
episode during the snail exploration high- for possible next steps in the curricu-
lights the dual purpose of documentation. lum. Possible steps might include adding
materials to interest areas, books to read
During their initial encounters with with large or small groups, activities to
the snails, the children asked ques do in small groups, or a topic to inves-
tions and made comments about tigate over time with the children. With
the snail shells, the way the snails clear ideas or objectives in mind, teachers
moved across the tray, and what the plan curriculum that includes strategies
snails ate. Although several children to enhance the learning of all children
were reluctant to pick up the snails, in a group, as well as strategies to sup-
others were challenged by having to port the learning of individual children.
wait. The teachers recorded childrens How reflection, discussion, and planning
distinct responses, writing down sig worked in the snail exploration is what
nificant elements of what children will be examined next.
said or did. For example, for a child
with identified special needs related While the children were exploring
to self-regulation, a teacher noted: snails, teachers met each week to
Jasmine pushed aside Yuri in order reflect and plan for the next steps
to pick up the snail crawling off the in the childrens explorations. They
tray. Yuri stumbled, fell, and began to decided to schedule time for small


groups of children to explore the Here is what happened when the teach-
snails in a more focused way, hoping ers implemented their idea of going on
to extend the childrens learning and walks with the children to find snails in
add complexity. The teachers planned natural habitats:
a series of walks that would allow all
the children to find snails in natural Before going on their snail hunt, a
habitats. small group of children gathered on a
blanket with the teacher. Each child
Implement was provided with a clipboard with
Once a plan is written, teachers imple- paper for taking notes while the
ment it. While implementing a plan, teacher explained how the walk would
teachers observe, reflect, and document. be a way to find snails that lived out
The curriculum-planning cycle begins side their classroom. Some children
again (or continues) as teachers watch pretended to write while the teacher
to discover how children respond to the talked, while others drew pictures of
planned curriculum and how children snails. In this group, teachers included
show evidence of their development dur- two children who were fluent in Span
ing the planned learning encounters. ish and learning English. The teachers
Teachers often approach this step with anticipated much conversation among
a sense of wonder, for they may be sur- children during the search for the snails
prised and amazed by the childrens and wanted to give these children a
responses. To hold the responses in chance to converse in their home lan
memory, teachers may record notes, guage as well as to share experiences
take a photo, or label, date, and keep a with peers who spoke only English.
work sample, all of which they can later Before heading off on the hunt, the
review to assess the impact of the cur- teacher suggested, Lets estimate.
riculum plans. The evidence collected will How many snails do you think we will
help teachers to come up with ideas for find? Each of you can guess. On a
supporting and assessing the childrens large sheet of paper that the children
learning. Teachers might ponder the fol- could easily see, she wrote each childs
lowing questions: name, saying each letter as she did
Are children responding as predicted, so, and next to each name, the number
or were there surprises? guessed by that child.
What do the childrens responses tell Armed with magnifying glasses, the
us? How might we name the childrens children went off to collect snails.
interest(s) or intention(s)? What con- There were many discoveries along
cepts and ideas are the children form- the walk, not just snails. As children
ing within their play? found snails, they carried them to a
How might children who are English large examination tray set up on a
learners and children who speak Eng- table. Some children took a break from
lish collaborate in small groups to their snail search to examine, touch,
learn from one another? and draw the snails already collected.
Are children showing evidence of prog- At the end of the hunt, the children
ress on any of the measures of the lined up the snails on a small log and
DRDP? counted them. The teacher suggested


they compare the number they counted resources to families in order to bridge
with their estimates. childrens experiences in preschool with
Before returning to their classroom, the experiences at home and in the commu-
children put the snails back into their nity. For example, the teachers used
natural habitats. The children were the childrens interest in the snails to
excited about sharing their experiences support family members participation
with other teachers and peers when in creating learning opportunities in the
they returned. following way.

The teachers examined and reflected

During the snail exploration, teachers
on what they saw in the childrens
posted near the entry a note with a
writings and drawings on the clip
photo of children exploring snails at
boards. They decided that some of
the science table. They suggested to
the work samples were significant in
families to consider doing a snail hunt
showing how individual children were
on the way to school, in a park, or in
developing an idea, concept, or skill.
a yard. A stack of copies of the snail
They filed those samples in the chil
diagram with the words eyes, ten-
drens portfolios as evidence of devel
tacles, and shell written in Spanish,
opmental progress.
English, and Russian was available
for family members to take with them.
Partnering with families
in curriculum planning
Connections: Fertile ground
As the snail-exploration vignette illus- for making meaning
trates in several places, teachers also
include the childrens families in support- The snail vignette illustrates how
ing childrens learning. Teachers find it teachers can help children make connec-
particularly helpful to share documenta- tions and thereby make meaning. This
tion of childrens learning with childrens exploration allowed children to investi-
family members. When families and gate and learn about creatures from the
teachers reflect together on documenta- outdoor environment in the classroom. In
tion of childrens play and learning, family doing so, the children were able to make
members offer insights into the childrens meaning about snails natural habitats
behavior and ideas, as well as share while encountering opportunities to
expectations of their children at home or engage in integrated learning in every
in the community. Teachers also provide domain.
Young childrens experiences at home
and in their communities are a powerful
source of connections. Teachers nurture
childrens appetites for learning and
making meaning by building upon the
knowledge children bring to the preschool
setting. For example, children may come
to preschool with knowledge of many
family stories. Their teachers may have
observed that the children used the sto-
ries in the dramatic play area. However,
the children did not seem to be aware


that their stories could be written down pleasurable. The key is to find out which
and then read by someone else. In such a connections are meaningful for each
case, teachers can partner with families individual child. When teachers discover
to create a story dictation study. In plan- what may be personally meaningful for
ning the snail exploration, the teachers a child, there is a good chance of fully
and family members may ask: engaging that child in making meaning
Would the children be interested in and learning.
seeing their family stories written
down, and would such experiences
help them increase their awareness of Implementation of the
print in the world around them? Framework
What strategies or adaptations might
help a child who is nonverbal to
become engaged in family storytelling?
Would children in the group who are
T he concepts and strategies require
thoughtful planning and implemen-
tation. They are grounded in evidence-
English learners make the connection
based practices that have evolved in the
to print more easily if they can dictate
field of early childhood education over
their stories in their home language
decades. The ability to apply a broad
to family members or community
understanding of early learning and
development in the preschool setting
What topics may be interesting and
takes time and experience. For teachers
engaging for children to dictate? What
to gain the knowledge and skills neces-
kinds of questions would help individ-
sary to approach curriculum as this
ual children, English learners, or chil-
framework envisions, opportunities for
dren with diverse cultural experiences
professional development are essential.
to get started with dictation?
The CDEs preschool learning founda-
How might the activity be adapted to
tions and the preschool curriculum
accommodate children with disabilities
framework offer well-researched docu-
or other special needs?
ments informed by practice that can be
Would asking children about how
used for both preservice and in-service
their family helps them get ready for
professional development. Those two doc-
preschool encourage them to dictate
uments are part of Californias Preschool
a meaningful experience?
Learning System, along with program
Would a child who likes to draw pic-
guidelines, the PEL Resource Guide, pro-
tures have an easy time dictating
fessional development activities, and the
a story about a drawing?
Desired Results assessment system. With
Teachers can explore these questions appropriate professional development,
and see where the exploration leads. preschool administrators and teachers
When teachers embed childrens learning can use this curriculum framework to
into their lives, into contexts that they guide their planning and implementation
have experienced, teachers make every- of environments and experiences that
thing more comprehensible for them. allow all young children to prosper during
Teachers also engage childrens emotions, the preschool years.
making the experience both cognitive and



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The California
Early Learning
and Development


hapter 1 highlights how all preschool children
enthusiastically engage in learning. Their active
minds continually explore ideas and seek to
make meaning as they play. To make the most out of
their lively engagement with the social and physical
worlds, young children need teachers who share and
guide their learning experiences. Research on the
benefits of high-quality preschool confirms the essen
tial role of the teacher. It is important for teachers
to be knowledgeable about young childrens learning
and skillful at helping individual children and small
groups of children build their knowledge and skills.

To support early childhood teachers, foundations. The foundations describe

the California Early Learning and Develop competenciesknowledge and skills
ment System (see Appendix A) provides an that all young children typically learn
integrated set of resources based on state- with appropriate support. Three volumes
of-the-art information on early learning of foundations are being developed that,
and development and best practices in taken together, cover nine developmental
early education. Each component area in domains. Already published, Volume 1
the system provides resources that focus includes foundations in the domains of
on a different aspect of supporting pre social-emotional development, language
school teachers and links to the resources and literacy, English-language develop-
provided in every other component of the ment, and mathematics. Volume 2 will
system. This chapter provides an overview cover the domains of visual and per-
of these different component areas and a forming arts, physical development, and
highlight of some of the resources. One health. Finally, Volume 3 will focus on the
of the systems resources, the Desired domains of history-social science and sci-
Results Development Profile (DRDP), ence. Together, the foundations present
is described in greater detail than the a comprehensive view of what preschool
others. This resource allows teachers to children learn through child-initiated
assess childrens progress in key areas play and teacher-guided experiences and
of learning, which is integral to curricu- environments, offering rich background
lum planning. A description of each information for teachers to consider as
component area follows. they plan for children. The foundations
describe major areas of learning in which
intentional teaching can support young
Preschool Learning childrens progress in preschool.
Foundations The foundations identify key areas of
potential learning. While moving in the

A t the center of the California Early direction identified by each foundation,

Learning and Development System each child will progress along a unique
are the California preschool learning path that reflects both the childs


individuality and cultural and linguistic has initiated a multifaceted strategy of

experiences. In essence, the foundations providing training and technical assis-
help teachers to understand childrens tance, which is aligned with the preschool
learning and focus on intentional teach- learning foundations to support the use
ing. Other resources for supporting inten- of all resources in the early learning
tional teaching are organized around the system.
foundations. As explained in Chapter 1,
strategies for fostering childrens learn-
ing in each area are organized by the Preschool Curriculum
domains, strands, and substrands speci-
fied in the three volumes of the founda-
tions. In addition, the DRDP is currently
undergoing alignment with the founda-
tions. The final alignment will occur after O ngoing classroom planning is an
integral part of intentional teach-
ing. The California Preschool Curriculum
the third (final) volume of the foundations
is completed. The alignment of the DRDP Framework, Volumes 1, 2, and 3 will be
with the foundations will promote a more the resources in the early learning system
integrated profile of each child. Instead of that pertain to planning for childrens
a developmental profile of a large number learning. Each volume of the curriculum
of indicators, the fully aligned DRDP will framework addresses domains in the
provide a profile of individual childrens corresponding volume of foundations.
progress in each domain. With DRDP Volume 1 has chapters on each of the
information focused on the domain areas, domains addressed in the California Pre-
teachers will be able to use the curricu- school Learning Foundations, Volume 1:
lum framework to support each childs social-emotional development, language
learning in various domains in an inte- and literacy, English-language develop-
grated way. ment, and mathematics. The curricu-
The foundations are also central to lum framework presents an integrated
the other components of the California approach to the planning of environ-
Early Learning and Development System: ments, interactions, and strategies to
namely, program guidelines and other support young childrens learning in
resources and professional develop- those domains.
ment. The program guidelines and other Each chapter offers an in-depth look at
resources cover a broad range of policies ways to help children acquire knowledge
and practices that influence program and skills in a specific area, always in
quality, including the design of indoor the context of an integrated approach
and outdoor learning environments, part- to support learning. In other words,
nerships with families, cultural diversity, each domain chapter puts the spotlight
inclusion of children with special needs, on a particular domain, for example,
and professional ethics. In implement- social-emotional development, and the
ing recommended policies and practices, strategies presented in the chapter foster
program directors and teachers set the learning in other domains.
stage for intentional curriculum planning The alignment between the curriculum
aligned to the preschool learning founda- framework and the foundations is easy
tions. As for professional development, to see. In a nutshell, the content of each
the California Department of Education domain chapter in the curriculum frame-


work is organized into the strands and

substrands of the corresponding domain
in the foundations document.
In the early learning system, the cur-
riculum framework is the resource that
supports teachers ongoing planning.
The curriculum framework includes
principles, concepts, and practices that
reflect a developmentally appropriate
approach to plan learning environments,
interactions, experiences, and daily rou-
tines for young children. In contrast to
of the CDEs Desired Results assessment
the approach of some preschool cur-
system. The DRDP is an observational
ricula, the curriculum framework does
assessment instrument that is being
not prescribe activities that teachers
aligned to the foundations. It provides
are expected to follow. It is flexible and
teachers with a developmental profile of
designed to foster respect for the diversity
each childs progress. In addition, teach-
of preschool children, teachers, commu-
ers can look at the individual profiles for
nities, and programs in California. The
an entire classroom to see the extent to
curriculum framework encourages teach-
which all children in a group are making
ers to adapt to individual and cultural
progress and benefiting from the teach-
and linguistic diversity while supporting
ers ongoing classroom planning.
childrens ongoing process of making
Information gained from the DRDP
helps teachers plan for both individual
children and for small groups of children.
As illustrated in the snail example in
Desired Results Chapter 1, teachers review individual
Assessment System childrens developmental profiles for any
emerging knowledge and skills that might
be supported in a small-group learning
Desired Results Developmental
experience. In the example, based on the
Profile review of younger childrens progress
Teachers gain general knowledge of with learning to count objects between
young childrens learning from the foun- five and ten, the teachers invited the
dations and ideas for supporting learn-
ing from the curriculum framework, but a
The DRDP access is an alternative assessment
neither of these resources inform teach- instrument that can be used for children three
to five years of age who have a disability. This
ers about individual childrens learn-
observation-based assessment instrument is based
ing and developmental progress. The on a continuum that reflects a broader range of
resources in the early learning system developmental abilities. Each childs Individualized
that assist teachers with documenting Education Program (IEP) team determines which
individual childrens progress are the assessment instrument will be used. Most childrens
progress will be documented by the DRDP. In
Desired Results Developmental Profile
the remainder of this chapter, unless preschool
(DRDP) preschool instrument and the instrument is specifically indicated, the term DRDP
Desired Results Developmental Profile refers to both the DRDP preschool instrument and
access (DRDP access),a both components the DRDP access.


children to set up a specific number (less language and literacy, English-language

than ten) of trays and snails. (The entire development, and mathematics.
snail vignette appears on pages 1423 of To facilitate curriculum planning, the
Chapter 1.) Teachers suggested to other DRDP preschool instrument summarizes
children who were continuing to make childrens progress along a continuum of
progress with counting to count out a four levels:
quantity of sticks, bark, or leaves greater Exploring: Child shows awareness of
than ten. Other children were asked to the new knowledge or skill and tries it
divide the snails evenly among the trays. out.
Teachers noted childrens efforts and Developing: Child gains some control
placed the notes, with the date recorded, of the new knowledge or skill, demon-
into the childrens individual portfolios strating basic competency.
to be used as evidence of developmental Building: Child refines and expands
progress on the DRDP measures of new knowledge or skill.
number sense. This example illustrates Integrating: Child connects and com-
how teachers observe and document bines the new knowledge or skill with
learning as children engage in play. other knowledge or skills.
Documenting an individual childs
The resulting developmental profile for
learning is key in teachers efforts to
each child shows the domains in which
deepen their understanding of how to
the child has made progress and whether
support each childs learning and devel-
there are any domains in which he or she
opment. As teachers observe and docu-
needs additional support. As the vignette
ment what engages children in learning,
about investigating snails in Chapter 1
especially during child-initiated play,
illustrates, teachers use information
they simultaneously reflect on what they
observe, document significant aspects gained from the DRDP to provide each
through notetaking or a photo, and begin child with an appropriate level of chal-
to appreciate each childs creation of lenge in specific knowledge and skill
meaning. Ongoing observation, reflec- areas as children engage in an integrated
tion, and documentation occur through- learning experience.
out each day. Teachers continually gain At all times, young childrens learn-
insights and find new ways to connect ing is integrated. Every experience offers
with the childrens developing compe- them an opportunity to develop a wide
tencies, expand childrens thinking, range of knowledge and skills. Likewise,
and encourage further exploration of an every experience typically engages more
emerging idea or ability. The day-to-day than a single competency as children
documentation of childrens learning learn. One of the most important compe-
experiences becomes the source for peri- tencies that preschool children possess is
odic assessment of childrens develop- language. As described in Chapter 1, chil-
mental progress. dren who are learning English as well as
Teachers use the documentation they their home language use both languages
have gathered over time to complete a as they learn in all domains. Because
DRDP for each child. These assessment English learners may show their knowl-
instruments produce developmental edge of, for example, mathematics, or the
profiles for each child across the major arts using their home language, teachers
domains of learning and development, often document and assess demonstra-
such as social-emotional development, tion of knowledge and skills in a childs


home language. The DRDP users guideb learning both in the preschool class-
and training information provide guid- room and at home by partnering with
ance to teachers on how to document the childrens families); and
and assess competencies that English the effectiveness of their curriculum
learners demonstrate using their home (for example, information on the chil-
language. drens current progress in engaging in
Families play an essential role in their cooperative play would help teachers
preschool childrens learning. They know focus their curriculum planning on the
their children better than anyone else and area of social-emotional development).
are able to provide insights and ideas that
add to teachers understanding of chil- Desired Results Parent Survey
dren. Reflection on documentation and a The Desired Results Parent Survey
childs individual profile of developmen- is used (1) to assess parent satisfaction
tal progress in partnership with family with the early childhood program, and
members strengthens the entire curricu- (2) to gain an understanding of families
lum-planning process. Partnering with strengths and needs in supporting their
families in this process honors their role childrens learning and development and
in their childrens learning and commu- in achieving their goals. Programs con-
nicates respect. Together, teachers and duct this survey annually as part of the
families can generate ideas and activities programs self-review.
to foster childrens development of emerg- Teachers reflect on information from
ing knowledge and skills at both school the survey to understand additional
and home. information about the children and the
The DRDP is part of the Desired program, to identify program strengths,
Results assessment system, which, in and to determine ways to facilitate fam-
turn, is part of the larger California Early ily participation in the program and help
Learning and Development System. In family members build their capacities
addition to the DRDP, the Desired Results to support their childrens learning and
system includes the Desired Results development.
Parent Survey and the Environment
Rating Scale (ERS). Information collected Environment Rating Scale
through the system of Desired Results The Environment Rating Scale (ERS)
assessment instruments allows early edu- assesses the quality of the learning envi-
cators to review, evaluate, and reflect on: ronment (see Harms, Clifford, and Cryer
the strengths of their program (for 2005, p. 92). Specifically, teachers use
example, a program may already the ERS to assess the quality of the inter-
provide a rich collection of literacy actions, the space, the schedule, and
materials); materials they provide to their group of
ways to increase the quality of their children. The ERS is completed, sum-
programs (for example, a program may marized, analyzed, and then considered
discover a need to increase the variety in program improvement plans once
of activities and interactions it offers a year. Teachers combine information
to support childrens mathematics gained from the ERS with other sources
to engage in long-term planning and con-
b The DRDP user's guide is available at https:// tinual program improvement.


ten principles and accompanying prac-

Program Guidelines tices. For example, Principle 2 states:
Children benefit when their teachers
and Other Resources understand cultural differences in lan-
guage use and incorporate them into the
Prekindergarten Learning & daily routine. It goes on to state: Cul-
turally responsive teaching practices in
Development Guidelines
the preschool classroom create a positive
The CDE offers several resources: learning environment. They incorporate
The Prekindergarten Learning & Devel- the linguistic and cultural resources that
opment Guidelines recommends policies children bring with them and thereby pro-
and practices that enhance the quality of mote their learning and overall growth.
preschool programs. In addition to giving The PEL Resource Guide works in tan-
an overview of preschool childrens learn- dem with the preschool learning founda-
ing and development and curriculum tions. It provides expanded information
planning, the publication covers a broad about the domain of English-language
range of topics that contribute to pro- development. It also provides details on
gram quality: strategies to support childrens ongoing
Planning the Preschool Environment learning and use of their home language
Addressing Cultural Diversity as well as English. Teachers can draw on
Planning for Assessment these strategies as they engage in curricu-
Including Children with Disabilities lum planning.
or Other Special Needs
Involving Parents and Families A World Full of Language:
Organizing Staff Preparation and Supporting Preschool English
Development Programs Learners
As stated earlier in this chapter, the A resource that complements the
recommendations set forth in the pre- PEL Resource Guide is A World Full of
kindergarten guidelines set the stage Language: Supporting Preschool English
for intentional teaching and curricu- Learners. Available in both English and
lum planning centered on the preschool Spanish from the CDE, this DVD first
learning foundations. gives an overview of the discussion of
second-language learning in the resource
Preschool English Learners guide. It then presents the following five
Resource Guide strategies that support second-language
The CDE publication Preschool English
Honor the Home Language
Learners: Principles and Practices to Pro-
Create a Climate of Belonging
mote Language, Literacy, and Learning
Provide Scaffolds
(PEL Resource Guide) provides guidance
Focus on the Childrens Interests
on how to support preschool children
Encourage Peer Support
who are learning English as a second
language. This resource guide highlights These strategies are followed by the
the role of families in language and lit- following five strategies that support
eracy development as well as the impor- preschool childrens inclination toward
tance of connecting preschool and the literacy:
home language. It is organized around Strengthen Interest in Print


Build Letter Knowledge

Draw Attention to Sounds In-Depth Understanding
Make Books and Stories Come Alive
Link Literacy to Home and Community and Planning for
Of course, the above strategies apply Childrens Integrated
to all children. The DVD shows how the Learning
strategies contribute to the learning of
children who are developing knowledge
and skills in two languagestheir home
language and English. If supported well
T he different resources and activities
that make up the California Early
Learning and Development System offer
during the preschool years, children who
preschool program directors and teachers
are on the path to bilingualism have an
opportunities to explore a wide variety of
opportunity to become competent in two
topics in depth. Likewise, this curriculum
languages and cultures and therefore bet-
framework reflects a dual emphasis on
ter equipped for an increasingly global
breadth and depth. Teachers can use this
framework to consider the details of cur-
riculum planning in different domains. At
the same time, rather than being isolated
Professional Development from learning in other domains, the strat-
egies presented for one domain are con-

P rofessional development makes the

California Early Learning and Devel-
opment System come alive for teachers
nected with learning in other domains. In
deepening understanding of each domain,
one can see new possibilities for integrat-
and program directors. The CDE is taking ing curriculum planning and connect-
a multifaceted approach to promoting the ing childrens learning experiences. The
use of the early learning system in pro- chapters that follow in this curriculum
fessional development. Initiatives include framework explore in depth the domains
the preparation and ongoing professional of social-emotional development, language
development of preschool teachers in two- and literacy, English-language develop-
year and four-year colleges. In addition, ment, and mathematics. As the snail
a network has been created to support vignette in Chapter 1 illustrates, teachers
the continuing development of current draw on their in-depth understanding of
preschool teachers. To guide efforts to childrens learning in different domains.
foster professional development, the CDE As teachers observe, reflect upon, and
has partnered with First 5 California to document each childs engagement in
develop Early Childhood Educator Com- making meaning, their knowledge of strat-
petencies that are aligned with the pre- egies that support learning in various
school learning foundations and all other domains helps them use an integrated
resources in the California Early Learning approach when planning curriculum. With
and Development System. These compe- in-depth knowledge of how to support
tencies describe the knowledge, skills, and knowledge and skill development in every
dispositions of early childhood educators domain, teachers can more easily focus
and will become the CDEs cornerstone on a specific area of learning while being
for professional development, training, responsive to each childs entire learning
and technical assistance. experience.




ocial-emotional development indicates how preschool children
acquire the social skills, self-awareness, and personal qualities
that are interconnected with learning in a classroom. This develop-
mental domain is divided into three interrelated strands.

The first, Self, covers the qualities of are preschool childrens attachments
self-awareness, self-confidence, and to parents and the bridges between
personality that enable young children home and the preschool program that
to be competent learners.1, 2, 3 Included support childrens learning, close rela-
in this strand are the development of tionships with special teachers and
self-awareness and self-confidence; caregivers, and friendships with other
self-regulation (of attention, feelings, children.
impulses, and thinking); social and Why is social-emotional development
emotional understanding; the growth important to early learning? One
of empathy and caring for others; reason is that many social-emotional
and preschool childrens initiative as qualitiessuch as curiosity; self-confi
enthusiastic, active learners. dence as a learner; self-control of
The second, Social Interaction, includes attention, thinking, and impulses; and
the skills for interacting competently initiative in developing new ideasare
with adults and peers in formal and essential to learning at any age. Learning,
informal learning contexts.4 Included problem solving, and creativity rely on
in this strand are the growth of social these social-emotional and motivational
skills for interaction with familiar adults qualities as well as basic cognitive skills.
and with peers, understanding of the Another reason is that when learning
roles and responsibilities of group occurs in groups, such as in preschool
participation, and acquisition of the classrooms or family child care programs,
capacity for responsible behavior and the social environment significantly influ-
cooperation with adult instructions. ences how learning occurs. When young
The third, Relationships, focuses on children enjoy interacting with adults and
how close relationships influence young other children, they are more enthusiastic
childrens learning in direct and indirect about activities and participate more.7, 8
ways.5, 6 Included Furthermore, the interest and enthu-
in this strand, siasm of others fuels the childs own
for example, excitement about learning, and children
are also motivated by others acknowledg-
ment of the childs accomplishments.
Interviews with preschool and kinder
garten teachers indicate that children
who have the greatest difficulties in learn-
ing are hindered by the lack of these
social-emotional qualities more than by
the inability to identify letters or num-
bers.9, 10 Children who are delayed or
impaired in developing these social-
emotional and motivational qualities:


may have difficulty controlling their children learn in this domain some-
emotions or behavior, what differently from the way that they
may not readily work independently or acquire language, number concepts, or
in a group, other academic skills. Growth in social
often appear to lack curiosity or be and emotional competencies is not pri-
uninterested in learning, and marily the outcome of specific content
may have difficulties getting along taught in a program of organized les-
with others, which may undermine the sons, but early childhood educators
learning environment for all children. must be as deliberate and intentional
Finally, the importance of social- in promoting social-emotional devel-
emotional development to early learning is opment as they are in designing cur-
consistent with the research on brain sci- ricula to encourage literacy or number
ence.11 The developing brain is not neatly skills. Indeed, they must be even more
divided into separate areas governing thoughtful in doing so because sup-
learning, thinking, and emotions. Instead, porting learning in this domain is
it is a highly interconnected organ with implicit in the design of the classroom
different regions influencing, and being environment, in the formal and informal
affected by, the others. This means, for moment-by-moment interactions they
example, that young children who expe- share with children, and in many other
rience emotional challenges (perhaps planned and spontaneous activities. In
because of stress) are less ready for learn- addition, some children need intentional
ing because brain regions related to mem- teaching of specific skills and content to
ory are being affected by other regions acquire social skills.
governing emotion. This conclusion from Children also need ample opportunities
brain research is, of course, consistent to practice the skills in order to inter-
with the everyday experience of teachers nalize them.12 Social-emotional develop-
of children whose stressful lives often lead ment is supported in an early childhood
to emotional, behavioral, and learning classroom only when adults are mindful
difficulties. of the many ways they influence pre-
Early learning is thus supported by school childrens self-awareness,
attention to social-emotional development. social skills, emotional understanding,
Indeed, rather than taking time away from personality, and other qualities.13
activities promoting learning and think-
ing, attention to the development of self, Attend to the impact of overall
program design on social-emotional
social interactions, and relationships is an
essential component of an early childhood
Creating an early childhood program
curriculum designed to promote learning
that supports social-emotional develop-
in all young children.
ment depends on how the overall pro-
gram is designed, the childs role in the
learning environment, and the kinds
Guiding Principles of social interactions that occur there.
Group activities specifically planned to
Support social-emotional develop- focus on caring, cooperation, or friend-
ment with intentionality ship skills can play an essential role in
Attention to the domain of social-emo- the curriculum. That role, however, is
tional development is important. Most to reinforce and extend broader lessons


that are learned through (a) the ways and teacherchild interactions. To
that teachers interact with children successfully support social-emotional
throughout the day, and (b) teachers development, the curriculum must be
intentional modeling and coaching in designed to:
many formal and informal social con- allow many opportunities for prac-
texts. ticing social interaction and rela-
Utilize curriculum practices that tionship skills;
support healthy social-emotional provide support for the growth of
development age- and developmentally appropri-
Research indicates that there are ate self-regulation abilities;
practices that support healthy social- encourage curiosity and initiative;
emotional development in children.14 and
These include an overall program provide each child a network of nur-
curriculum that provides guidance turing, dependable adults who will
for designing the indoor and outdoor actively support and scaffold his or
environment, routines and activities, her learning in a group setting.

Children and Stress

A dults hope to protect young children

from trauma and adversity, but for
many children, experiences of overwhelm-
Stress is a part of everyday experience, of
course, and this is as true for young children
as it is for adults. In most cases, children
ing stress are part of everyday life. Living at encounter stresses that are manageable
home with a depressed parent, experiencing for them, whether they involve getting
physical or sexual abuse, witnessing domes- an immunization, tolerating a siblings
tic violence, coping at home with a parent teasing, or recovering from a frightening
who has an alcohol or other substance fall. Moreover, young children can usually
abuse problem, chronic poverty, and simi- rely on the assistance of trusted adults to
lar experiences can be crushing for young help them cope with everyday stresses.
children. Such experiences are called toxic Research has shown that toddlers in secure
stress and can lead to physical and mental relationships with their mothers are better
health problems (National Scientific Council able to manage frightening events, both
on the Developing Child 2005). Those expe- emotionally and physiologically, compared
riences exceed young childrens capacity for with toddlers in insecure parentchild
coping, especially when children lack the relationships (Nachmias et al. 1996). Because
support of a warm, competent adult to help young children ordinarily rely on the support
them manage the stress. There is growing of trusted adults in coping with stress in their
evidence that the experience of chronic, lives, experiences in which their caregivers
unpredictable, and overwhelming stress are threatening or unavailable can be
in the early years can lead to the develop- especially difficult for them.
ment of neurobiological stress systems in Teachers in an early childhood education
the brain that are sensitive to threat and program are often the first persons outside
lead young children to overreact to ordinary the family to become aware that a young
stressful events (National Scientific Council child may be experiencing overwhelming
on the Developing Child 2005). stress. They may notice a child who reacts


Encourage play-based active choosing or pursuing activities deserve

learning support and strategies to enable them
A play-based, active learning approach to participate in active learning. In
is most effective in accomplishing this context, play is essential and is
these goals.15 Children must be allowed enhanced if materials are available
to freely choose and pursue interests to encourage creativity and teachers
and activities, both alone and with oth- are attentive to the social interactions
ers. They must be allowed to translate that surround play. Active learning is
their own thoughts, ideas, and prefer- essential and is enhanced (1) if materi-
ences into new activities and experi- als are readily accessible to children
ments.16 They must also have access and (2) if teachers are sensitive to the
to these opportunities for activity and growth that they can foster through
exploration, in a thoughtfully planned childrens chosen activities.17
environment, for a substantial portion This approach of promoting childrens
of each preschool day. Children with active engagement with activities,
significant disabilities or difficulties in materials, and other people requires

with uncharacteristic aggression to a peers is child-centered, individualized, responsive,

comment that would not bother another and helpfully structured to give young chil-
child, or they may notice that a child has dren a sense of control and predictability
become unusually quiet and withdrawn that may be lacking in other aspects of
lately. Young children convey their stress in the childs life. Central to these efforts is
individualized ways: some are emotionally providing children with supportive adult
overreactive, while others are emotionally relationships that are reliable and helpful.
overcontrolled; some become clingy, oth- This may be more difficult than one would
ers withdrawn; some become provocative expect because young children under stress
and defiant. A common characteristic is often test these relationships to see whether
that young children under stress exhibit a teachers and other adults will remain
marked change from their ordinary behav- responsive to them even when children act
ior. They often lose their capacity for compe- defiantly or negatively.
tence and self-control that they previously In some circumstances, it can be help-
had. When teachers observe these changes ful for teachers to obtain the advice of an
in a child, it can be helpful to consult with early childhood mental health consultant
parents to discover whether recent events who can observe the child in the classroom,
have created challenges that children are talk with the teacher about the childs
having difficulty managing. Often these behavior, and suggest strategies for provid-
challenges arise from within the family. ing supportive assistance. Early childhood
How can teachers assist young children mental health consultants can be valuable
under stress? One of the most important resources to an early childhood education
things they can do is provide the child with program. They can help teachers provide
a predictable, safe haven where children can much-needed support to young children
feel secure. Teachers can create a comfort- who may not have other such sources of
able and comforting everyday routine that support elsewhere in their lives.


teachers own active engagement and Use the experiences and emotions of
planning. The following strategies characters in childrens books and
are key to ensuring social-emotional stories to illustrate social problem
development: solving, cooperative behavior, and
Create a program environment and other concepts.
daily routines that offer children Provide intentional teaching of social
opportunities for responsible and skills, friendship skills, and emotion
cooperative roles in the classroom or regulation.
family child care community.
Model desirable behavior and atti-
tudes in interactions with children
Environments and
and other adults. Materials
Use the family culture to create
bridges between the program and
the home, supporting childrens
pride in their family experience, and
T he physical environment provides
young children with expectations for
behavior.18 When educators are mind-
understand individual differences ful of the aesthetics, organization, and
in background and viewpoint. function of each area in the space, chal-
Enlist adults as active co-explorers lenging behavior is likely to decrease
in childrens chosen activities. while constructive, cooperative behavior
Encourage childrens ideas, initiative, increases.19 A programs vision for learn-
and contributions to shared activities. ing and philosophy of care dictate how an
Observe children attentively, as they environment is designed.20 For example,
play, to understand each childs if the curriculum is based on the view
needs and interests, strengths, and that children are competent directors of
areas of growth in social-emotional their own learning, educators develop a
development. physical setting and activities that reflect
Establish developmentally and cul- childrens emerging interests and provide
turally appropriate expectations for easy access to meaningful play materi-
childrens behavior, especially expec- als. Shelves for manipulatives and other
tations for self-control and self- materials are near the floor where chil-
regulation. dren can easily reach them. Special areas
Narrate for children what they are in the room are designed for individual,
observed doing and expressing, pro small-group, and larger-group interac-
viding language to describe their tions. Play materials and other materials
thoughts and feelings and to clarify are carefully selected to reflect childrens
others feelings. emerging interests, as observed in the
Provide specific feedback to children context of play and conversation. In this
about their efforts, reinforcing their environment, adultchild interactions can
choices that support learning and expand childrens questions and com-
linking their actions to outcomes. ments. This broader vision for childrens
Coach and guide childrens behavior learning and care thus helps to promote
by using positive, respectful phrasing synchrony between the environment,
and tone to prompt problem solv- routines, and teacherchild interactions.
ing and to give brief instructions and High-quality learning environments
reminders. set the stage for social-emotional explo-


ration and growth.21 When children are that all children physically have access
presented with a warm, inviting, and to all areas.
culturally familiar environment, they feel
Appropriately sized small-group
comfortable and secure.22 The attractive activities
spaces adults prepare for children com- It limits the size of small-group activi-
municate expectations of responsibility ties to promote peer interaction and
and cooperative care (we all play in and struggles over turn-taking and use of
care for this beautiful place together). materials.
Preparing a variety of learning areas with
open-ended materials encourages each A variety of small-group activities
Activities are planned so that a range
child to participate in meaningful play
of adult supervision exists: from activi-
experiences that match their individual
ties that children can do with minimal
temperaments and abilities. Incorporat-
adult supervision (e.g., dramatic play,
ing elements from the home creates an
familiar books, and puzzles) to ones
atmosphere of community while simul-
that require close adult supervision
taneously acknowledging the presence of
(e.g., messy art activities, preparing
food, learning to use new toys, materi-
A physical environment that supports
als, or games).
social-emotional learning has the follow-
ing characteristics: Aesthetically appealing
The aesthetics (e.g., colors, textures,
Challenging and developmentally
furnishings, other physical elements
appropriate materials
of the environment) are designed so
It provides children with challenging,
that children are comfortable and their
developmentally appropriate materials
energy and attention are focused on
that encourage both creative, flexible
the activities. An overstimulating envi-
use (e.g., open-ended materials such
ronment is avoided.
as blocks and art supplies) and prac-
tice in problem solving (e.g., closed- Public and private spaces
ended materials such as puzzles and There are both public spaces that
matching games). encourage peer interaction and pri-
vate spaces where children can take
Ample supply of materials
a break from sociability (areas with
It offers plenty of materials to avoid
materials such as storybooks, pillows,
conflict between children or long wait-
blankets, or stuffed toys).
ing for a turn. Materials are labeled in
the languages of the children in the
group (e.g., using pictures, words, and
symbols) to offer children a menu of
opportunities for play.
Organized learning areas
The space is organized with designated
learning areas for large-group activities
(e.g., circle time), small-group explo-
rations (e.g., a work table or science
project), and individual activities from
which children can choose, ensuring


Furnishings and materials accessible curriculum, so too does the design of

to children the daily schedule. Young children are
Low shelving and child-sized furniture better able to manage themselves and
enable children to feel comfortable their relationships when daily routines
and confident as they take initiative and activities are predictable, transitions
in choosing activities (collaborative or are signaled and supported, and there is
individual pursuits) without requiring a balance between relatively active and
adult assistance. relatively quiet play and between group
and individual activities. In the sections
Display of childrens work
Childrens artwork and other accom- that follow, strategies to support social-
plishments are displayed at the childs emotional development are described in
eye level. detail.

Space for childrens belongings

There is a space for childrens personal Summary of Strands
belongings, including treasured items
from home. and Substrands
Reflective of diversity
The books, photographs, artwork,
music, and other materials reflect the T he domain of social-emotional devel-
opment encompasses three strands:
self, social interaction, and relationships.
diversity of the families of the children
in the group. Relationships, cultures, The strands and their substrands are as
ethnicities, and people of different follows:
ages and abilities are portrayed in the Self
environment. 1.0 Self-Awareness
2.0 Self-Regulation
Space for arrivals and departures
The physical space, as well as classroom 3.0 Social and Emotional
routines, supports arrival and departure Understanding
experiences with family members. 4.0 Empathy and Caring
5.0 Initiative in Learning
Supportive of childrens active
engagement Social Interaction
Physical and verbal support are pro- 1.0 Interactions with Familiar Adults
vided to assist the active engagement 2.0 Interactions with Peers
of children of all developmental abilities 3.0 Group Participation
in the early learning environment and 4.0 Cooperation and Responsibility
daily routines. Relationships
1.0 Attachments to Parents
Outdoor areas supportive of social-
emotional development 2.0 Close Relationships with Teachers
The outdoor classroom and natural and Caregivers
play spaces are considered an extension 3.0 Friendships
of the indoor explorations and are part Please refer to the map of the social-
of the social-emotional curriculum. emotional development foundations
Just as the physical environment helps on page 88 for a visual explanation of
young children successfully meet the the terminology used in the preschool
social-emotional demands of the learning foundations.



arly learning deeply engages the self.
Most preschool children approach learn-
ing opportunities with enthusiasm and
self-confidence, excited by the prospect of new
discovery.23 Their successes (and occasional
failures) shape their sense of what they can
do and sometimes drive their efforts to acquire new skills. Their achieve-
ments and occasional disappointments also provoke the responses of
othersadults and peersthat further influence childrens self-concept
and self-confidence. Young children value learning for themselves because
it is valued by the people who matter to them.
In a preschool program, learning is a social activity. Therefore, preschool
childrens success in learning depends on their capacity to understand
and participate constructively in the social environment. Early childhood
is a period of rapid growth in social and emotional understanding in
which the childrens capacity for empathy and caring is also developing.24
This is also a period of growth in self-regulation as young children are
acquiring skills for sustaining their attention, focusing their thinking and
problem solving, managing their behavioral impulses, and controlling their
emotions.25 Even so, lapses in self-regulation are as apparent as are young
childrens successes, and developmentally appropriate expectations for
childrens self-control are essential.
Therefore, a thoughtfully designed preschool curriculum that supports
social-emotional development devotes considerable attention to the direct
and indirect ways that childrens classroom experiences shape the self.
In this section, specific strategies are discussed that support development
in each of the following substrands:
1.0 Self-Awareness
2.0 Self-Regulation
3.0 Social and Emotional Understanding
4.0 Empathy and Caring
5.0 Initiative in Learning


1.0 Self-Awareness

P reschool children enjoy interact-

ing with adults they know and are
becoming more skilled in sharing their
they respond positively and enthusias-
tically to childrens initiatives, model
respectful communication and social
thoughts or feelings, cooperating in play interaction skills, coach children in
or problem solving, following instruc- their interactions with other adults,
tions, asking for assistance, and taking and encourage children to confidently
the initiative in social interaction.26, 27 share their ideas and experiences with
Adults contribute to these skills when them.28, 29

Vignette Four children work in the block area, racing small cars down two
large wooden ramps and arguing over whose turn it is to use each
ramp. Later, as they communicate about their mornings activities in a
small group, the teacher observes, Everyone wanted to use the block
ramps for their own cars, but there were only two ramps, so you fig-
ured out how to make the plain boards into ramps by propping them
up with the small blocks. That made enough ramps for all of you!

Teachable The teacher observes attentively as the children work in the

moment block area, waiting to see whether they will need her help to
guide them in solving their dispute. Later, during a group dis-
cussion, she tells them what she has observed. She describes
specifically the solution they worked out to their problem
of needing enough ramps for everyone, and her means of
communication, including words and tone of voice, convey
how impressed she is with their cooperation and successful
problem solving.

Vignette A child in a wheelchair enters the housekeeping area where three

children are pretending to be a family. They have dishes on the table
and dolls in the doll bed. The child in the wheelchair moves closer to
the table and tries to join the play but cannot get close enough. After
a few minutes, one of the children takes some dishes and puts them
on the wheelchair tray. The two children play together. Mr. Luke com-
ments, I like your idea to use Andys tray as a table.

Teachable The teacher observes attentively as the child using a wheel-

moment chair enters the housekeeping area and watches to see how the
children will include him in play. When a child uses the wheel-
chair tray as a table, the teacher comments about the solution
using positive words.


The following interactions and strate- work, cooperation, and successful prob-
gies can help children grow in self- lem solving. Describing specific observa-
awareness: tions also helps children remember the
Designate learning areas to help chil- positive roles they played in an event and
dren select preferred sites for explora- will help them repeat similar actions in
tion. Place active play zones away from the future: You noticed that I was having
quiet areas to better support children trouble understanding what Lucia needed
in their choices for play. Children seek at the art table, so you asked her about
appropriately stimulating spaces as they it in Spanish and then told me that she
learn to monitor their own internal needs. needed more yellow paint. Thank you
you helped both Lucia and me.
Observe individual children attentively
during a variety of activities to find out Use planned activities and childrens
about each childs characteristics and own observations to draw attention to
preferences (e.g., active, quiet, dramatic, peoples similarities and differences,
persistent), communication skills, inter- including preferences and feelings.
ests, and challenges. Play circle games that ask children to do
actions based on things that distinguish
Incorporate artwork and play materials them from each other (e.g., If you like
that reflect childrens home cultures to rainy days, . . . have curly hair, or wear
help children and families feel comfortable glasses . . . point to yourself or stand
and welcome in the preschool program. up and jump!). Follow up on a childs
Describe aloud for children observa- comment that grandmas dont live
tions of what they do and express as with youthey just visit, with a group
they play, explore, and participate in discussion about where various chil-
group activities. Use language that labels drens grandparents live, including those
thoughts and feelings: Youre standing in the childs household. Use childrens
back to admire your block tower, Felipe. observations about each others charac-
You look very pleased about how tall you teristics to begin conversations about the
built it. Or David, you laughed and many ways that people are the same and
thought it was funny when Emma mixed different.
up your puzzle pieces, but Leo looks upset Set up opportunities to practice prob-
when you do that to his puzzle pieces. lem solving with children who have
Compare aloud childrens past and not yet developed those skills. When
present abilities as you observe them: serving a snack, ask the children what
When you first came to preschool, Kim, to do since there is only one apple for
you couldnt turn on the water by your- four children. As children struggle over
self, and now you can turn it on and off. the cash register in the dramatic play
Or Marco, you used to want to keep all area, help them think through what the
the cars just for yourself, and now youre options are that would allow everyone
sharing them with Ben and Jorge. You fig- to playsetting a timer, having an extra
ured out how you could all play with the cash box for a second register, making
cars together. one person the manager who can help
when there is a problem at the cash
Give specific feedback to children register, and so on.
about their efforts. This shows that
adults notice and appreciate their hard


2.0 Self-Regulation

P reschool children work hard to man-

age their attention, feelings, impulses,
and thoughts. They seek to cooperate
task, cooperate with adults and peers,
and express their strong feelings in ways
that do not hurt others. Even young chil-
with others, manage their upset feelings, dren who are sometimes able to do these
and participate in classroom routines and things will probably not manage them
transitions, but they need ongoing adult independently all the time, but they will
support for their efforts.30, 31 Preschool be more capable of self-regulation given
children differ significantly in their abili- adult guidance and support.
ties to pay attention in a group, finish a

Vignette Ms. Caitlin stumbles in the play yard while carrying a tray of bowls
containing acorns, leaf pods, pinecones, and leaves. The items spill
across the ground. She describes the accident: Oh, no! I just sorted
all of these, and now it looks like Ill have to do it all over again! Its
so frustrating when things like this happen. She sighs and takes a
deep breath. Well, I guess Ill start with the acorns. It shouldnt take
too long. Several children nearby offer to help and begin to pick up
and sort the items. Teachers and children all work together for a few
minutes, picking through the grass and sharing with each other about
how many of each item they have found. When all the natural play
materials have been sorted back into their bowls, Ms. Caitlin thanks
the children and comments on how fast the job went with so many
people helping.

Teachable In this situation the teacher models self-talk to turn an upset-

moment ting situation into a teachable moment about constructive
emotional coping strategies. She describes the accident and
expresses her feelings about it. She continues by modeling a
constructive course of action to remedy the situation. The chil-
dren nearby respond by starting to help pick up the various
items (displaying empathy and caring). At the end of the job,
she concludes the impromptu lesson by thanking her helpers
and commenting on how much faster a job goes when so many
people work together (generalizing from action to principle).


The following interactions and strate-

gies can support childrens growth in Research Highlight
self-regulation skills:
Self-regulation is important to school
Use appropriately stimulating aesthe
tic elements such as soothing colors, readiness and early school success. One
natural woods and fibers, and soft tex- of the most important indicators of self-
tures. When children feel calm and com- regulation is a young childs ability to pay
fortable, they constructively interact with attention in the classroom. In one recent
adults, peers, and learning materials. study, researchers combined the results
Neutral walls and furniture should fade of several large-scale, long-term studies
into the background so that children of children beginning from the preschool
can focus on their work. Visual clutter years and continuing well into school.
should be avoided as much as possible. They were interested in the qualities of
preschoolers that best predicted how
Eliminate or reduce background noise
well they would do on school-age math
to help children with learning disabili-
and reading tests. The researchers found
ties, speech and language impairments,
and hearing impairments attend to audi- that early skill in math and reading was
tory input. Reducing background noise important to later success in these areas,
helps all children, including English of course. Beyond this, however, they also
learners, focus more readily on oral lan- found that differences in self-regulation,
guage as conversations take place near particularly in attention, were important
them while they are playing. For more in later school success. Children who con-
information about strategies to support centrated and listened attentively to the
children who are English learners, see teacher as preschoolers and who were
Chapter 5. less impulsive and distractible achieved
higher scores on math and reading tests
Observe individual children closely,
after entering school.32
especially as they interact with peers,
encounter frustration, and are asked
to cooperate with adult requests and
teachers can intentionally model desired
group routines. Observing each child
behavior for them. Adults model appropri-
individually will help identify where that
ate concern for others well-being by com-
child needs the most adult support for
municating with children in a respect-
learning (e.g., can the child maintain
ful way and treating them the way they
attention during group activities, show
would like children to treat each other.
understanding of classroom routines,
They can model enthusiasm for persisting
use language to express emotions, play
at a task until finishing it by sharing their
cooperatively and negotiate disagree
thoughts while working alongside chil-
ments with peers, ask for help when
dren (e.g., Its taking a long time to finish
this puzzle, but when we figure out how
Model behavior and attitudes toward to fit in the last five pieces, well get to see
others as an effective way of teaching the whole picture). Finally, adults can
self-regulatory skills. Because young model emotional self-control by express-
children closely observe and imitate ing their own feelings constructively when
the behavior of adults they care about, encountering a problem.


Maintain developmentally appropriate their expectations, energy, and activity.

expectations for preschool childrens Be flexible enough to follow childrens
behavior. Make allowance for childrens emerging interests and allow them to fin-
relatively limited capacity to sit and ish projects when possible. Adults can
maintain focused attention by planning prepare children ahead of time for occa-
brief large-group activities and longer sional major changes in the daily routine
periods of self-initiated activity. Help in order to prevent unease and off-task
children to manage complex tasks (e.g., behavior (e.g., Today we are walking to
getting ready to go outside in the rain) by the fire station before we eat snack. Usu-
breaking them down into simpler steps. ally we go outside after snack, but today
Ensure that expectations for emotional we are doing something different). Many
self-control and behavioral control are children appreciate having the schedule
appropriate for the childs age or devel- in picture format, so they can indepen-
opmental level. Supplying plenty of play dently check the schedule themselves.
materials decreases excessive frustration Taking pictures of the children them-
and increases on-task exploration. selves engaged in the various activities
can be a fun way of making the schedule.
Guide and coach childrens behavior
Then, when there is a change, a new pic-
by using positive, respectful phrasing
ture, such as one of a fire truck, can be
and tone to prompt problem solving and
put in place as a reminder of the change.
to give brief instructions and remind-
ers: Can you start by telling Jonah
why youre so angry? Then we can work
together on solving the problem, or
Since lunch will come soon, its almost
time to clean up our room and wash our
hands so well be ready to eat.
Reinforce childrens good choices
and link their actions to positive out-
comes. Express pleasure and acknowl-
edge childrens efforts when children
handle situations in mature ways. Draw
attention to specific ways a childs behav-
ior made an experience successful: I
know you really wanted to share your
story right away, but you waited patiently
during Angelas turn. She was so happy
to get to tell us about her papa.
Provide a consistent but flexible daily Alternate between active and quiet
routine. A consistent daily routine facili- activities. Guiding children through
tates childrens trust and focus on the appropriately varied levels of stimula-
learning environment. This consistency tion encourages self-regulation. It leads
helps English learners predict the day to more positive behavior and increases
and navigate through it. When children childrens ability to fully engage with
can anticipate what comes now, next, their learning environment, peers, and
and later, they are better able to regulate teachers.


Time group experiences to match retreat from group participation. Teach-

childrens developing attention spans, ers can make private spaces inviting by
social skills, and self-control. Attend- including comfortable pillows, blankets,
ing to a group experience can be difficult stuffed toys, and a small table for the
for young children. Group experiences child who would like to engage in an
should be briefbetween 10 and 15 activity on his own.
minutes and, in some instances, up to
Plan developmentally appropriate
20minutesdepending on childrens
transitions. Transitions can cause a
ages, understanding of the English
typically positive classroom climate to
language, past experiences, and levels
unravel as activity and intensity levels
of functioning. Ignoring a groups need
increase. Teachers can plan transitional
for a transition can lead to more dis-
activities to maximize focus and encour-
ruptive behavior and a general lack of
age constructive participation. Songs,
cooperation (e.g., a teachers insistence
visual prompts, and key phrases in
on finishing a book during a large-group
childrens home languages remind chil-
story time despite childrens restlessness
dren of what is currently occurring, what
may cause more problem behavior and
the childs responsibility is during the
work against learning goals). For more
changeover, and what a child can do to
information about strategies to support
help self-regulate through the transition.
children who are English learners, see
For example, an adult may lead a group
Chapter 5.
of children in singing a clean-up song
Introduce children to relaxation throughout the time they spend pick-
exercises. Stretching and relaxation ing up and reshelving toys and materials
exercises assist children in self-reflection together. Transitions should be kept to
and build self-regulation skills. Teach- a minimum.
ers can use calming activities informally
Play games with rules periodically to
as well as during group experiences and
help children learn to focus their atten-
program transitions. An adult can soothe
tion and regulate their impulses in order
a frustrated child by drawing attention
to achieve a goal. Small, organized groups
to the bodys response to stress: You
are easiest for preschool children to
look really upset! Your face is red and
manage. Simple bingo games, matching
tense. Can you feel how fast your heart is
games, or active games in the play yard
beating? Then guide the child through a
such as Red Light, Green Light or Simon
deep-breathing exercise and comment on
Says encourage children to pay close
its effects. Initiate a brief group stretch-
attention and to practice pausing first
ing and relaxation exercise between
instead of acting impulsively. Turn-taking
active and quiet routines to help prepare
in pairs or small groups encourages coop-
children for more focused exploration.
eration. Providing visual cues (e.g., point-
Prepare private spaces for children. ing to a picture of a traffic signal or using
The sounds of active learning can be loud gestures in coordination with Simon
and, at times, overstimulating. In these Says), in addition to auditory prompts,
and other situations, many children need helps all children participate in games
private spaces where they can find a with success.


3.0 Social and Emotional Understanding

P reschool children are beginning to

understand how people are similar to
and different from one another, not only
culture are important.33, 34 Young children
are curious about these differences, and
teachers help them learn and accept how
in the ways they can observe directly, peoples feelings, thoughts, and behavior
such as appearance and skills, but also are related. Teachers share and discuss
in ways that they cannot observe directly, everyday events. Teachers can also help
such as thoughts and personality. They preschool children better understand
are learning that people vary in their their own feelings, personality, and other
ideas, feelings, and perspectives and social and emotional characteristics.35, 36
that differences in personality and

VIgNETTE Myesha watches Linh being comforted by her caregiver. She goes over
to Mr. Kyle sitting at a table, puts a hand on his shoulder, and sug-
gests, Linh was crying because she thought her mommy wasnt com-
ing. Mr. Kyle nods his head gently and replies, I noticed that, too. Do
you remember when preschool was over and you were the last one
waiting for your mom? You cried because you were worried that she
wouldnt come to pick you up. I think Linh was feeling the same way.

TEAChAbLE In this situation, the adult facilitates social and emotional

MOMENT understanding by using the childs observations of a peers
emotional experience to explore the causes of feelings, to explore
similarities in emotional response, and to introduce complex
emotion vocabulary.

Tien watched carefully as Romo interacted with Ms. West, his teacher.
After Romo walked away, Tien said How do you know how to talk to
Romo? He talks funny. Ms. West explained, Romo talks differently
than you do because he hears differently. When Romo talks to me,
I watch carefully and sometimes he points to things to make it more
clear. When you dont understand him, maybe you could ask him to
show you. He is playing with the farm animals now. Would you like to
join him?

TEAChAbLE The teacher responded to a question from a child who noticed a

MOMENT difference in Romos mode of communication by explaining how
Romo communicated and inviting the child to use the informa-
tion. By providing information and inviting the child to pursue
interaction, the teacher was supporting social understanding
while responding to an underlying emotional concern.



The following interactions and strate- school children that people can mask
gies can help children grow in their social their feelings and that the emotion shown
and emotional understanding: may be different from the one a person
really feels (e.g., I know you are afraid of
Observe the levels of social and emo-
big dogs, but when Peters dad brought
tional understanding that children
his dog to visit today you acted very calm
already have when they begin preschool.
and brave. That must have been hard).
For teachers, the most helpful observa-
Introduce more complex emotion vocabu-
tions of childrens understandings are
lary in their conversations with chil-
made in the course of typical daily activi-
dren (e.g., anxious, delighted, cautious,
ties. Teachers will want to note whether
a child is able to label, in any language,
a range of emotions expressed by self
and others; notices and indicates curios-
ity about physical differences between
people; is able to describe some personal-
ity characteristics of others (e.g., friendly,
timid, grumpy); and can sometimes
accurately describe the reasons behind
someones emotion-driven behavior (e.g.,
crying when missing a parent). See the
Research Highlight, below.
Label the emotions people express
and communicate with children about
what may be provoking those feelings.
Discuss causes and consequences
(e.g., what often makes people sad, angry,
or excited). Acknowledge with older pre-

Research Highlight

Early social and emotional understanding helps children get along better with other children
and teachers in school, but how important is it for school success? This question was explored
in a study of young children who were tested on a simple measure of their emotion knowl-
edge (e.g., understanding when someone is surprised or angry) at age five, and then measures
of their social behavior and academic achievement were obtained at age nine. The measure
of emotion knowledge asked five-year-olds to match emotion labels to facial expressions of
emotions. The researchers found that childrens performance on this task was significantly
associated with their social skills and academic achievement at age nine. Children who had
greater emotion knowledge had more positive social skills, showed fewer behavior problems,
and had higher academic achievementperhaps because of how their emotion skills (e.g.,
ability to deal with frustration) enabled children to get along better with others in ways that
encouraged academic as well as social success.37



Generalize from specific examples to engine and fights fires just like they do.
broader realities, when appropriate, to Mrs. K in the office uses a white cane to
help children understand psychological find her way around our school. It helps
complexities and emotional processes her to know where she is and keeps her
they cannot observe directly. David from bumping into things. Seek books,
gets upset whenever you come near his tell stories, and display pictures that rep-
block buildings because you used to try resent a wide variety of people engaging
to knock them down. When you have in activities familiar to the children.
been unkind to someone over and over,
Make use of the experiences and
it takes a long time for him to trust that
emotions of characters in stories to
you will be kind now, or Aya does cry
provide additional examples of ideas and
every morning when her papa leaves. She
feelings that lead to actions, as well as
has never been to school before, and she
the fact that people can see things from
doesnt know us very well yet. Sometimes
different perspectives. Read interactively,
it takes people a long time to feel comfort-
asking children questions and wondering
able in a new place.
together about how a character will feel.
Discuss characteristics openly while Near the end of the picture book Were
expressing interest in, and appreciation Going on a Bear Hunt, by Helen Oxen-
for, differences. Answer childrens ques- bury, the family tiptoes into a cave, not
tions about physical characteristics, knowing what they will find. The readers
abilities, and different cultural practices can identify the waiting bear about to be
with information or find out the answer encountered. We know theres a bear
together. Listen to children and counter- because the picture shows us, the adult
act stereotypes expressed by using con- reader can say to a group of listening
crete examples whenever possible. For children. Does the family know yet?
example: Yes, all the firefighters in that How do you think they will feel when
truck were men, but my neighbor, Sarah, they discover him?
is a firefighter, too. She drives a fire



4.0 Empathy and Caring

P reschool children respond with con-

cern when a child or adult is dis-
tressed. Children may be confused about
done.38, 39 Teachers can help them under-
stand why another person is upset and
what the child can do to help. Teachers
why another child is upset, how he or can also encourage children to respond
she will be affected, and what can be helpfully to the needs of other children.

Vignette Chloe cries in Ms. Julias arms. Ms. Julia pats her back softly and
communicates in a soothing manner. It sounds like that hurt. You can
tell Paz you dont like that. Say, I dont like that, Paz. Chloe tucks
her injured arm in toward Ms. Julias body, shakes her head slowly
side to side, and looks out warily at Paz. Paz stands close with her
head lowered. Chloe is upset because you pinched her arm. It hurt
her quite a bit. Is there something you think we could do to help her
feel better, Paz? asks Ms. Julia.
Paz responds softly, Sorry, Chloe, and reaches forward to give Chloe
a hug.
Chloe whimpers and clings more closely to Ms. Julia. When a friend
is hurt, giving a hug often helps. I guess Chloe isnt ready for a hug
right now. Thank you for trying, Paz. Maybe we can ask her again

Teachable The adult in this scenario models empathy as she provides

moment nurturing care to the injured child. She labels emotions and
prompts a helpful action. Despite the injured childs lack of
interest in a hug, the adult expresses appreciation for the
thoughtful attempt.

The following interactions and strat- friend). Show children consideration of

egies encourage and focus childrens their needs when planning activities
empathic responses: (e.g., You all seem tired on this hot day.
Lets take time for water and then a story
Model behavior and attitudes that are
so you can relax before we go on with our
warm, respectful, and caring. Give your
full attention to a child who is commu-
nicating with you and show your inter- Label childrens feelings of upset, sad-
est in the childs perspective. Show your ness, and other emotions that convey
concern when the child is distressed and distress. Children often still need adults
respond in helpful ways. Suggest that to describe a situation, including the
another child help, if appropriate (e.g., incident or action that prompted dis-
bringing a cup of water for a coughing tress, and to emphasize the link between



causes and consequences (e.g., You told

her that she couldnt play with you, and
she is upset about that).
Prompt and guide desired behavior.
Adults can help younger children learn
appropriate responses by suggesting
specific, caring actions that may help
another child in distress (e.g., She seems
very frustrated that she cant move her
wheelchair through the hallway because
of the backpacks that are on the floor.
Could you move them for her?). Adults
can also suggest specific, caring actions
to help children engage with and include
English learners in their play. Read and tell stories that include
characters in distress as well as the
Acknowledge and express appreciation
caring responses of others. While read-
for childrens empathic responses by
ing The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret
drawing their attention to specific ways
Wise Brown, for example, draw childrens
their actions helped and providing them
attention to the many ways the mother
with a general principle that they can
bunny shows her care and concern for
remember in future, similar situations
her child. Encourage children to tell
(e.g., When a friend is sad, giving a hug
about how people in their own families
often helps, or When someone gets
show their care for each other.
hurt, its important to find an adult to
help right away). Encourage empathy and caring for the
natural world, including plants and
Participate in and elaborate on
animals. Program activities that involve
childrens pretend-play scripts that
nurturing plants and taking care of pets
include rescue and caring themes.
and outdoor life provide opportunities for
Oh, no! It looks like one diver is injured.
the expression of empathy and care.
Should I call 911? What else can we do to
help her while were waiting for the res-
cue boat?



5.0 Initiative in Learning

P reschool children are active, enthu-

siastic learners who take pleasure in
the ability to discover new things. They
their own ideas, ask questions, or take
the lead in investigating a new discov-
ery and when they respond positively to
have confidence in their capacity to learn childrens eagerness. Teachers are also
more and acquire new skills.40 Teachers helpful in encouraging young children
support young childrens learning initia- to persist rather than give up when they
tive when they invite children to share encounter challenges.41, 42

VIgNETTE Mr. Manuel watches Taiga build a structure with blocks. He smiles
as he manages to finish an elaborate wall. As Taiga moves to add a
piece to the tall tower, he knocks down the foundation. He drops to his
knees and slumps his shoulders. Mr. Manuel moves closer to Taiga
and responds with an enthusiastic smile. Wow, Taiga! This is a big
tower! (gesturing with his arms). When you stacked the pieces that
way (points to the broken section), they seemed a little shaky (moves
his hand, palm face down, side to side). Is there something more sta-
ble you could find to use this time (points to flatter blocks)?

TEAChAbLE Adults who observe childrens interests and needs indivi-

MOMENT dualize their support to build confidence and encourage
persistence. The teacher in this example notices a childs
exploration and sees an opportunity to promote problem
solving. His obvious enthusiasm communicates respect and
interest in the childs activity of choice and can do much
to encourage persistence. By including physical gestures
along with words, adults give English learners a deeper
understanding of language as children participate in and
observe this teacher-child interaction. For more information
about strategies to support children who are English learners,
see Chapter 5.

The following interactions and strate- sit at the table in a wheelchair, reach a
gies can encourage childrens initiative in sink to wash hands without assistance,
learning: or collect materials for play. Children
Provide ample space, use child-sized are better able to engage in small-
shelves and furnishings, and adapt muscle activities when their feet can
materials to make all learning areas reach the floor or are flat on a surface
and activities accessible. Childrens while seated. Accommodations must be
sense of efficacy is enhanced when they made to ensure all childrens successful
are able to seat themselves in a chair or movement and autonomous exploration



of the early learning environment, partic- something intentionally if they have lost
ularly children with special needs. Create interest in an initial activity. Ensure
wide pathways and remove obstructions that classroom materials are attractively
so that all children have access to all play labeled and accessible, and furnishings
spaces (e.g., for a child who has limited are child-sized. In this way, children can
arm movement, toys of interest can be make choices without requiring adult
placed on lower shelves). assistance.
Make use of adaptive tools and play Engage in play and exploration with
materials to help the autonomous children instead of simply supervising
exploration of children with special their activities. Adults who are at the
needs. Include tactile activities for chil- childs eye level and engaged with
dren with visual impairments. Modify children can help give language to
classroom tools by adding handles or shared discoveries (e.g., The cars seem
grips for children with orthopedic impair- to be zooming down these two ramps
ments. Specially made communication at different speeds. I wonder why),
books in the languages of the children question together how something works,
in the classroom make possible plans for and build on each others ideas. A
play for children with autism spectrum teachers active presence models a
disorders. spirit of inquisitiveness.
Observe individual children while
they pursue their own activities to
determine the childs general level of
engagement with classroom activities and
materials; the amount of curiosity and
enthusiasm a child usually displays; the
childs level of self-confidence in abilities;
and the amount of persistence the child
shows when trying something difficult.
Model curiosity and enthusiasm when
you learn new things. Attitudes are
contagious, and children will be drawn
to imitate an adults spirit of exploration
and pleasure in making discoveries.
This is especially important to model for Provide ample time for free explora
children who may not previously have tion, scheduling play and exploration
been given the message that individual periods of at least one uninterrupted
experimentation is a valuable means of hour at a time. A childs initiative as
learning. a learner is encouraged when teachers
Encourage children to choose activities provide sufficient time for in-depth
based on their own interests. Asking experimentation and exploration.
children periodically about their plans Additional time for open-ended play
reinforces the idea that they have the should be included throughout the day,
power to make their own choices and in both indoor and outdoor learning
can help them to refocus on pursuing environments.



Help children generate ideas for Document and display childrens work.
solving problems they encounter as Pictures of unique explorations, original
they use materials (e.g., balancing blocks, projects, and dictated stories posted at
dressing dolls, fastening together collage childrens eye level positively influence
materials). Express enthusiasm for a childs sense of self as she sees herself
childrens ideas and encourage them to and her creations reflected in the envi
try solutions rather than tell them that ronment. These displays also remind
an idea will not work. children of previous investigations and
inspire them to take part in new explora-
Model persistence during challenging
tasks such as writing a sign, building
a marble track, or stringing small Periodically reassess the preschool
beads. Express to children that their environment to ensure that the materi-
unsuccessful attempts to do something als and activity choices support the
are not failures, but simply steps toward abilities and reflect the interests of all
learning what will work (e.g., When children in the group. A curriculum
you balanced the pieces that way, and environment that reflect childrens
they seemed a little unsteady. Is there emerging interests will maintain their
something more stable you can use as engagement and eagerness to learn.
the foundation this time?).



Bringing It All Together

Yoon Seo ran around the block area him know what seems to help him feel
swinging one arm wildly up and down better as a point of reference for the next
and making loud crashing sounds time he begins to feel overstimulated.
with his voice. All around him, small
groups of children were noisily at play. Engaging Families
His teacher, Ms. Gloria, watched Yoon
Seo carefully to see if his behavior
would decrease on its own or increase T he following ideas may be suggested
by teachers, published in classroom
newsletters, or mentioned in parent
in intensity. When it was clear that
Yoon Seo was becoming more and teacher conversations, as ways families
more agitated in his surroundings, can enhance their childrens social and
Ms. Gloria walked over slowly and emotional understanding and self-regula-
put a gentle hand on his back. Yoon tion abilities at home.
Seo, you look really excited. Its pretty Share stories with their children about
busy over here. He continued to move what they were like as babies and
around haphazardly and did not seem converse together about the ways they
to notice Ms. Glorias comment. I know have changed and grown.
its sometimes hard to play in our busy
Respond to childrens observations of
classroom. Lets go take a rest together
other peoples characteristics by shar-
in the book area where we can look at
ing ideas about the many ways people
books, and you can snuggle with your
can be the same and different.
special blanket.
In circumstances that evoke frustra-
Ms. Gloria and Yoon Seo spent several
tion or sadness (e.g., accidentally
minutes in the book area looking at
spilling something in the kitchen,
books while Yoon Seo held his special
missing an absent family member),
blanket up to his cheek. When Yoon
model for children constructive coping
Seo appeared relaxed and focused, Ms.
strategies. Letting children know that
Gloria said, Sometimes we all need a
frustrating and sad things happen
little rest to feel better. When the room
to everyone sometimes allows family
gets too noisy for me, I go to the play
members to share ideas about how to
dough table. It looks like play dough
handle strong feelings.
and your blanket help you feel better.
While sharing a storybook with chil-
dren, wonder together about how the
The strategies described above had
storys characters might be feeling and
been planned for Yoon Seo, but similar
why. This is one way families can help
techniques can help many preschool chil-
children identify emotions and learn
dren. In this situation, Ms. Gloria recog-
words that describe them (e.g., excited,
nizes that Yoon Seo is overstimulated by
surprised, and frustrated).
his environment and works to help him
attend to his personal cues and prefer- Think about the range of activities
ences. Her interaction style is warm and their children engage in most days
reassuring and helps maintain a positive and help them balance vigorous activ-
sense of self for Yoon Seo. She also lets ity with calm and focused times.


Questions for Reflection

1. What aspects of your program are most likely to present
self-regulation challenges to children? What could you modify
to help children with these challenges?
2. What elements of your programs physical environment have you
changed or could you change to help children regulate their own
behavior more successfully?
3. How do you communicate information about behavior to childrens
families in ways that help all of you work together to support
childrens self-regulation?


Social Interaction

roup learning always involves social interaction. The ease and skill
with which children interact with adults and peers (in a preschool
classroom or family child care program) and the competence with
which they assume their roles and responsibilities as group members
significantly influence how they learn. The development of these skills in
the preschool years is a foundation for childrens capacity to be socially
skilled and competent classroom members in the primary grades.43, 44 For
some children, unfortunately, difficulties in social interactionbecause
children are timid and inhibited, are aggressive or disruptive, struggle
with being cooperative, or have physical or behavioral characteristics
that often result in them being excludedcan pose significant obstacles
to benefiting from social interactions with adults and peers. For them
and for all children, attention to social interaction skills can be a signi
ficant contribution to preschool childrens learning in early childhood
A thoughtfully designed preschool curriculum that supports social-
emotional development devotes considerable attention, therefore, to the
direct and indirect ways that classroom experiences shape the growth of
childrens social interaction skills. In this section,
specific strategies are discussed that support
development in each of the following
1.0 Interactions with Familiar
2.0 Interactions with Peers
3.0 Group Participation
4.0 Cooperation and


1.0 Interactions with Familiar Adults

P reschool children enjoy interacting

with adults they know and are
becoming more skilled in sharing their
respond positively and enthusiastically
to childrens initiatives, model respectful
communication and social interaction
thoughts or feelings, cooperating in play skills, coach children in their interactions
or problem solving, following instructions, with other adults, and encourage
asking for assistance, and taking the children to confidently share their ideas
initiative in social interaction.45, 46 Adults and experiences with adults.
contribute to these skills when they

VIgNETTE Ju-Hye paints her palms and fingers with a rainbow of colors. With
focused concentration, she slowly pushes her palm onto a piece of
paper where she has already painted a stem. She lifts up her hand
quickly. Ju-Hye smiles widely and then picks up her paper to show
Ms. Betty, who is playing on the floor with two babies. Ms. Betty looks
up and responds with a grin: You finished your flower. You worked
hard at mixing colors to make the color of green you wanted for your
Abigail moved to the raised sand table in her wheelchair. Using her
left hand to stabilize her right hand, she filled cups with wet sand and
carefully dumped them. When her teacher approached, Abigail said,
Look at my cupcakes. The teacher responded, I watched how hard
you worked to make those cupcakes. They look yummy.

TEAChAbLE Children want to share their work with adults who are impor-
MOMENT tant to them. In this situation, the caregiver matches the
childs positive expression to convey shared excitement about
the completed activity. She provides additional descriptive
feedback as an affirmation of the childs important work.

The following teacher interactions and childs social cues (e.g., eager to engage,
strategies can support childrens partici- slower to warm up). For more informa-
pation in comfortable and positive inter- tion about strategies to support children
actions with familiar adults: who are English learners, see Chapter 5.
Get to know each child by observing Be at the childs level as much as
the childs interests, personality charac- possible by sitting in a low chair or on
teristics, and preferred interaction style. the floor near where she is engaged in
Interact warmly with the childs family activity. This sends the message that the
members at arrival and departure times. teacher is interested in what the child is
Match interaction approaches to the doing and is available to participate or



help. This is also important to do when edging a specific effort allows a teacher
outside. Finding comfortable places to to avoid making broad statements that
perch while interacting with children imply judgment of the childs worth based
outside can enhance the childrens social on a product or behavior (e.g., Try You
interactions with adults. worked hard at blending colors to make
exactly the shade of green you wanted for
Initiate conversations with children
your painting, rather than You painted
about their activities and experiences
such a pretty picture).
at home and in the classroom. Respond
with interest or information to childrens Show respect for cultural differences
comments and questions. Taking oppor- in your expectations of adultchild
tunities to engage in conversation about communication. Teachers and caregivers
what children are thinking, planning, and must become knowledgeable about the
doing builds their confidence in initiating families in their program and find out
similar conversations in the future. about their expectations and goals. If a
childs culture emphasizes maintaining
Communicate observations, verbally
a respectful distance between teachers
or through other means, and offer
and children, teachers can modify their
comments or questions about childrens
behavior to remain approachable and
explorations. Provide words to clarify,
friendly but not inappropriately casual or
elaborate on, or explain a childs behavior
familiar. Alternatively, if the childs family
and allow the child to respond with affir-
is exceptionally affectionate and physi-
mation, correction, or clarification.
cal with one another, the teacher can be
Provide specific feedback to children warm yet maintain a comfortable bound-
about their efforts instead of general ary with the child while acknowledging
words of praise (e.g., Good job). Adults the difference (e.g., I know you and your
reactions are important affirmations of Uma grandma like to give each other lots
support for childrens hard work, coop- of kisses. I like to get just one kiss from
eration, and problem solving. Acknowl- you).
Encourage children to see familiar
adults as resources and become com-
fortable in asking regular volunteers and
assistants for help and support when
needed. Teachers may coach and accom-
pany more hesitant children as they
practice approaching other adult helpers
and guests (e.g., It looks like you have a
question for our guest reader. Would you
like me to come with you to ask it?).



2.0 Interactions with Peers

P reschoolers enjoy interacting with

other children and are rapidly devel-
oping the skills to socialize cooperatively,
ance is necessary to support constructive
social interactions and help children find
ways of managing disagreements. Adults
negotiate conflict, and respect the feel- also encourage the development of peer
ings of another child. Their interactions interaction skills by helping children
become longer and more complex, with understand the feelings of other children,
greater sharing and mutual communica- suggesting and modeling interaction
tion.47, 48 This development can be seen skills, such as turn-taking, encouraging
especially in pretend play. These abili- the use of words when disagreements
ties are limited, however, especially when arise, and reinforcing cooperative efforts.
children are in conflict; thus adult guid-

Vignette Myrna and Emma sort through dresses in a trunk in the dramatic play
area. They dig deep into the pile, tossing aside unwanted costumes.
Then, their eyes open wide as they both reach for the pale blue
princess dress.
I want to wear it. Im the princess, shouts Myrna with furrowed
Emma tugs back and says, No! I want it. Its mine! The tugging and
shouting continues to increase in intensity when Mr. Charlie notices
the struggle and walks over to mediate. Mr. Charlie gets down and
kneels between the two girls.
Myrna, you look upset. And Emma, you look mad too! Whats
I want to wear the princess dress. Im the princ exclaims Myrna.
Im the princess! interrupts Emma.
It sounds like you both want to wear that dress. You both want to be
the princess. We have a problem. I can hold the dress while we think
of what to do. The two girls slowly let go of the dress and lower their
I know. I can have a turn and then Myrna can have it, says Emma,
popping her head up with bright eyes.
I want to be first, Myrna responds with a small scowl.
You both want to go first. Hmm . . . lets see if we can think of another
idea, wonders Mr. Charlie.
She can wear this one, says Myrna, holding up a purple dress.
Emma looks at the dress and shakes her head. Ill wear the blue
dress, and you can have it in five minutes, offers Emma, holding up
five fingers.



What do you think, Myrna? Emma says she would like to wear the
dress for five minutes, and then you may have a turn.
Myrna folds her arms in front of her chest, sighs, and then nods her
head slowly. Five minutes, she says firmly.

Teachable Children with positive experiences in conflict resolution

moment approach such situations with attention and persistence.
With practice they are quite capable of offering and agreeing
upon solutions. In this situation, Mr. Charlie sees an
opportunity to guide children through effective problem-
solving techniques. He provides calm support and patience
as both children assert their ideas for a reasonable solution.
The above example describes children who readily verbalize
their emotions. Some children will communicate their strong
emotional reactions in other ways. Teachers should be alert
to different cues expressed by different children in order to
support skill development in this area.

The following teacher interactions and whether a child can initiate or enter into
strategies can support children as they play with another child; work with others
learn and refine their skills in interacting to accomplish a simple, shared goal (e.g.,
with peers: putting together a puzzle, dividing play
dough so that each person has some);
Observe the level of social interaction
communicate with others in acting out a
skills that each child brings to the
complex pretend-play script (e.g., going
group. Social skills will vary across the
on a trip with a family, including assign-
preschool age range, depending partially
ing and playing family roles); negotiate
on the amount and type of experience
with another child to resolve a conflict
with peers that children have encoun-
about play materials or behaviors; and
tered prior to preschool. Note especially
ask for and respond to adult coaching in
resolving peer disputes and practicing
new social skills with peers. Young chil-
dren with developmental differences or
younger children in a mixed-age setting
may need additional support and teach-
ing to develop these initial skills with
other children.
Model effective and respectful inter
action by joining pairs or groups of
children as they play and work together.
Follow the childrens cues about your
participation. Teachers can thoughtfully



partner English learners with English- discussion of friendship and inclusion.

speaking peers to help scaffold social Think of encouraging peer play while
interactions and English-language outside as well. A child who is less able
development. Be an interested observer to move quickly or ride the wheeled toys
or play supporting roles in pretend-play can be the person who takes the toll pay-
sequences or constructive play projects ment at the bridge or pumps gas at the
(e.g., You are discussing the animals pit stops.
that will live in the zoo youre building.
Suggest extensions for childrens
How are you deciding which ones to
cooperative play to add complexity
choose? or, Yes, I could be your new
to their interactions and negotiations.
next-door-neighbor. Shall I ask if your
Teachers can stay nearby to support
family needs any help moving in?). For
them as they practice more complex
a child who is still learning this skill,
problem solving together.
the teacher can provide more explicit
cues and guided interactions (e.g., You
are looking at the truck Pedro is holding
and reaching for it. Why dont you ask
Pedro Can I play with that truck? Colby
reaches for the truck saying, My play wif
truck? Pedro hands the truck to Colby
and gets a different truck from the shelf
for himself. Pedro, Colby really looks
happy that you gave him the truck. That
is great sharing). For more information
about strategies to support children who
are English learners, see Chapter 5.
Verbalize observations. Provide lan-
guage to describe childrens actions, Coach young children, step by step,
feelings, and responses observed dur- as they learn conflict resolution skills.
ing play. Be especially sensitive to doing Model a predictable, effective sequence
this for children who may find it hard to of steps children can eventually use on
speak for themselves in a group situation their own: acknowledge feelings, gather
(e.g., It looks like you are all slithering information about the conflict, restate
around like crocodiles. I notice Marcos the problem, ask children to suggest pos-
is standing here watching you. Marcos, sible solutions, help them choose one to
would you like to be a crocodile, too?). try, and then check back with them soon
Incorporate play materials that pro- after as they implement their solution. As
mote and encourage peer play. It is a they mature and practice, gradually step
good idea to include indoor and outdoor back and take a less central role in solv-
materials, such as large wooden blocks ing problems, prompting children if they
or heavy loose parts (e.g., tree cookies, get stuck on the path to resolution.
small logs) that require the effort and After they do resolve a conflict, briefly
cooperation of a pair of children. Pur- summarize the ways children solved the
posefully planning a birthday party problem successfully. This reinforces
in the dramatic play area brings about childrens skills for the next time a



problem arises. See Sample Developmen- with each other to be successful. You
tal Sequence: Conflict Negotiation, below. two both wanted the big blue tricycle,
so you told each other that and worked
Generalize from actions to principles
out a plan to take turns for three min-
to increase childrens understanding of
utes each. Sharing ideas with each other
the things that helped their interactions
about problems helps us solve those
Sample Developmental Sequence
Use books, puppet stories, and group
Conflict Negotiation discussions to reinforce childrens social
interaction skills. Select materials and
As children mature, they are able to topics that relate to what children in the
better understand the perspectives of group are encountering frequently in
other people and can negotiate more their interactive play or skills they are
constructively with peers to resolve struggling to master.
Beginning level: Children can express
to each other (using words, actions, or
facial expressions) their own desires, but
adults need to provide ideas for resolving
Next level: Children begin to use appro-
priate words and actions to express their
perspectives and desires to each other
and seek adults for help during disputes.
Next level: Children not only express
their own needs and desires to each Plan for project work, based on
other during a conflict but can suggest childrens emerging interests, in pairs
simple solutions based on their own per- and small groups. During projects,
spectives. children can explore materials together,
collaborate to solve problems they
Mature or proficient level: Children can encounter, and communicate with each
consider each others perspectives when other as they work. Adults can facilitate
there is a disagreement and can suggest the interactions, using language and
and agree on some mutually acceptable techniques that match the needs and
solutions. abilities of the children.



3.0 Group Participation

P reschool children enjoy being part of

the classroom and are learning the
roles and responsibilities of group par-
and understanding and applying rules for
classroom behavior.49 These skills require
considerable self-regulation, which is
ticipation. These include taking turns, why preschool children benefit when
sharing, participating in group activities, adults provide guidance and coaching,
taking other childrens interests into con- offer reminders about expected behavior,
sideration, knowing what to do during explain why things are done the way they
group routines (e.g., circle time) or games are, reinforce constructive conduct, and
(such as Follow the Leader), helping to use prompts, such as songs or games, to
prepare for and clean up after activities, support effective group participation.

VIgNETTE Ms. Luisa gathers a small group of children outside for an activity.
Okay, everybody. To make a really large bubble that covers Claire,
we all have to work together to lift the hula hoop up around her.
Do you we think can do it? The children respond with excitement,
Yeah! Ms. Luisa smiles and continues, Well, how will we all know
when to lift? Does anybody have an idea? Its really important that
we all start at the same time.
Noah asserts, I know. We can count like a rocket ship.
You mean a countdown? We could say, ten, nine, eight, seven, six,
five, four, three, two, one and then lift? clarifies Ms. Luisa.
Yeah! Like a rocket ship! agrees Erika.
Do you all want to try Noahs idea? asks Ms. Luisa. The children
eagerly agree, and Ms. Luisa leads them in a countdown. On cue,
they lift together to surround Claire in a large bubble. Claire smiles
Shayna exclaims, Its working!
Meera adds, We did it!
Ms. Luisa applauds the group. It did work. Noah, your idea helped
everybody make a giant bubble around Claire. We all make a really
good team!

TEAChAbLE In this situation, the adult plans a group-learning experience

MOMENT intended to build cooperation and practice group problem
solving. Through this playful activity, the teacher intentionally
highlights individual and group strengths.



The following teacher interactions and area) where a child can self-regulate away
strategies can support children as they from the group. If the group experiences
learn the challenging skills required of are meaningful and reflective of childrens
them for participation in preschool interests, the children will return to the
groupings: group activity as their bodies and minds
are ready to participate effectively.
Model cooperative behavior and
attitudes. Engage in authentic conver- Guide and coach childrens behavior.
sation with a small group of children. Use positive, respectful phrasing and tone
Use appropriate eye contact and touch to give brief instructions and reminders
with each child. Acknowledge a child (e.g., Jonah, its easier for all our friends
who wants to respond to a book or song. to see the book when you sit down, or
Actively listen and respond to a childs Remember, if you have an idea to share
idea. Participate in the group interaction during circle time, please raise your hand
with enthusiasm, animation, and full first to let us know you want a turn to
attention. share your idea). Quietly suggest an alter-
native activity to a child who is not able to
stay with the group successfully.
Comment on childrens actions: You
are all jumping just like frogs! or I see
that Maddie is trying to find a spot on the
rug where she can jump without being
pushed. Jorge, thank you for making
space for her. Be especially sensitive to
doing this for children who may be less
inclined to speak up for themselves in a
group setting, including children who
are English learners and children with
Plan large-group gatherings with physical disabilities.
flexibility. Get to know each group of
children well enough to learn what they Rehearse and prompt desired responses.
can participate in successfully. Plan for Move to a new activity by reminding the
a group dialogue rather than a teacher group about how to transition into it
monologue while reading a story, singing successfully (e.g., We still have time to
a song, or introducing a concept. Allow sing, Everybody Do This. Lets stay on our
for childrens active participation and carpet squares so we each have enough
be flexible in changing the lesson plan space to move). Sing call-and-response
to follow the groups interest or activity songs, such as Ella Jenkinss collections
level (e.g., when counting together the of traditional African American and
ladybugs on a books page, try to respond Caribbean songs, to practice listening
to, and possibly extend, a childs com- and responding in unison to a leader.
ment about the ladybugs the class found Acknowledge positive choices. When
on the playground yesterday. If children children participate in positive ways
are restless, briefly flying around the during a small- or large-group activity,
circle like ladybugs may also be a helpful comment on what they did that made
activity extension). Provide an alternative the activity successful and draw their
to group participation (e.g., cool-down attention to how it helped (e.g., When we



were exploring the tub of sand at small- specific physical movements. Teachers
group time today, you decided to take can help children to lead group inquiries
turns using the big scoop. That way, based on their experiences and ideas
everyone got a chance to feel how heavy (e.g., When Luis and Kim were weeding
a big scoop of sand would be). our garden, they noticed big holes in
some of the lettuce leaves. Heres one they
Generalize from action to principle.
brought in to show us. What do you think
After commenting on childrens helpful
could have made these holes?).
actions, state the general group goal that
their actions help to accomplish. Children Arrange large-group meeting spaces
can understand that they make positive to enhance planned activities. Choose
contributions to building a classroom a large, open-area meeting space away
community (e.g., During circle time, you from attractive play materials. Sit together
moved over so the children behind you in a circle so each individual has a clear
could see the pictures. In our class, we view of teachers and peers, enabling
take good care of each other). members to attend and respond to verbal
and nonverbal communication, as well
Build a sense of community through
as visual prompts. Carpet squares help
planned group experiences. Large-
young children maintain ample personal
group experiences that are age- and
space and encourage self- and attentional
developmentally appropriate make
control. Children with physical disabilities
an ideal setting in which to establish
or who use special equipment for mobility
community and build shared knowledge.
can maintain the same (or similar) spa
Children learn turn-taking skills and
cing parameters.a
active listening techniques as they
participate in cooperative conversation. Structure small-group activity areas
Build a repertoire of songs and games, to maximize focus. Choose a space that
some of which incorporate childrens is comfortable for work, such as tables
names. Activity props (e.g., parachute, or enclosed carpeted spaces. For younger
large ball) that require teamwork are preschoolers, a consistent meeting space
useful. Dramatize familiar stories (e.g., builds their knowledge of routines,
Caps for Sale, Ten in a Bed) that have enabling them to recall and apply group
roles for everyone and do not require rules and expectations. Older preschool-
advanced English-language skills or ers demonstrate familiarity and flexibility

When the group includes a child who uses a wheelchair,
consideration should be given for finding a way for children
to be at the same level, perhaps through small chairs or
stools for all the children. Sometimes, assigned seating can
help children be in the spaces that will promote their great-
est participation. For example, a child who needs gentle
physical touch from an adult to remain focused can be
placed next to the teacher. A child who is hard of hearing
and needs to see the teachers face can reliably sit directly
across from her. Additionally, attention should be given
to seating for children who are visually impaired or blind
so that they can participate in large-group activities (e.g.,
Claire is very sensitive to glare because of albinism, so she
must sit with the window behind her. Tomas is blind and
sits next to the teacher during circle time, so he can touch
the things she uses during the activity).



with routines. After meeting in their des- in language or cognition. Posted guide-
ignated space, older preschoolers are able lines for group participation (including
to engage wherever the selected materials pictures and symbols) increase shared
are located. understanding. Gestures may be taught
to and used by children to express their
Think through group size and composi-
ideas or choices (e.g., a child may make a
tion. Choose to plan large-group activi-
gesture for more after hearing a favorite
ties (e.g., musical games) with smaller
song). Teachers may also use gestures to
groups of children. Smaller, large-group
communicate expectations for behavior
activities may be more manageable for
(e.g., a teacher makes a gesture for sit
younger preschoolers who are new to
as she says We sit at circle time).
teacher-initiated experiences that require
childrens knowledge of routines and
higher levels of self-control. To form well-
balanced groups, use your knowledge of
individual interests, energy, developmen-
tal age, and emerging friendships. For
more information about strategies to sup-
port children who are English learners,
see Chapter 5.
Prepare materials ahead of time.
Preparing materials in advance of activi-
ties is essential to create high-quality
learning experiences. Books, songs, and
curriculum materials should be inten- Address individual needs through
tionally selected based on observations the use of strategies and tools. Some
of childrens ongoing explorations in children may require extra individual
the classroom. High-quality curriculum assistance to successfully participate in
reflects an awareness of the childs home group experiences. Many strategies were
culture and community. Having ample mentioned earlier. In addition, providing
amounts of materials eliminates waiting something tangible for a child to hold
and ensures the active involvement of all (e.g., a small squeeze toy such as a stress
children. ball or squishy ball) assists children who
Incorporate nonverbal prompts. Non- need something to manipulate with their
verbal prompts, such as props and pic- hands to self-regulate and maintain self-
ture or symbol cues, remind children of control. Real objects that represent items
routines and expectations and can facili- in a book or a song will help the child
tate communication, group participation with a visual impairment successfully
and responsibilities, and event knowl- participate in group experiences. For
edge. Showing a picture of musical notes children who blurt out ideas regularly,
at large-group time may indicate it is time teachers can have a message board ready
to sing. A picture of an ear can illustrate to document the childs ideas for a song
that it is time to listen to a story. Visual to sing or a book to read at another time.
prompts are especially effective in engag- This can help the group stay focused and
ing children who are developing English- reengage a distracted childs behavioral
language skills and children with delays and attentional control.



4.0 Cooperation and Responsibility

P reschool children seek to cooperate

with adult instructions in order to
obtain the adults approval and be viewed
Adults provide this support when they
ensure that classroom expectations
are developmentally, culturally, and
as helpful, constructive classroom con linguistically appropriate. Children are
tributors.50, 51, 52 As self-control is slowly reminded of expected conduct and of
developing, however, young children ways in which they can contribute to a
often need adult support, especially classroom environment where children
when they are distressed or frustrated. enjoy cooperating with one another.

VIgNETTE Mr. Ravi and his group of preschool children enter the play yard on
Monday morning. As several children run to the sandbox, Vicente
shouts with dismay, Oh, look! Somebody ruined our fort and messed
up all the hiding places we dug for our food! That was mean! Mr.
Ravi comes over quickly to join them. He surveys the logs and boul-
ders strewn around in the sand and notes the childrens distress and
sense of outrage.
Mr. Ravi responds sympathetically, You all spent so much time work-
ing together to build this last Friday. It does seem unfair that it has
been destroyed. Do you have ideas about what to do?
Vicente suggests, I know! We can make it over again and then you
can write a sign that says, Keep Out. This is OUR fort. The other
children agree.
Mr. Ravi says, It sounds like you have a plan to rebuild and protect
your project. I know that Marcos can write words and likes to make
signs. Why dont you ask him if he would be willing to make the sign
you need? The children agree with this idea, and Mr. Ravi accom-
panies them to talk to Marcos, who sits alone on the stairs. This is
going to take a lot of teamwork, comments Mr. Ravi.
Yeah, but were getting really good at teamwork, responds Vicente

TEAChAbLE In this situation, the teacher affirms the groups sense of out-
MOMENT rage and stays involved in guiding them to a positive solution
while allowing them to take responsibility for making good
decisions. He refers them to another, more socially isolated
child who has the writing skills their project requires. The
teacher follows through to facilitate his inclusion. He affirms
the importance of teamwork and conveys his confidence that
they are capable of repairing the damage together. An inten-
tional adult draws attention to instances of cooperation and
the positive outcome of shared work.



The following teacher interactions Enlist childrens participation in

and strategies can strengthen childrens creating examples of school or class
ability to demonstrate cooperation and room expectations. Expectations of
responsibility in the preschool setting: classroom behavior, such as We are
safe, we are respectful, we are friendly
Develop a warm and secure relation-
and kind, can be used across all settings
ship with each child. The quality of
within a school. The children can help
adultchild relationships motivates chil-
come up with examples of how they
dren toward cooperation and responsibil-
show safety, respect, and teamwork.
ity. Children are motivated to cooperate
Photographs of the children engaged
with adult requests and standards partly
in teamwork, for example, may be
because of their emotional attachments
posted as a reminder. The expectations
to those adults and their desire to main-
can be reviewed regularly, as well as
tain positive relationships with them.
acknowledged when observed by the
Preschool children need a strong sense
adults, in order to support the learning
of connection and attachment with the
of the social guidelines.53
teachers and staff. Try to spend at least
a brief, special time with each child regu- Focus on building a sense of class-
larly to maintain a close bond. room community among children and
adults. Teachers can model and facili-
Ensure that adult expectations for
tate friendly, responsible behavior that
childrens behavior are developmen-
shows respect for other people and for
tally appropriate. Preschool children are
program materials. Enthusiastically draw
active and are usually most successful
attention to instances of cooperation and
when involved in self-initiated learn-
teamwork among children who accom-
ing activities that engage their inter-
plished a goal together. Group meetings
est. Large-group activities that require
are held to make decisions (e.g., What
long periods of quiet attention often do
shall we name our new guinea pig?)
not match their capabilities. Appropri-
or to brainstorm solutions to problems
ate learning goals can be accomplished
through a well-planned program of activ-
ities tailored to childrens maturity levels.
Move beyond rules to expectations
to emphasize guiding principles or
values. State a reason along with a
request. Communication such as, Lets
all move back a little to make room in
the circle for everyone, informs children
of the immediate goal of the request.
Adding, In our class we make sure that
everyone is included because we are
friendly and kind, broadens that goal
and states the general principle/expecta-
tion behind it: that of including or taking
care of each other.



that arise. Encourage brainstorming and

problem solving in pairs or small groups
to build childrens trust in their own
social competence and good judgment.
Refer children to each other, instead
of to an adult, for assistance to facili-
tate connections. This practice can
also serve to include or emphasize the
strengths of children who may be over-
looked in other social situations. Encour-
age children to work together on tasks
Everywhere). Give individual reminders
to help maintain the indoor and outdoor
about behavioral expectations ahead of
program spaces. In this way, children
time to children who have more difficulty
gain a sense of cooperative ownership
complying with requests or managing
and responsibility for the space.
transitions. For English learners,
Rehearse and prompt desired actions, individual reminders will help prepare
especially for transition times. Do with them for behavioral expectations and
children what you are asking them to do provide an opportunity to clarify English
until they understand your expectations. words and phrases. Prompt a specific,
Post the daily classroom routine and desired behavior by making a request
refer to a picture/word/symbol chart, in the affirmative (e.g., Please move
as appropriate, so that children can carefully around peoples block towers)
anticipate and prepare psychologically instead of a negative prohibition (e.g.,
for transitions. A transition song or Dont run in the block area). For more
chant can help children focus on a information about strategies to support
transition task (e.g., Come and Make a children who are English learners, see
Circle; Clean up, Clean up, Everybody Chapter5.



Bringing It All Together

Lucas stands close to his caregiver, peers and group participation. A warm,
Ms. Mai, who is sitting in the block caring adult can serve as a model for
area. Ms. Mai observes Lucas watch- exploring social skills and as a reassuring
ing his peers at play as they build a presence. Providing prompts, narrating
large train. This train is getting really social experiences, and participating as a
big, she comments to Lucas with a co-explorer in childrens play all support
soft smile and a gentle hand on his social interactions.
back. Lucas nods his head slowly.
I wonder if Martin needs a helper. Engaging Families
He said he is the engineer, but an
engineer needs a conductor. Would
you like to hand out and collect tick- T he following ideas may be suggested
to families in newsletters or parent
teacher conversations as ways of helping
ets? Lucas nods his head again and
reaches for Ms. Mais hand as she their children learn and practice skills for
gets up to move closer to the train. constructive interaction and cooperation.
Ms. Mai provides Lucas her hand and Have conversations with children
another reassuring smile. You could about things they are thinking, plan-
let Martin know you want to help. Tell ning, and doing. Offer specific com-
Martin I can collect the tickets. ments or questions about childrens
Lucas pauses and then mumbles (or activities and ask children to describe
signs), Martin, I can collect tickets. in more detail things they bring home.
You all look like you are having fun Encourage children to work out a
over here. Lucas wants to help too. disagreement with a sibling or friend
Where are the tickets for Lucas to by suggesting to each other ideas for
pass out to your riders? restates solving the problem. Remind children
Ms. Mai. to consider each others needs and
feelings as they choose a solution to
Oh! Over there, responds Martin,
try. Stay close by to help children as
pointing over to the basket of torn
they practice using words to resolve a
pieces of paper.
Thanks, Martin, for your help. Lucas,
Ask children for help with household
lets go get the tickets and hand them
chores or projects. Discuss, while
to our friends. I think these builders
working together, some things each
will want to fill the train with passen-
person can do to help the family.
gers, observes Ms. Mai excitedly.
Emphasize to children the familys
values about such things as coopera-
This anecdote illustrates the impor-
tion, teamwork, good manners, and
tance of quality teacherchild relation-
kindness toward other people.
ships as a foundation for interaction with


Questions for Reflection

1. How do you help a child who has trouble entering a group already
at play?
2. What kinds of social skills have you been able to effectively help
children learn by modeling for them?
3. What are your most difficult challenges when you try to support
children during their dramatic play?



elationships shape young childrens learning. From infancy,
parentchild and family relationships guide and motivate childrens
love for discovery and learning and provide a
secure foundation for the growth of exploration and
self-confidence.54 In the classroom, special adults and
friends make preschool an inviting place for children.55, 56
The teacher is a bridge for the child, connecting her
to relationships at home and in the classroom. Young
childrens close relationships contribute in concert to the
growth of early learning.
A thoughtfully designed preschool curriculum that supports
social-emotional development devotes considerable attention,
therefore, to the direct and indirect ways that childrens
relationships at home and in the classroom or family child care
program are important to early learning.
In this section, specific strategies are
discussed that support development
in each of the following substrands:
1.0 Attachments to Parents
2.0 Close Relationships with
Teachers and Caregivers
3.0 Friendships


1.0 Attachments to Parents

P reschool children bring to their

classroom the security they receive
from their primary family members.57, 58
members provide. Teachers recognize
the importance of family to preschool
children when they initiate conversations
Their attachment can be seen most about events at home or family culture
clearly at the beginning and the end of and language. Teachers may encourage
the day, when children affectionately children to bring things from home
depart from and later reunite with to share with the group while helping
their family members, excitedly sharing new children manage separations. A
achievements or asking for help. It can consultation with family members may
also be observed when young children be needed when teachers notice that a
are distressed and seek the special child in their care is showing unusual
comfort and support that their family behavioral or emotional difficulties.

VIgNETTE Araceli sits quietly at the writing station. Her family child care
provider, Ms. Cindy, notices squiggles and letter-like forms on her
paper. What are you working on, Araceli? Ms. Cindy asks.
A letter for Mam. She is on an airplane, Araceli replies with a
sad expression on her face.
Thats right. Mam had to fly to Los Angeles to take care of
Grandma. It sounds like you are thinking about her, Ms. Cindy
responds as she sits down and leans close.
I am telling her I miss her. And kiss kiss. She likes kisses.
Ms. Cindy nods her head and offers, Its hard when moms and dads
go on trips. We miss them very much. Would you like any help writing
your letter?
Araceli looks up and responds, Write come home soon.

TEAChAbLE In this situation, the family child care provider sensitively

MOMENT discusses a childs separation from her mother. She offers her
warm support and writing skills to comfort the child, validate
her experience, and communicate her respect for family



The following interactions and strate- Talk with children regularly about
gies can help to affirm childrens sense of their families. Listen to and sympathize
continuity and connection between home with childrens feelings about separation
and preschool: from their family members. Help children
to manage separation by providing
Establish a warm and collaborative
consistent, nurturing support during
relationship with each childs family,
the preschool day. Ask children about
beginning with the first meeting of the
their home activities and experiences
family and continuing through the time
and encourage them to bring items or
of enrollment and beyond. Arrange a
share news from home with the group.
getting-to-know-you meeting with the
Communicate positively about each
child and family or conduct a home visit.
childs family and cultural practices.
Collaborate with the childs family in
Find out what language the child speaks
completing an initial child assessment
at home and incorporate that language
that includes family goals, expectations,
in classroom activities. Incorporate
and concerns (e.g., How do the childs
family photos and home materials in
family members describe the child?
the classroom environment.
What do they hope will be accomplished
at preschool?). A photograph of the Create predictable arrival and depar
child and family may be displayed on a ture routines. Provide a warm and
family board (at the childs eye level) welcome area for children and families
in the classroom. Invite each family to at the beginning of the day. Help families
visit the program and share time, skills, design a predictable good-bye routine
or projects with the group. The childs for their child. Invite them to make use
achievements (e.g., artwork, dictated of quiet areas in the classroom to allow
stories) should be prominently displayed slow-to-warm children to make the
in the classroom for family members to transition to the space. Offer parents
see. Draw parents attention to the the idea of reading a book or enjoying
display with appreciative comments. a simple activity with their child before
leaving. Remind parents to avoid
sneaking out after their arrival.
Communicate frequently with family
members about childrens preschool
activities, progress, and any concerns
you have. Use documentation displays,
photos, and examples of childrens work
as a tool for engaging parents and family
members in meaningful conversation.
Ask family members to share with you
information that could help you to
work better with the child. For more
information about strategies to support
children who are English learners, see
Chapter 5.



2.0 Close Relationships with Teachers and Caregivers

P reschool children develop special

relationships with teachers and care-
givers and rely on these relationships for
home. Teachers recognize the importance
of these close relationships to a young
childs self-confidence and feelings about
security and support in the program.59, 60 preschool when they affirm the childs ini-
This dependence can be observed when tiatives, convey enthusiasm for the childs
young children seek the assistance of a accomplishments, pay attention when the
special teacher when distressed or need- child needs assistance or comfort, and
ing help (sometimes refusing the assis- seek to develop a friendly, cooperative
tance of other adults) or look to a special relationship with the childs primary
caregiver to play a game, display a new family members.
discovery, or share an experience from

VIgNETTE Tanya eagerly comes through the front door and greets caregiver
Natalya with her news: Ms. Natalya, we went to the fair last night,
and I got to pet goats and sheeps and chickens, except Papa said to
stay back from the ducks, because they have bills that can bite you
Ms. Natalya knelt down, and Tanya reached out to her. Wow, Tanya!
You sound really excited about your night at the fair. Did your whole
family go, Grandpa too? she asked, looking at Tanyas papa, who
had accompanied her to the family child care home. Mr. Terebkov
smiled and nodded, responding that it had been an enjoyable but late
night for all of them. Ms. Natalya prompted Tanya to hug Papa good-
bye, and then Tanya reached for Ms. Natalyas hand as they moved
together into the play area. Ms. Natalya asked Tanya more about her
favorite part of the county fair.

TEAChAbLE In this encounter, Tanyas family child care provider

MOMENT demonstrates her warm, responsive relationship with both
Tanya and her father at arrival time. She responds with
warmth when Tanya reaches out to her and then wants to
hold her hand while entering the play area. She expresses
interest in the news Tanya shares excitedly and pursues the
topic enthusiastically as Tanya makes the transition into her
day in Ms. Natalyas program.



The following interactions and strate-

gies can help develop close relationships
between teachers or caregivers and
Build and maintain a pattern of warm,
nurturing interactions with each child
in the designated group. Ensure that each
child has a primary teacher or caregiver
who will greet, support, and consistently
respond to the childs needs, especially
at times of distress. Engage each child by
name frequently. Match the adults inter-
action to the childs social cues. Research Highlight
Demonstrate in the childs presence
a friendly, cooperative, and respectful How important is the relationship
relationship with the childs family. between young children and their
Greet, communicate with, and touch the teachers for school success? In one
child in ways that are consistent with study, researchers measured the qual-
the values of the childs culture (e.g., ity of childteacher relationships in
whether a child is expected to wait until preschool, kindergarten, and first grade,
the teacher speaks or whether he should and also measured childrens social and
address the teacher using a formal name academic skills in first grade. They found
rather than a first name). that academic and social skills were
Encourage childadult collaboration each positively associated with mea-
in learning. Participate as co-explorers sures of childteacher closeness and
in childrens projects and explorations. negatively associated with childteacher
Convey enthusiasm for each childs conflict. Teacherchild relationships at
efforts and interest in their ideas. Engage all agespreschool, kindergarten, and
in extended conversation about topics a first gradewere important.61
child introduces.



3.0 Friendships

P reschool children enjoy the friendships

they develop with each other. They
typically have one or two particular chil-
tional development when they encourage
young children to enjoy shared activities
with friends. Teachers help children rec-
dren whom they identify as friends and ognize and respond appropriately to their
with whom they play and share other friends feelings and preferences, assisting
activities.62 Teachers recognize the impor- in conflict resolution while also encourag-
tance of friendships to social and emo ing participation in group activities.

VIgNETTE Adrian enters the classroom with twinkling eyes and a wide smile. He
runs to the cubby shelf and quickly stows his backpack. After popping
back up, he speeds over to Ms. Caitlin, who is sitting at the art table.
Wheres Jorge?
Ms. Caitlin smiles, kneels down next to Adrian, and says, Good
morning, Adrian! You seem excited to find your friend Jorge. I know
how much you enjoy playing with him. Lets see . . . I think I see him
building over in the block area. Ms. Caitlin walks with Adrian across
the room over to the block area. I wonder if your plan today is to
make a train with Jorge? He looks pretty busy over there.
Im gonna help too! Jorge! Jorge! exclaims Adrian excitedly as he
skips over to join Jorge in the block area.

TEAChAbLE In this situation, the child utilizes his close relationship with
MOMENT his teacher to connect with an important friend. The teacher
thoughtfully puts language on a developing friendship and
helps the child find his preferred playmate in the classroom.

The following teacher interactions and activities for extended, uninterrupted

strategies can acknowledge and support periods of time. Respect a childs prefer-
the role of friendships within the class- ence for play at times with only one friend
room group: or group of friends.
Plan a program that offers choices of Use ongoing observations to inform
activities and associations with peers. your social structuring of experiences.
Develop learning areas that reflect the Consider existing friendships when orga-
various interests and abilities of mem- nizing small-group activities or mealtime
bers of the class. Provide several areas groups. Stucture small-group activities
that comfortably accommodate only two so that more-hesitant children work on
or three children so that friends have projects with others whose interests and
opportunities to engage in more complex styles seem compatible. Coach and sup-


port a child who is more socially isolated Use books, puppet plays, and group
to enter into play with another child who discussions to identify and reinforce
shares similar interests and character- friendship skills (e.g., negotiation and
istics. Work intensively with children conflict resolution, sensitivity to others
whose social skills are lagging to coach feelings, loyalty). Interactions between
them in social situations. Coach pre- the characters in a book, such as the
school friends through the often intense neighborhood children in Chesters
interactions that may occur between Way, by Kevin Henkes, can lead to
friends with strong emotional attach- discussions about ways to show loyalty
ments to each other. to an old friend while including a new
one, and the choices children face when
playmates have a variety of personality
Communicate with childrens families
about their preschool friendships and
encourage out-of-school contact with
school friends, if possible. Reassure fam-
ily members about age-typical friendship
behavior. Concerns about any problem-
atic social behavior observed at preschool
should be shared with them, too. Commu-
nicate with the families of children who
are more socially isolated about strategies
used at preschool. Families can reinforce
the strategies at home and in the commu-
nity. Asking families for their ideas about
other strategies to try strengthens the
homeschool connection.


Bringing It All Together

No, youre not! shouts Michelle. Yes, Children express interests and needs
I am! Im the Mommy! screams Lily. within a peer relationship in a variety of
Well, you are a Silly Pilly. Youre not ways. Not all children will be as overt as
my friend anymore counters Michelle, Michelle and Lily, but the astute teacher
standing with her hands on her hips can identify these differences and support
and a scowl on her face. peers much as Miss Sandra did in the
At Michelles words, Lilys lip begins to As young children explore friend-
quiver. Tears form in her eyes as she ship, they rely on their relationships
yells, I am your friend! I am! with adults for support. Teachers and
Miss Sandra moves over to the confron caregivers serve as a resource for under-
tation, kneels between the girls, and standing individual interests and needs
says with concern, You both look within a peer relationship. Opportunities
really upset. Something is wrong. Can for independent and guided learning are
you tell me what is happening? required for children to build their rela-
She said I am not her friend! exclaims tionship skills. Sensitive adult support
Lily, trying to overcome her tears. helps children build the flexibility and
resiliency needed for the challenges
She is being a mean-y pants. I dont
typical in any healthy relationship.
like her, says Michelle.
Keeping families informed includes them
It sounds like both of you have hurt as partners in their childs learning and
feelings. Being friends with someone development at preschool.
means that sometimes we disagree
and we get mad or sad. It sounds like Engaging Families
that is happening right now. What can
we do?
I am going to play with David, huffs T here are ways to both strengthen
adultchild relationships and to help
children practice relationship skills. The
Michelle as she marches off. Lily leans
into Miss Sandra. following strategies can be suggested to
families for use at home.
Miss Sandra considers what she
knows about each childs individual Start a special good-bye ritual to use
temperament before responding: Its with a preschool child every day
tricky sometimes with friends. Why (e.g., a hug, kiss, or special words,
dont we take a little break from play- followed by a wave at the window)
ing with Michelle? Ill bet she will be when it is time to leave. A predictable
ready to play later when you are both routine is reassuring and makes the
feeling better. Miss Sandra helps Lily transition easier.
get involved in a new activity and then Find at least a few minutes every day
makes a mental note to check with to spend as special time with each
each childs parent at departure time. child. Family members may choose to
read a book together, go on an errand,


sing favorite songs, or converse about helps a child see that both value
the day as they do a chore together. learning and share in teaching.
Meet the childs primary preschool Make sure that a preschool child has
teacher or caregiver and greet each opportunitiesat home, in the neigh-
other in a friendly way at each arrival borhood, or with relativesto play
and departure. Showing that parents with other children and to practice
and teachers are working together positive social skills.

Questions for Reflection

1. How did the adults response in this situation affect the two
friends involved? How would you have responded in this
2. What things do you do to help preschool children manage the
strong emotions that are often part of their friendships?
3. What kind of information do you share with families about their
childrens preschool friendships? How do families help inform you
about their childs relationships with friends?



he heart of a curriculum that nurtures childrens social-
emotional development is play. A play-based, active learning
approach allows many opportunities for practicing social
interaction and relationship skills. It provides support for the
growth of age- and developmentally appropriate self-regulation
abilities. It encourages childrens own curiosity and initiative.
Finally, play in a well-planned early learning program provides
each child with a network of nurturing, dependable adults who
will actively support and scaffold their learning in a group setting.
To be effective in accomplishing early learning goals, an active,
play-based program must allow children to freely choose and
pursue interests and activities, both alone and with others. It
must encourage them to translate their own thoughts, ideas, and
preferences into new activities and experiments. It must give them
access to these opportunities for activity and exploration in a
thoughtfully planned environment for a substantial portion of each
preschool day. And most importantly, it must be planned and led
by teachers who actively participate as co-explorers in childrens
chosen activities. In this context, play is essential and is enhanced
if materials are available to encourage creativity and problem
solving, and if teachers are attentive to the social interactions that
surround childrens play. This active, enthusiastic engagement of
children and adults together in a learning community can lead to
dramatic growth in childrens social-emotional understandings
and competencies and their readiness for the challenges of school.


Map of the Foundations

Domain Social-Emotional
Strand Social Interaction
12 | Social Interaction

Substrand 2.0 Interactions with Peers

At around 48 months of age At around 60 months of age Age
Foundation 2.1 Interact easily with peers in shared 2.1 More actively and intentionally
activities that occasionally become cooperate with each other.
cooperative efforts.

Foundation Children interact comfortably with one or two Children initiate and participate in more
playmates, although sociability is still basic. complex, cooperative activity with peers. This
Description Children sometimes share materials and may involve working together in groups to
communicate together, occasionally working achieve a shared goal or communicating about
cooperatively on a mutual goal or project, how to share materials so all can use them.
especially with adult support.

Examples Examples Examples

After watching another child dig in the sandbox, Invites several children to help dig a hole in the
begins to dig alongside in a similar fashion; sandbox.
eventually the two children are digging together. Suggests taking turns riding the tricycle.
Paints with other children on easels side by side, Responds appropriately to another childs ideas
with the children looking at each others pictures, about how to build a better car track on the floor.
occasionally conflicting over the sharing of paints,
and commenting about their own painting. Shares play dough so another child can make
Uses rhythm instruments together with several
other children. Talks for several minutes with another child about
how they are dressing up in adult clothes for pre-
With adult prompting, shares the blocks she is tend play.
using or participates in turn-taking with another
child. Joins several other children to create a train track,
using blocks on the floor.
Holds the bubble wand for another child so she
can blow bubbles.
Sets the table with another child, communicating
about what is needed next.

Includes notes
for children * Children may play whether or not they are communicating orally, narrating the play, or motorically engaging in activities.
For example, they may ask an adult or peer to assist in the motor aspects of play.
with disabilities


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no. 3 (2005): 311.


Language and


anguage is one of the most crucial tools that children acquire, one
that is essential for cognitive development, reading achievement, and
overall school performance, as well as for social relations. It allows
people to share a societys achievements and history and the deepest
emotions. Language includes conventional sounds, gestures, and visual
symbols, such as writing, that are used separately and jointly for purposes
of communication. The human brain is hard-wired to learn language,
a process quite similar in all children. Yet children differ a good deal as to
when they use their first words, start
to combine words into sentences,
and use complex sentence forms
to communicate meaning. Though
children begin to develop language
and literacy at birth, with nonverbal
cues such as eye gaze and gestures,
they arrive at preschool ready to
communicate with symbols: words,
signs, and pictures.

Childrens early language and The following components constitute

literacy environments often vary, with oral language:a
the amount and kind of experiences Phonologythe sound system of lan-
differing across families. Some children guage, such as noticing that hat, cat,
experience more conversations and book and mat differ by only a single initial
reading than other children1, 2 and more sound;
than one language. Some children see Semanticsthe meaning conveyed by
print primarily in the environment (e.g., words, phrases, and sentences;
street signs, store coupons, labels on Syntax or grammarthe rules that
containers).3 Other children engage with govern how sentences are put together
print in many contexts, including books (e.g., the English language relies on
read to them regularly. Some children word order to convey meaning: Manuel
have opportunities to scribble, draw, throws the ball to Bertha versus Bertha
and write with crayons and markers throws the ball to Manuel);
long before they come to preschool,
while others have few of these emergent a
The term oral language is used to indicate the
writing opportunities. Teachers should inclusion of a phonological component. The other
encourage all preschoolers to join in components of language (semantics, syntax, mor-
activities that will expand their language phology, vocabulary, and pragmatics) are present in
and literacy skills. Each childs family both oral languages, such as English and Spanish,
should be invited to participate in this and visual languages, such as American Sign Lan-
guage (ASL).
exciting process.


Morphologythe units of meaning depend on staying on the topic and

within a language, also called mor- turn-taking.
phemes, such as ed for past tense These components are used in the
(e.g., walked) and s for plural (e.g., auditory (i.e., listening, speaking) and
dogs); visual (i.e., sign, reading, writing)
Vocabularythe words in a given modalities.
language; and Language allows children to express
Pragmaticsthe rules of language their feelings and needs, acknowledge the
used in social contexts (e.g., one would feelings and needs of others, and to talk
talk differently to the president than about emotions.4 It is critical that teach-
to ones mother). Pragmatics includes ers and caregivers be responsive to young
gathering information, requesting, and childrens attempts at communication
communicating. Good conversations

Research Highlight

The principles and curricular suggestions from the left to right and top to bottom
offered in this chapter are based on 40 years on a page). When book reading is accom-
of scientific research on language acquisi- panied by explicit comments (e.g., This
tion and literacy development. Here are just is the title of the book: Whistle for Willie)
a few of the amazing discoveries that form and actions (e.g., underlining the title as
the background of this chapter. The follow- it is read), children learn even more about
ing findings come from this vast body of the features of books and how print
research: works.7
Even in infancy, children are active learn- Childrens storytelling skill and vocabu-
ers who use data from the language they lary development are supported through
hear to grasp patterns.5 Children learning shared reading experiences. Stories have
language behave as young mathemati- a predictable structure: setting, char-
cians who respond to patterns and cal- acters, a problem, and its resolution. As
culate, for instance, that in English ed children hear stories, they learn this basic
generally comes at the end of verbs to structure and begin to use this knowl-
indicate the past tense (e.g., he walked or edge to shape the stories they create.8
it dropped).6 Children also learn the meaning of new
When young children hear language words from listening to multiple readings
around them, they are accumulating the of good stories,9 friendly explanations
data they need to use their skills and to of words (explanations with word-
grasp the features of their native lan- ing and examples within the preschool
guage. In addition, the very practice of childs grasp rather than a more formal
reading with children (e.g., starting at the definition from a dictionary) offered by
front of a book and moving page by page teachers and parents as they read stories
to the end) teaches the patterns of book to children,10, 11, 12 and from engagement
structure and handling and the general with adults in discussions during story
ways that print works (e.g., English is read reading.13, 14


and language by focusing on things that Children say or sign what they
are meaningful to the children and their hear or see
families. No single component of any cur- A rich language environment is key for
riculum will have more impact on a pre- preschool childrens language learn-
schoolers development than language. ing as well as for their development as
Preschool is also an exciting time for readers and writers. The more language
written language development and for children hear, the more their language
promoting interest in reading. If the social grows.18, 19, 20 Children say, sign, or use
and physical environments in preschool touch screens to express what they
and the home support the development hear or see. When teachers use conven-
of reading and written language, children tional language, they provide a model
will want to hear stories from books from which children learn how to use
and to use books to find out more about language themselves. The same is
things of interest. They will also be true for reading and writing. The more
inclined to create marks that approximate adults read and write with children and
letters and to learn how to write their show children how they use reading
own names. They will enjoy playing with and writing in their own lives, the more
the sounds of language, as well. All of children grow in their understanding
these experiences are foundations for the of what it means to be a reader and
conventional reading and writing that writer. Adults also have many oppor-
come later. tunities to answer childrens questions
about how print works.
Children learn everywhere
Guiding Principles Adults can act as detectives to find
language and literacy opportuni-
Language and literacy work together ties everywhere and then use them
Language and literacy support each as teachable moments. For example,
other. Children with well-developed when a child relates a personal expe-
oral language are likely to succeed in rience and leaves out information
reading comprehension in later grade critical for a listeners understanding,
levels than children with less well- asking a question that prompts the
developed oral language.15 Children child to provide this information helps
with strong oral vocabularies are likely develop narrative skills (e.g., Where
to make more progress in developing were you when the wind blew your hat
phonological awareness.16 In addition, off?).21 Caregiving situations can pro-
language and literacy learning often vide strong physical support for word
occur together in the same context. meanings and help children learn new
For example, talking with a child about vocabulary (e.g., Rub the palms of your
what happened the day before sup- hands together, like this, to work up
ports both language development and a lather).22 Teachers may refer to the
narrative skills.17 Helping children find label on the soup can a child tips into
their names on the helper chart and the play pan in the house area to cook
explaining how the helper chart system soup (e.g., I see were having tomato
works support both literacy and lan- soup for lunch) to support print skills.
guage. Finding these everyday moments also


enriches childrens appreciation for the

many uses that language and literacy
Children learn best from experiences
that are interesting, useful, and fun
The world and preschool are interest-
ing and satisfying places for children
when they offer experiences that
engage and delight children and satisfy
their desire to know.23, 24 When children
learn that language can be fun (e.g.,
singing silly songs and reciting poems
with surprising endings) and also gets
things done, they will be motivated to
use their language. When children hear
the words in songs (e.g., When Youre
Happy and You Know It) that indicate
movements to make or when language
learning is embedded into routines childs path to language and literacy
(e.g., If you have a pocket in your shirt and expands each childs experiences.
or blouse, please go to the sink to wash Children with disabilities or communi-
your hands), they see a reason for cation differences benefit from teach-
attending to language and for using it. ers who understand their differences
When they find out that books are full in language and communication and
of interesting characters and informa- make allowances for them in the daily
tion (e.g., an ant is an animal!), they routine.
will want to hear more books. Connect school and home
Celebrate and support the individual Building connections with the childs
Children differ in temperament and family members gives parents an
also in their language and literacy opportunity to get more involved in
experiences. The child who is timid, their childrens learning. When parents
the child for whom English is not the are provided with certain materials and
home language, or the child who uses are helped to learn strategies support-
sign language or an alternative com- ing their childrens language and lit-
munication system may be reluctant eracy development, childrens learning
to communicate. Some children hear benefits.26 Reaching out to families also
more books read aloud than do other gives teachers opportunities to learn
children, and some are encouraged about the strengths that each child
to share their thoughts about the brings to school and about important
story while others are encouraged to individual differences. For example,
just listen or to recite portions of the teachers should ask family members to
text.25 Childrens access to pen, pen- provide information regarding a child
cil, and paper in the early years also who uses (or is learning to use) an
varies. Knowing that individual chil- alternative communication system. It
dren have different starting points, a is also important to consult with spe-
teacher accepts and delights in each cialists. This knowledge helps teachers


to build on and extend the experiences Research suggests that children talk
that children have at home. very little in the preschool classroom, 34
even though doing so would promote
Create a culturally sensitive
their language development. Children
should be asked open-ended questions
Around the world, children in some
that require more than one word to
cultures are encouraged to speak up
answer (e.g., What are all the foods
while children in other cultures are
you like to eat for breakfast? rather
encouraged to remain silent. Teachers
than What did you eat this morn-
need to be respectful of home expecta-
ing?). Then teachers can follow up
tions for language at the same time
with additional questions, for example,
that they support children to speak
asking about what the childs family
up at school.27 In a preschool class-
does in the morning. Questions should
room that is too silent, children will
not test or quiz but serve as prompts
not experience enough language to
that encourage children to generate
learn to use it or to gain knowledge
language. Children will also learn as
and skills for literacy. Children must
teachers model for them how to engage
be surrounded by language to acquire
in back-and-forth exchange with other
the vocabulary and sentence struc-
children. When teachers ask for chil-
tures they need to read and write and
drens opinions and ideas, childrens
think.28, 29, 30, 31 This means that pre-
confidence soars. Additionally, when
school teachers must talk and also
teachers encourage children to make
encourage children to use language for
choices, for example, about which
negotiating with other children, ask-
of two literacy activities they wish
ing for what they want, and expressing
to engage in, children will be more
their emotions.
invested in the activity.
Encourage children to take a turn
Make thoughts more explicit to
Children learn language and learn
children by thinking out loud
about reading and writing through
Teachers may share their thinking
social interaction, especially when
in a demonstration of how to write
there is a lot of back and forth in
a letter to a child who has asked for
a conversation.32 Strike a balance
help. They describe their actions (e.g.,
between surrounding children with
To write the letter K, you start with
language and letting them talk too.33
a long vertical line like this, and then
you draw a short diagonal line like
this, and then another short diagonal
line from here down to here.). Teach-
ers may also share their thoughts dur-
ing routine tasks, such as cleaning
out the clogged spout of a glue bottle
(e.g., Im going to open up this paper
clip and place it in the bottles spout.
If I can get the dried piece out of the
spout, the glue will come out again.
See the hole? Im going to stick the end
of the paper clip right in there . . .).


Hearing the teacher describe his or her

actions increases childrens language Environments and
and literacy learning.35, 36 Learning can
benefit from explicit thinking out loud Materials
in routine contexts, just as in planned
instructional contexts.37
Support curiosity and confidence
H ow the learning environment is
arranged affects how children learn
to talk, read, and write. An environment
Children should not be afraid to ask
that fosters language development, two-
Why? and How come? Children
way communication, and literacy skills
ask questions in environments that
provides rich curriculum content. The
are cognitively interesting and chal-
daily schedule accommodates a variety
lenging. They are more confident and
of groupings (e.g., large group, small
learn more in environments that are
group, and individual), and the learning
emotionally supportive.38, 39, 40 Ask-
materials fascinate children. Children
ing questions, such as I wonder what
learn more when adults model language
would happen if . . . and using com-
and literacy as well as provide playful,
ments, such as Tell me about. . . .,
purposeful instruction. Play spaces with
engage children in wondering and
literacy props (e.g., signs, lists) allow chil-
thinking and in sharing their thoughts.
dren to congregate and to make choices
These prompts also let children know
that foster rich language and literacy
that adults think childrens ideas are
Create literacy-rich environments The daily schedule for adultchild
and childchild interactions
Interesting materials, organized attrac-
Program leaders need to create oppor-
tively to create specific areas in the
tunities within the day for adultchild
indoor and outdoor learning envi-
and childchild interaction. Consis-
ronments, prompt children to talk,
tency in the daily schedule, routines,
explore, build, draw, paint, move,
and locations of interest areas helps
inquire, and enact roles in pretend
all children, especially those with cog-
play. Literacy materials and props,
nitive or social behavior challenges
embedded throughout the learning
or with visual disabilities, because it
environment, make using language
reduces uncertainty. The most beauti-
and engaging in reading and writing
ful room is only as good as the inter-
a routine part of each preschool day.
action that takes place inside it. Con-
Observe children versation with adults and with peers,
By observing childrens engagement exposure to print, and writing and
with language and literacy, teachers drawing materials are key to fostering
find ways to enter their world to sup- language and literacy.
port and extend their learning. These
Large-group space
observations become a guide for inten-
Sitting together for group songs,
tional classroom practice. As teachers
games, and discussions and facing a
implement planned activities, their
wall with attractive and uncluttered
observations of childrens responses
displays allow children a clear view of
provide vital information that helps
teachers and peers. They can attend
teachers meet childrens specific needs.


to and respond to verbal and nonver- ing family photographs, childparent

bal communication, as well as visual drawings and projects, or drawings of
prompts. family members that children create at
school. Document school-based fam-
Small-group spaces
ily activities with photos and display
During some portions of the preschool
them. Rich lists of words may accom-
day, teachers might gather children in
pany illustrations to match the occu-
small groups. Small groups allow more
pations of family members or the favor-
individual interaction with adults than
ite foods enjoyed in each childs home.
do large groups, and they help ensure
that each child interacts with a teacher Centers or interest areas
every day. Individual centers or interest areas,
each focusing on a unique kind of
experience, give children a range of
choices. These special places encour-
age preschool children to work col-
laboratively and to communicate with
one another. They also provide children
with opportunities to work alone, if
they wish. Areas with quiet activities
are separate from those with more exu-
berant activities. Paths leading to areas
are free of barriers for children who
use mobility devices, such as walkers,
and large enough to allow children to
Most literacy skills interventions with interact around the materials. Relevant
demonstrated effectiveness have been books, signs, and other print artifacts
done in small-group settings,41 no may be placed in each of the areas,
doubt, because these settings allow along with writing supplies to support
teachers to adapt both interaction children in using print props in play
levels and teaching strategies to meet (e.g., notepads and telephone direc-
individual needs (e.g., language devel- tories, menus and order pads, road
opment for children who are English signs) and in routines (e.g., paper for
learners). Small groups also benefit a turns list, name tags for an activi-
children with disabilities, as adults can ties chart, a helper chart). (See more
demonstrate for all of the children how specific suggestions in 1.0, Concepts
accommodations increase the childs About Print, page 129).
ability to communicate. For example,
Create a dramatic play area
having picture symbols available that
The basic dramatic play area is a
the child uses to initiate comments or
house area filled with dress-up
respond to questions illustrates the
clothes, furniture, toy dishes, empty
skills needed for fluent conversations.
food containers, and dolls.
A space to display family-related
items Ting dresses up like a mother with
The link between home and school high heels and a fancy hat. She
may be strengthened by display- serves a bowl of plastic noodles


complete with make-believe chop-

sticks. David joins, asking if he may
serve the toy hamburgers. They talk
about the different things their fami-
lies eat and how they eat. As other
children join in to create a banquet
of pretend foods, the play and the
language exchanges become more

Using basic clothing and other props

from home and community environ-
related books and writing materi-
ments, rather than commercial out-
als to the block area encourages
fits, encourages children to create
literacy development and appeals to
their own play scenarios. Sometimes
childrens delight in adding details to
dramatic play introduces cultural
buildings and streets (e.g., signs) to
differences in preferred foods, cloth-
make them resemble what children
ing, or eating utensils. The childrens
observe in the real world.
pretend stories serve as platforms
for high-level language and support Create an art area
understanding of stories they hear As children hold pens, paintbrushes,
in books read to them. Using addi- markers, and crayons and manipu-
tional play themes during the year late scissors, glue bottles, and clay,
(e.g., grocery store, pet store, post they not only create works of art
office, repair shop) provides more but also build the fine motor skills
opportunities to introduce cultural needed for writing, drawing, and
variations. It also supports childrens painting. Including materials with
varied interests and extends the a variety of handles (e.g., built up,
contributions of dramatic play to round) enables the child with a dif-
childrens understanding of a larger ferent kind of grasp to participate.
range of stories and other kinds of As children use art to represent
books. their experiences and feelings or
to capture something created by
Create a block area
their imagination, they also use and
Block play often enlists small groups
develop skills in the use of symbols
who are learning to collaborate and
that support oral or sign language
communicate as they build a fire sta-
and the composing of messages and
tion or the tallest tower. As children
stories that can be written down.
work together, they use language
and learn words such as above and Create a writing area
below. Adults who comment on Although children have opportunities
childrens work by using sentences to write in all interest areas, an area
model good sentence structure and devoted specifically to writing materi-
also the complex spatial language als increases childrens interest and
that is related to later spatial and engagement in writing. White and
mathematical abilities.42, 43 Adding colored paper (drawing, manila, and


copier) in several sizes, along with a or peer to write for the child, who
variety of writing tools (e.g., mark- would then approve or disapprove
ers, crayons, pens) are available. To by indicating yes or no.
avoid conflict over materials, teach- Create a cozy library or book area
ers make writing tools (e.g., mark- The classroom has plenty of books
ers, crayons) available in small sets reflecting the different languages,
suitable for use by one or two chil- cultures, and current skill levels of
dren rather than in large tubs. the children. Books should be dis-
A large whiteboard or an easel make played cover-forward on shelves.
writing accessible to children with Include narrative and information
limited fine motor skills and those texts, as well as books of verse. A
too busy to sit down to write. The cozy mat or small couch allows chil-
classroom includes tilted surfaces dren to curl up and read. Flannel
and writing tools that are adapted boards and flannel stories, puppets,
for use by children with physical or stuffed animals, soft dolls, and story
motor difficulties. (See strategies in character props in a nearby area are
the Writing strand, on page 162, for provided. Only a few of these mate-
more suggestions.) Some children rials are placed in the library area
may need assistance in emergent at one time, and the selections are
writing either through assistive rotated over time to provide a variety
technology or through the direct of experiences.
help of an adult. Assistive technol-
Too many materials at a time can
ogy, either low tech or high tech,
overwhelm children and crowd the
may be as simple as increasing the
physical space needed to use materi-
width of the marker or pencil so that
als comfortably. Teachers may post
it is easier to grasp or as sophisti-
signs in the library (e.g., Reading
cated as using a computer. Another
Zone, Reading Is Fun, Be a Book-
possibility would be for an adult
worm). Signs for reading and writing
areas can also be placed outdoors.
Illustrated books are augmented with
texture to accommodate children
with visual or cognitive disabilities,
and books with large print or braille
are included for children with visual
impairments. Photo albums (e.g., of
children engaged in activities at pre-
school, field trips, celebrations) and
class books made by the children
help them to connect reading with
their lives and also support language
development as children discuss the
photos and help compose captions
for the pages.
Some children may need assistance
in holding a book or turning the
pages either through assistive tech-


children explore science content, they

learn rich vocabulary, ask questions,
and describe what they see and hear.
They also can learn to document
investigations with drawings or writ-
ing, some of which they dictate to
Create a game area
When children play language games,
they hear and use rich language
in the context of the game as well
as in their discussion around the
game. Negotiating whose turn it is
and discussing what happened give
children the opportunity to use their
language and work with printed
Create a math area
When children play with shapes,
nology or with the help of an adult find patterns, or play with tangram
or peer. For example, a book can be materials, they are building early
mounted so that a child need not mathematical skills, including the
hold it, and sturdy tabs placed on language of mathematics (e.g.,
a books pages make them easier three sides and three corners; same
to turn. Another option for chil- and different; triangle, square,
dren with motor disabilities severe and hexagon). Board games, such
enough to limit book handling is to as those with dice and spinners,
provide books on CDs. encourage children to learn number
Create a science area words used in counting as they
The science area is full of items move ahead three or four spaces.
that spark curiosity and wonder Building knowledge of the quantities
and prompt children to explore and represented by number words and
find out. It has plants and animals the language terms to talk about
under the childrens care and many number relationships helps children
objects to explore (e.g., shells, seeds, learn the foundation of mathematics
rocks, bark, magnets). The outdoor
play space is also a science area,
with wheels and sloped areas; a
variety of interesting substances
(e.g., puddles, sand, mud); clouds,
wind, and sun; spiders, birds, and
leaves; and shadows. Information
books, placed in the indoor science
area as well as outside in suitable
tubs or on a cart, extend childrens
firsthand science experiences. As


(e.g., five is more than three).44 The Perhaps a spot in the classroom may
teachers participation in the math be designated for inspecting interesting
activities helps support children in things (e.g., shavings from the pencil
learning math-related vocabulary sharpener, paintbrush bristles,
and prompts children to talk about feathers, a collection of seeds, or
their actions and discoveries. The collections of rocks or shells) with the
activities are important opportu naked eye or a magnifying glass. Place
nities for children to practice using drawing materials there to prompt
the math terms the teacher models. children to sketch what they see, if
they are interested. The intentional
Prepare materials ahead of time for
teacher joins children as they explore
maximizing language and literacy
in learning environments to ask what
Think ahead about what you want
they are noticing, to help them notice
to accomplish with the children and
more, and to use new vocabulary (e.g.,
select and prepare materials needed
shavings, bristles, pebbles, speckled)
in advance of small- and large-group
in authentic conversations with the
activities. Books, songs, and other
activities are more effective when they
relate to childrens interests and when Extend the classroom beyond
the teacher is intentional in their use. its walls
Childrens experiences will be particu- Being on the playground or going on
larly meaningful if their home culture a class trip gives children engaging
is tapped. Another way to plan so that opportunities to learn important
classroom time is used effectively is language and literacy content. For
to gather enough materials (e.g., cos- example, provide road signs for an
tumes, blocks, books, dolls) to mini- outdoor tricycle path and paper and
mize the amount of time that any child writing tools for making speeding
spends waiting. tickets. Child-made flyers advertising
lemonade stands and drive-through
Arrange learning environments
restaurants can be utilized for outside
to fascinate children and prompt
play. Clipboards support children in
writing and drawing outside. Provide a
Think ahead about what will fascinate
tub of information books outside that
children and make them want to learn.
relate to natural items children might
observe (e.g., insects, worms, flow-
ers, trees). On a field tripeven a walk
around the blockread road signs
and house numbers, answer childrens
questions, and point out things the
children might not notice at first (e.g.,
a birds nest in a tree, workers on a
scaffold washing a buildings windows).
The opportunities are endless.


Writing focuses on understanding that

Summary of Language print represents ideas and on learning
to move from drawing and scribble
Foundations writing to using letters and words. Much
exploration with paper and writing tools
Listening and Speaking consists of three occurs before children will try to write to
substrands. Language use and conven- convey specific meanings. When children
tions focuses on how children use their write to convey meaning, they are using
language for a number of purposes, their language, their physical ability to
including learning how to participate in hold a crayon or pencil, and the cognitive
short conversations. Vocabulary learning understanding that the marks they make
is one of the most important accomplish- on the page are symbols that represent a
ments of early childhood and is related to meaning that can be shared.
later reading comprehension. Grammar
allows children to go beyond mere nam-
ing with their vocabularies to express Summary of the Strands
their ideas in sentences. Understanding
how words are put together in a sentence
and Substrands
(i.e., grammar) is strongly related to read-
ing comprehensionto understanding Language
the meaning in books and stories. Speak- Listening and Speaking
ing can be accomplished through oral 1.0 Language Use and Conventions
language or sign language. 2.0 Vocabulary
3.0 Grammar

Summary of Literacy Literacy

Foundations Reading
1.0 Concepts about Print
Reading consists of five substrands. 2.0 Phonological Awareness
Concepts about print involves the under- 3.0 Alphabetics and Word/Print
standing that print is meaningful and Recognition
can be used for a variety of purposes. 4.0 Comprehension and Analysis
Phonological awareness concerns of Age-Appropriate Text
learning to notice that spoken words 5.0 Literacy Interest and Response
have parts. Alphabetics and word/print Writing
recognition includes identifying alphabet 1.0 Writing Strategies
letters and linking letters in printed
Please refer to the map of the language
words to sounds in spoken words.
and literacy foundations on page 169 for
Comprehension and analysis of age-
a visual explanation of the terminology
appropriate text involves thinking that
used in the preschool learning founda-
leads to understanding stories and other
kinds of books. Literacy interest and
response includes childrens engagement
in and motivation for reading.



Listening and Speaking

anguage takes place all around usin social interactions between
teachers and children, in classroom management, in play between
children, and in instructional activities. For example, when children
learn mathematics and science, they learn
them through language as well as
through meaningful, multisensory
experiences. Language also
enhances or limits childrens
ability to choose playmates
and join in games on the
playground. The Listening
and Speaking strand
has three substrands:
language use and
conventions, vocabulary,
and grammar.


1.0 Language Use and Conventions

H ow does a child ask for what he

needs in a way that is polite and
respectful, clear, and easily understood?
themselves, and by modeling appropriate
language usage.
Four skills are described in this sub-
A four-year-old wants to use the swing strand, each of which is a foundation.
that his peer has been on for over ten Each of these skill areas calls for a dis-
minutes. A five-year-old wants to share tinct set of practices based on research
a story about the family celebration evidence; therefore, the following curricu-
of Chinese New Year. Learning to use lar suggestions are organized by skills
language effectively is a crucial life or foundations. This organization offers
skill that develops from describing to teachers a structure for creating their
predicting, from merely greeting someone own links between foundations that focus
to seeking new information about him on different skills and activities in the
or her. The very climate of the preschool classroom.
classroom depends on how well children The four skills are as follows:
use language to communicate their Use language to communicate with
needs, ideas, and feelings. Teachers others.
can support young children in the area Speak clearly.
of language use and conventions by Use accepted language styles.
repeating and extending what children Tell a short story or retell something
say in conversations, by telling stories that happened earlier in the day.

Use Language to Communicate with Others

Everyday moments provide special opportunities for children to

develop the basics of communication when they describe what
they found, comment on an item of interest, or even greet a peer.

Vignette Armand finds a worm on the playground and gently carries it to

show the teacher. A group of excited children follow him, eager to
learn more about the worm. Ms. Krim asks, What did you find
there, Armand? as she signals to others to join the conversation.
Is it alive? one child asks. The teacher responds, What do you
think? How could we tell?

Teachable Building on the childs interest and being in the moment

moment with the child, this teacher demonstrates back-and-forth
communication and begins a conversation. She engages the
children by making it interesting and fun, by encouraging
children to take a turn, by taking childrens questions
seriously, and by letting children contribute to the



Vignette As the four-year-olds gather for small-group reading time, Ting

sits quietly behind a much taller and more energetic Fernando.
A child who speaks Chinese at home, Ting rarely talks in class,
never raising her hand amidst the flurry of children who want to
be constantly recognized. Her teacher wisely chose a book to read
that told a story about Tings favorite topic: butterflies. For the first
time, Ting quietly contributes to the conversation using English,
My grandfather has a butterfly like that.
The teacher, capitalizing on the moment, asks, Where does your
grandfather keep his butterflies? drawing Ting out further. Other
children join in the dialogue and continue to talk as they make
paper butterflies in the art area.

Planning By choosing a topic of interest to Ting, the teacher encour-

learning aged Ting to contribute to the class discussion in her
opportunities second language. The teacher chose the topic that allowed
Ting to be the expert, thereby connecting school and home.
The teacher encouraged the other children to solicit more
information from Ting, continuing the discussion and
making the topic into an interesting activity. For more
information about strategies to support children who are
English learners, see Chapter 5.

In every classroom, there are planned Acknowledge childrens contributions.

and unplanned opportunities that spark Treating children with respect helps
language use and effective communica- children become curious and confident.
tion. The teachers in the vignettes used Making eye contact with them at their
the following interactions and strategies level when they attempt to communicate,
to support preschool children: greeting each child by name, and recast-
ing their talk to indicate that they have
Set the stage for language use. Teach-
been heard tells children implicitly, Your
ers can make sure that children have a
chance to talk by setting aside time for
them to discuss and to share their ideas.
Teachers know that some of childrens
time in the classroom must be spent lis-
tening, but they also understand that
children need to hear their own voices
too. Children who communicate with sign
language or another system need to have
their expressions acknowledged and be
included in the conversations and inter-
actions among children.



contribution is valuable. Teachers can children an object they have never seen
also show children that their talk is val- beforemaybe a real kitchen or cleaning
ued by providing an explanation when tool (e.g., a sieve or a bottle brush). Give
children ask questions about what a each child an opportunity to ask ques-
word means and by building upon what tions to figure out what the item does
children say. and what it might be called.
Play games and make them interest- Engage in getting to know you
ing and fun! Use games that prompt conversations. Help children to use lan-
children to talk and ask questions. Hide guage to comment on and learn about
a toy in a pillowcase and ask children to others in an engaging way. Have teachers
reach in without looking and describe and children teach each other how to say
what they touch. Bring food with a famil- hello and good-bye in other languages.
iar aromaperhaps the ethnic foods Model the use of conventional greetings
children are acquainted withand ask when others enter the room, as in
children, What does this smell like? Hello, Ms. Schwartz! How are you?
Banana, guava, or chocolate? Show

Speak Clearly

Communication is effective only when people are understood. When

teachers speak clearly, they model good pronunciation, which gen-
tly helps children refine their own speech. Sometimes children will
be difficult to understand. Most children will improve with time. If
teachers see little improvement, they should refer the child to some-
one who can assess the child and recommend specific strategies that
can help the child make progress.

Vignette Luka announces in circle time that tomorrow is his birfday. The
teacher says with delight, Your birthday is tomorrow? Yes, your birth-
day is very soon, and I can see that you are getting excited now that
your birthday is almost here.

Teachable Pronouncing th as f is a common mispronunciation that

moment usually goes away if children are exposed to the conventional
pronunciation over time. By consistently using the correct
production without embarrassing Luka, the teacher can help
children hear the contrast between f and th. Treating the
mispronunciation this way is an example of children saying
or signing what they hear or see because most children will
eventually say words the way they hear their teachers say



The following strategy supports pre- adaptations. Objects or pictures with

school children: names that differ by a single sound may
More games. Teach children a nonsense be placed in a box. As a child pulls out
rhyme to music that requires clear enun- an object, ask or invite the whole class
ciation. Model the syllables for them with to say the word and then the contrasting
great exaggeration and have them say the word (e.g., bat/hat; bow/toe; hand/band).
rhyme together. For example, A benny Children with oral motor involvement who
dicky doom bah. A lassa massa mossah. may have difficulty in saying words or syl-
Oh ben away ben awo ben awah. The lables as they learn to match, synthesize,
popular song Apples and Bananas also or analyze syllables and sounds may dem-
provides opportunities for language play. onstrate their knowledge by indicating yes
Exposing children to a variety of such or no in response to an adults production
experiences over time keeps their inter- of sounds or words.
est high and requires different speech

Use Accepted Language Styles

Teachers can help children begin to learn accepted language con-

ventions and styles so that they do not interrupt other children, so
that they are polite, and so that they speak in quiet or strong voices
where appropriate.
Vignette Gloria just spent her weekend at the beach collecting seashells. She
comes to show Ms. Lutz one of her prize shells. Ms. Lutz asks, Where
did you find these beautiful seashells?
Tony chimes in before Gloria can answer: I got new shoes.
Ms. Lutz turns to Tony and says, I really want to hear about your
shoes, and you can tell me later about them. Right now, lets find out
more about Glorias seashells.

Teachable Ms. Lutz illustrates the importance of staying on topic and

moment of respecting others rights to continue a conversation. By
suggesting that Tony wait his turn and listen to Gloria, she
reinforces that conversation is a give-and-take. When she asks
questions of the children, she encourages them to take a turn.

The following strategy supports Teachers should also ask questions and
preschool children: encourage children who are hesitant to
Model the use of language conven- respond in their big voice while encour-
tions and encourage children to do aging loud children to speak in their
the same. By using complete and clear small voice. Teachers can also help
sentences, the teacher in the vignette children learn when to use their big and
showed children how to speak clearly. small voices (e.g., on the playgroundbig
When teachers use polite and appropriate voice, but during naptimesmall voice).
language, children will follow their lead.



Tell a Short Story or Retell Something

That Happened Earlier in the Day

Oral narrative, or storytelling, is often considered a bridge between

language development and reading. When telling a story about
something that happened earlier in the day or inventing a fictional
tale, one must take the listeners perspective into account and fill
in details that are often not included in a conversation. Telling
stories demands not only the use of vocabulary and sentences but
also a particular structure: a setting, characters, a problem, and a
Producing narratives at these ages may vary for children who are
communicating with sign language or an alternative communi-
cation system. As is true for all children, teachers can support
young childrens communication knowledge and skills by repeat-
ing and extending what children say in conversations. Teachers
can also provide opportunities for children to repeat or tell stories
as a way of encouraging them to produce narratives.

Vignette Azadeh and Alberto are dressing up to act out the book the class
has read several times. The teacher and the children in the audi-
ence remind the actors when they forget to portray crucial moments
in the story. Jorge hollers, Then he saved the frog! and the actors
laugh and depict that scene.

Planning Through guided dramatic play, the children act out a

learning story for the class. The children themselves begin to notice
opportunities key story elements and remind each other about these
moments, all in the spirit of having fun. Silence is not
always golden as the children, eager to share their recall
of the story, tell the actors what they missed.

Vignette Adelita is eager to tell the class about the holiday gathering at her
house. In her home language, she says, Vino mi abuelita. Y vino
mi ta. Y vino mi to. (My grandma came. My aunt came. And my
uncle came.) The teacher, who knows Spanish, tells the class what
Adelita said and then asks her some questions first in Spanish and
then in English (e.g., Did baby Ana come too?). Adelitas answers
delight the class as she tells them about baby Anas visit.

Teachable The teachers explanation of what Adelita said enabled

moment everyone to feel included. By making this story engaging for
all, the teacher is implicitly valuing Adelitas home language.
Follow-up questions to the childs story allow the teacher
to not only help Adelita to express herself but also to build
narrative skill.



Vignette It is Laras turn to share a special story from home. Lara, who is
beginning to use an assistive technology communication device, had
some key words added to her device that enable her to share. As Mr.
Tony holds up the pictures, she pushes the button that labels the pic-
ture. Mr. Tony expands the label by saying Tango. This is your new
dog, Tango. Lara beams as the children get excited. I got a dog like
that! Emilio says, He is black too. Mr. Tony holds up another picture
and asks, What is Tango doing in this picture, Lara?

Teachable Mr. Tony expands on the information because he had the

moment background provided by Laras father. Mr. Tony makes it
possible for Lara to join the others and have a turn at sharing.
Childrens interactions with Lara may increase because now
they have a connection to Lara and her dog.

The following interactions and strate- and must go to the doctor; Grandma
gies support preschool children: is coming for a visit, and the house
must be cleaned) are stories. Creating
Build on preschool childrens own
their own stories in play helps children
experiences. By asking children to
understand stories that are read to them
recount simple daily experiences such as,
and is preparation for reading. In circle
What do you do when you wake up in
time, teachers start a story with, Once
the morning, before you come to school?
upon a time there was a big brown bear
teachers give children a chance to tell
who walked quietly up to . . . and let
a story about a routine they know very
each child add a piece of the story while
well. Children will often take more risks
moving around the circle.
in their home language. A teacher who
invites stories from children in their home Give story stems. Sometimes if the
language conveys respect for the home teacher just suggests, The funniest
language. Children also learn English thing that happened to me was . . .
from the teachers translation. For more children will fill in the blank with inter-
information about strategies to support esting responses. Or ask children in a
children who are English learners, see small-group setting to close their eyes
Chapter 5. and imagine that they are somewhere
else instead of in preschool . . . Then the
Use dramatic play and co-construct
teachers asks the children to take turns
stories. Encourage children to dress
answering, Where are you? And who else
up and pretend. The scripts children
is there?
create for their play (e.g., baby gets sick



2.0 Vocabulary

T he number of words that children

learn is strongly related to later school
success, because reading comprehension
language they hear in school settings and
children can better ask questions about
language and literacy contexts (e.g.,
depends on it.45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50 So too, is the What letter is that? Whose name is
diversity of the words they know. Children that? What does extinct mean?).
who know many names for things, for The vocabulary substrand is organized
example, can be more specific in repre- around three areas:
senting what they mean, in telling people Understanding and using words for
what they want, and in understanding objects, actions, and attributes
what others say to them and the mean- Understanding and using words for
ing of language in books. Children who categories of things and actions
know names for actions and events can Understanding and using words for
use their language fluently to describe simple and complex relations between
the things going on around them, as well objects
as what was and what can be. The lan-
guage children develop as their vocabu-
lary grows allows them to escape into
new imaginary worlds, to solve problems
with words (e.g., How can I get the swing
when Jonny is still on it?) and to predict
what will happen next in a book or story.
When children know literacy-related
vocabulary (e.g., word, vocabulary, pro-
nounce, sounds, meaning, letter, sentence),
they will better understand instructional

Understanding and Using Words for Objects,

Actions, and Attributes

Preschool children need a vault filled with common words at the

start of their journey into language and literacy. That journey
begins when they learn the conventional names of familiar objects,
actions, and attributes. Some children may speak a dialect of Eng-
lish that uses different words, and others will speak a different
language or communicate through sign language or an alternative
system. All children need exposure to conventional words.

Vignette In response to the construction outside their classroom, the room

is filled with activity as children use their plastic hammers and
wrenches, tool belts, and benches. The planned curriculum includes
a Construction Unit. Outside the window, the children can see the
cranes move and the workers in hard hats. They hear the sound of



hammer against nail. This week the teacher reads to the class sto-
ries about construction equipment and information books about how
tall buildings are made. The construction outside gives Ms. Vase an
opportunity to expose children to the names of common and even
not-so-common tools. Ms. Vase sent home a one-page newsletter in
the languages of families represented in her classroom, telling par-
ents about the Construction Unit and about vocabulary children are
learning. She asked if any parents who are builders or carpenters
would like to come to class to share their experiences.

Planning What a fun, engaging, and meaningful vocabulary experi-

learning ence this is for children as they watch the construction out-
opportunities side! Ms. Vase also found ways to connect with families. Ms.
Vase tells the class the names of some of the common tools
in another language children speak. She brings some tools
from home to put on display, labeled in several languages.

The following interactions and strate- Whats my name? Names of things

gies support preschool children: come at different levels. There are types
of trucks (e.g., tow truck, dump truck,
Build on childrens interests. Notice
cement truck), the general category
where children look and then talk about
truck, or the larger category, vehicles,
the things that are the focus of atten-
that includes trucks. Young preschool
tion and action, using interesting, rich
children know the names of categories
vocabulary. This simple but basic strat-
they encounter frequentlytoys, food,
egy makes people more sensitive listeners
clothes, or animals. Many children may
and children better learners. Oh, that is
know those words in two languages. As
a . . . (e.g., solid, heavy) truck. How are
preschoolers develop their understanding
you thinking that you might use it? Be
of things in the world, their use of catego-
sure to follow a childs interests. If you
ries expands: reptiles, planets, vehicles,
see a child examining a door hinge, you
fruits, vegetables, and furniture. As care-
might ask, I think you might be won-
givers, teachers, and parents name and
dering what that is. It is called a hinge,
describe the things that children notice,
and it attaches a door to the wall but
children learn more names of things.
also allows the door to move. Do you see
Yet it is desirable for children not only
where the hinge is attached to the door
to know nouns, but also to learn com-
and to the wall? Yes, its interesting to
mon names of actions (e.g., Wow, you
open and close the door to see how it
run really fast. Can you run even faster?)
works. After a few moments, suggest
and properties too (e.g., It looks like this
that the child find other hinges. If pos-
brush has stiffer bristles than that one).
sible, bring an unattached hinge for the
Young preschool children also use words
child to explore the next day. This will
such as under, in, and different. Older
increase a childs understanding of how
preschool children begin to use words to
a hinge is designed and what makes it
describe relations between objects such
as next to and in front of.



Language in, language out . . . Narrate! slowly). Thats rightherbivores dont

Narration is another effective way to eat meatonly plants. Do you know any
build childrens vocabulary. Preparing people who dont eat meat? What do we
for snack time is a teachable moment for call people who dont eat meat?
the children who are near the teacher
More word games. Familiar games such
as she shares, as if to herself, Okay,
as Simon Says can teach language. For
lets put the apple juice on the table and
example, Simon Says point to the squir-
then well need to get eight napkins.
rel. Point to the alligator. Playing the
Even long words, such as herbivore,
game I Spy as in I spy . . . a rectangle,
can be a part of natural conversation if
is also language-rich. Sing songs in the
that word is used many times and across
home language and in English. Words
contexts. For example, a teacher may ask
accompanied by melodies are easily
a class, Did you know that the dinosaur
called Apatosaurus is an herbivore? (said

Understanding and Using Words for Categories

of Things and Actions

Most words name categories rather than single objects; for

example, chair can be applied to many kinds of chairs, from
dining room chairs to beanbag chairs. And chair fits into another
category called furniture. When we learn the names of categories,
we are learning where one category begins and another ends.
For example, what defines walking versus running?
VIGNETTE Im gonna play the drums, the flute, and the guitar today, said
Thats great, responded the teacher. You play a lot of instru-
ments! Does anyone in your family also play an instrument?

TEAChAbLE Here the teacher responded directly to the child and offered
MOMENT a new category word. The teacher also took the opportu-
nity to continue the conversation by connecting home and
school. By adding to the conversation, the teacher was even
able to use the new word instrument twice.

PLANNING There are many words for many different actions. Teachers
LEARNING can make a list of different actions they see children doing
OPPORTUNITIES while outdoors. On another day these action words can
guide a movement game for children (e.g., Can you hop
on one foot?). In action songs at circle time, teachers can
build in various large- and small-motor actions by adding
more verses to those in the original songs.



Many strategies for building better Can you put the circles in the green box
vocabularies work equally well for category and the squares in the red box?
learning. Teachers may use categories of Lets put the fruit in the bowl and the
actions and attributes. Even though run- vegetables in the box.
ning looks very different when done by an
Olympian and a toddler, both examples All the children with curly hair, please
are called running. Similarly, categories wash your hands for snack.
for attributes such as colors or shapes One of the best ways to learn categories
contain items that look very different. is by having a stock of books that con-
The following strategy supports stitute a category, such as shape books,
preschool children: animal books, and food books.
Playing category games. Four- and five-
year-olds love sorting games:

Understanding and Using Words for Simple

and Complex Relations Between Objects

Words that describe relationships such as in front of and behind

or big and little can be difficult for children. These words can also
be more difficult because some of these words vary by language.
For example, Korean children do not use words such as in and
on but rather describe items as fitting tightly (e.g., an interlocking
block on another interlocking block or foot in a sock) or loosely
(e.g., apple in bowl or a book on a table).

Vignette Okay. We need to get organized so we can take a picture. You will
know your place if you listen closely as we play the Where Do I
Go? game. Ying, would you please stand at the front of the line?
Vang, would you please stand at the back of the line? Sayed, can
you go next to Po? John, please go to the middle of the line. Ivan,
please go behind Sarita.

Planning Here the teacher incorporated specific language learning

learning in a transition, making it necessary for children to listen
to the words for various spatial relations. Even simple
routines, such as going on a neighborhood walk, can be
full of language that children need to learn. A language
game allows children to learn vocabulary about spatial
relations without even realizing it and have fun, too! From
the childs perspective, she is getting ready to do something
or to go somewhere, even though the teacher also has clear
language goals in mind.



As before, vocabulary is best learned raisin? Every so often, put all the plastic
in the context of meaningful exchanges dishes and flatware used in the dramatic
and by following childrens interests. play area in the water table. Add sudsy
The interactions and strategies listed for water and provide dishcloths for children
vocabulary on pages 118120 work well to wash and dry them. To put them back
with a few additions: in the dramatic play area, children must
notice the difference between big and
Detective work. Same and different:
little plates and type of item (e.g., glasses,
Show three pictures of bears, two that are
knives, forks). The teacher can talk about
exactly the same and one that is differ-
the difference that children are noticing
ent. Can children find the one that is the
(e.g., Oh, you put the big plates on the
same? The one that is different? When
table today).
children seem to understand same and
different, make the game a little harder Routines: here we go again! Daily class-
by playing it at a higher category level. room routines represents the many ways
An example is the category of animals. A for teachers to use language over and
bear and a cat are in the same category, over again to name categories and spatial
but an airplane is in a different category. and numerical relations. Simple, repeti-
tive classroom routines, with a little fore-
Do the same thing with concepts, such
thought, can be a goldmine for childrens
as big and little: Three toy elephants of
language learning. Phrases such as, Put
different heights and weights are placed
the chairs under the table, Make sure
side by side. Can you find the big stuffed
everyone gets the same number of crack-
animal? Or this strategy may be used
ers (at snack time), and, Who has more?
with raisins: Can you find the big (small)
Jorge or Chaya? all use spatial and rela-
tional terms that children need to know.
Language opportunities in childrens
art. Children love to draw. As children
express themselves artistically, use spa-
tial language to engage them in telling
about their drawings. What is in the
middle of the picture? Tell me about
this part down here near the bottom.
This part up here at the top reminds me
of an animal or a person. Can you tell me
about this part? By exposing preschool
children to spatial terms and category
names and by asking them to talk about
their drawings, teachers tell children that
their drawings have meaning worthy of



3.0 Grammar

G rammar holds words together to

form sentences. Children learn to
use grammatical words and elements
ing is his, not yours? Thank you. I didnt
know it was his). When a teachers turn
in a conversation recasts or expands on
during the preschool years from parents what children have said and uses com-
and teachers. When children say the plete sentences rather than just words,
simple sentence, The boys want milk, it builds on what children already know
they are using English word order and while helping them learn more. These
the grammatical elements the and s that strategies are particularly helpful to
indicate meaning. The s on boys tells the children who are English learners or to
listener that there is more than one boy; children who may have special difficulties
the suggests that this is a specific group in learning language. For children who
of boys. More complex sentences involve are deaf or hard of hearing, a teacher of
describing the item (e.g., chocolate milk) the deaf and hard of hearing should be
or joining two thoughts (e.g., The boys consulted about the grammar of sign
want chocolate milk, but the girls want language.
juice). Preschool children move from
using simple constructions to complex
sentences with two separate thoughts
and even complex connectors such as
but and before (e.g., I want to go play at
Juanitas house, but my mother said I
need to help her with my baby sister for a
little while before I go).
As children learn grammar, they some-
times notice a patternsuch as ed on
verbs such as cracked and played to
indicate that something took place in the
past. Sometimes children extend the use
The grammar substrand is organized
of ed more widely than they should, (e.g.,
around two areas:
cutted, eated, breaked, and falled). These
charming overgeneralizations show that First, it focuses on how children
children pay close attention to the lan- understand and use increasingly
guage they hear and are thinking. Chil- complex and longer sentences.
dren also make errors using pronouns, Second, it focuses on how children
saying, Her and I played when She and understand and use age-appropriate
I . . . is correct. Children also say, Her grammatical bits such as subject-
did it, and Its hims. Teachers can help verb agreement (e.g., He walks; they
children learn conventional grammatical walk), progressive tense (e.g., walking),
forms by repeating what children com- regular and irregular past tense (e.g.,
municate, using the correct forms (e.g., walked, went), regular and irregular
Oh, I see. Your brother broke your pin- plurals (e.g., pails, oxen), pronouns
wheel. Im sorry. How did it happen? Or, (e.g., him, it), and possessives (e.g.,
Oh, you are telling me that this paint- mine, not mines).



Understanding and Typically Using Age-Appropriate Grammar

Communicating effectively often requires that children knit

together two or three ideas into a single sentence. Teachers
can encourage children to use increasingly complex and longer
sentences by modeling them, especially in conversations with

VIGNETTE Her hitted me! an indignant Pedro says loudly as he marches

over to tell on Maristella. Ms. Futman is pleased that Pedro did not
hit back.
Ms. Futman says to Pedro, Pedro, did she hit you? Pedro shakes
his head violently. Ms. Futman notices that Maristella is watching
and suggests to Pedro, Please tell Maristella, We dont hit people
in our classroom. Ms. Futman invites Maristella to think of how
she can make Pedro feel better.

TEAChAbLE Language and communication are involved in all areas in

MOMENT the classroom: from conveying lessons in good behavior
to sharing necessary social conventions. By rephrasing
what Pedro said and by giving him a rationale to repeat to
Maristella for why hitting is not acceptable, Ms. Futman
serves as a model of increasingly correct and complex usage.

VIGNETTE Noticing that some children used their pronouns incorrectly, Mr.
Gold invented a game that required children to use pronouns. He
gathered some children in a small group and gave one child a small
box. He asked the group, Who has the box?
They all yelled, Sadie!
Then he said, Whose box is it?
They said, Sadies!
Who would have the box if Sadie gave it to the child next to her?
Again they responded, although much slower this time. Jorge!
Mr. Gold said, Give it to Jorge, Sadie. Is it her box now?
No, Susie yelled, Its his box! and on and on.

PLANNING A teacher can plan an enjoyable activity that models correct

LEARNING pronoun usage. The more often children hear correct pro-
OPPORTUNITIES noun usages modeled by their teacher and other children,
the more likely they are to correct their own pronoun errors.



The following interactions and strate- Spin narratives. The teacher, Ms. Ship
gies support preschool children: ley, told the children one morning, What
Talk one on one with children. Have do you think happened yesterday when
conversations with individual children I went to the grocery store? I saw a man
whenever possible. Talk about what in a clown suit! He had a big red nose
children are involved in and eager to and giant floppy feet! Why do you think
discuss. Make responses depend on he was there? If you tell stories about
what they say, repeating childrens everyday events, children will be encour-
contribution with more elaborated aged to do the same. Asking children to
sentence structures, modeling appro predict what will happen next and other
priate grammar when children make questions about a story models language
an error (e.g., foots feet), and adding and gets them to talk, too. By having
grammatical elements when they leave children use language without an imme-
things out. When a child says, I see diately relevant context, teachers are
Sarah coat, the teacher might say, You preparing them for learning to read. See
are right! That is Sarahs coat with the Research Highlight on page 99.
emphasis on the possessive s.
Know your families and individual
children. Children whose home language
is not English often need special encour-
agement to talk in their new language.
Children with language or cognitive
disabilities often need additional clues to
help them know when and how to join a
conversation. Starting with topics that
children know a lot about makes it is
easy for them to enter the conversation.
Family members, foods, and toys are
good choices for topics, as all children
have experiences with them. For more
information about strategies to support
children who are English learners, see
Chapter 5. Children with disabilities may
also need encouragement or additional
cues to join a conversation.



Bringing It All Together

Small-group reading time was finished, tools. As Julio now joined the others,
and Ms. Harrington placed the builder she asked the three children, What
book that some had been reading are you using to build? They excitedly
face out on the shelf as the children responded, naming some of the tools
dispersed to choose their own activ- they had just learned.
ity. Peter, Mariana, and Julio made a
beeline for the block area. Im going to Here the teacher has done a superb job
be the builder, announced Peter. Lets of integrating the reading at small-group
build a fire station! time with opportunities during child-
Okay, Ill use the hammer, Mariana initiated play. Understanding that read-
suggested as she reached for the plastic ing and language work hand in hand, she
hammer and pretended to pound each prepared the block area with construc-
brick into place. tion tools and the dramatic play area with
Lets put all of the big blocks on the dress-up clothes used by builders. Ms.
bottom, continued Peter. Harrington also knows that when she
makes learning language interesting and
Their play continued as they arranged
fun, the children will use the language
and talked about the squares and
they learn in new contexts. This strategy
rectangles, the opening for the doors, helps children cement their understand-
and the place for extra trucks. After six ing of word meanings. They talk about
minutes, Julio, who was watching from hammers and wrenches, big blocks,
the sidelines, made an abrupt move,
rectangles, and what is on the bottom
grabbing Peters hammer while insist-
of whatall vocabulary terms that were
ing in Spanish, Me toca a m (Its my
introduced in the book they read about
turn),as he pushed Peter to the side builders. These words are about both
knocking down some of the carefully
objects and relations.
placed blocks.
When Julio changes the play context
Ms. Harrington gently intervened, into one of confrontation, the observant
Julio, ask Peter, May I use the teacher gently intervenes while allowing
hammer when you are finished? the play to continue. She also reinforces
Julio modeled after his teacher, using that she understands the childs home
both English and Spanish: May I use language while encouraging the use of
the martillo (hammer)? Peter agreed to English. She models context-appropriate
share in two minutes and continued speech for Julio, as children will say what
to build with Mariana. they hear. She wisely offers Julio new
options, which makes it easier for him
Ms. Harrington then put her arm
to wait for his turn and also exposes him
around Julio, stooped down to his level,
more to the vocabulary of tools. Stimu
smiled, and asked, Would you like to
lating even more talk, she then asks a
use another tool until Peter is done?
question at the end that puts the children
Theres a wrench and a screwdriver,
in charge as they tell her about their
as she pointed to the remaining plastic



Engaging Families share collections of each childs work

with parentsincluding art, writing,

T he following strategies can help fami-

lies in developing their childrens
listening and speaking abilities:
and books they have heardthis will
encourage parents to keep the conver-
sation going at home.
Take the learning home. To get fami- Invite parents to come to the class-
lies talking, send them ideas written room and speak with you. Parents
in their home language of what to look sharing of their stories, hopes, and
for on the weekend (e.g., a blackbird). concerns with teachers helps teachers
Topics to talk about and stories to tell understand what is happening in chil-
together can be used to spur conver- drens lives. A new baby? A divorce or
sation, reading, writing, scribbling, even a visit from Grandma may influ-
and drawing. Teachers can also send ence childrens behavior in the class-
home a brief newsletter to give par- room. When teachers are partners
ents information about what is hap- with parents, they can better under-
pening at school. For example, if the stand changes they see in children.
class went to the zoo, parents might Connect home and school. Think
be encouraged to borrow books about about doing projects in which children
animals from the library to read with bring something from home. Perhaps
their children or just to extend conver- a picture of a brother or sister will
sations about zoo animals by talking inspire children to talk to their peers
about animals at home. and maybe to draw their own brother
Communicate with parents. Teach- or sister.
ers and parents are always partners in
allowing each child to thrive. Teachers
should be comfortable about sharing
triumphs with the childrens families.
Share some of the stories about chil-
drens accomplishments with parents,
such as when a child who is new to
the program asks a question in front
of a group of children. If a child has a
favorite book or friend, parents would
love to know this. If teachers can



Questions for Reflection

1. Examine your daily schedule, routines, and your learning
environments to make sure that you have time and spaces for
child-initiated play, guided play, and teacher-initiated small-
and whole-group experiences.
2. How would you go about assembling a group of language-rich
materials (e.g., posters, tools, games) to enrich a focus or topic
area in which children have shown an interest?
3. How would you respond to Julio?
4. How might you encourage children to use their language in play
to exchange information, to negotiate roles in play, and to convey
politeness toward a play partner?
5. What are you already doing in your classroom to build connections
between reading and language? How can you make this connection
even stronger?
6. How do you know whether you are succeeding in building chil-
drens language? What indicators do you look for?
7. What are you already doing to connect home and school, and can
you think of ways to strengthen this connection?
8. In what ways do you provide opportunities for children to hear and
see a variety of languages and means of expression in the learning
environment and use these in their interactions at preschool?





eading billboards effortlessly on a car ride or making a shopping
list involves literacy skills. Literacy includes both reading and writ-
ing. Literacy is also involved when people understand language and
know enough about the world to comprehend the books they read. Chil-
dren hear many books read aloud before they can read for themselves, and
they can use scribbles to represent the thoughts they compose before they
will use conventional print. Literacy does not develop overnight; it comes
from being talked to and read to and from being encouraged to look at
books, to draw, and to write. Children start on their journey to literacy at
birth through visual and auditory observation of their world and through
interactions with people and materials, in a variety of daily experiences,
both at home and at school.

Reading provides access to meaning represented by print. It requires the

translation of print into speech and the interpretation of meaning. Read-
ing depends heavily on oral vocabulary and grammar and also on specific
literacy knowledge (e.g., names of alphabet letters) and skills (e.g., detect-
ing sounds in spoken words). Preschool children
engage in reading by listening to stories and by
retelling familiar books. They also engage in read-
ing when they interpret environmental print by
using physical clues (e.g., the stop sign is the red
one at the end of their street) or
when they reenact through
play the literacy-related social
behavior of family members
(e.g., making a shopping list or
pretending to read the cooking
directions on a food box).


1.0 Concepts About Print

C oncepts about print involve the

understanding that print conveys
specific meanings and is used for a vari
represent sounds in spoken words, are
addressed in sections 2.0, Phonological
Awareness, and 3.0, Alphabetics and
ety of purposes. Reading grocery lists, Word/Print Recognition (see pages 133
messages on street signs, menus, and and 140).
storybooks are all examples of how peo Children with visual impairments can
ple find meaning in the squiggles on a learn letters of the alphabet and about
page. Concepts about print also include print without being able to see typical
knowledge about different print units and print. Access to printed alphabet letters
their names (e.g., letter, word, sentence, is possible through the use of large print,
and punctuation marks) and about some color contrast, lighting, or braille, which
basic print conventions. For example, uses a symbol system based on combi-
in English and in many other languages, nations of from one to six raised dots.
conventions include reading print from Teachers should consult a vision instruc-
the left to right and from the top to the tion specialist to assist young children
bottom of a page, and turning pages of with vision loss in getting access to print
a book, moving through it from front to or in learning to read braille symbols.
back. In Chinese, calligraphic characters Preschool foundations for concepts
are arranged in columns read from top about print are as follows:
to bottom. In Hebrew, print is arranged Book-handling behaviors and knowl-
from right to left, not left to right. Related edge of print conventions
areas of print awareness, such as learn Understanding that print can be read
ing to recognize and name specific alpha and conveys specific meanings
bet letters and understanding that letters

Vignette Pairs of children walk hand in hand to return to their classroom

after playing outside. Sasha stops walking, points to a sign posted
in the hallway, and says to Yasmin, her partner, That sign says
to be quiet because the babies are sleeping. In a soft voice, the
teacher says, Yes, we are walking past the babies room. Weve
talked about how they might be sleeping. This sign says, Remem-
ber to Walk. Do you think we need to make another sign for the
hallway, one to remind us to talk softly? The children agree that
the second sign is needed, and several offer to help.

Teachable The teacher had often pointed out the signs in the hallway
moment to the children. In previous years, when children with
visual impairments were in the class, the teacher made
sure to point out large print or braille signs. When Sasha
read the hallway sign, she knew that print carries
meaning, but she did not understand the specific meaning



of the hallway sign. Using a natural opportunity to read a

posted sign, the teacher demonstrated not only that print
can be read but also that it has specific meaning.

Vignette Later, the teacher asked Sasha if she would like to make the new
talking softly sign and invited any other children who were
interested to help. The teacher gave each of the three children
who chose this activity a word printed out individually and kept
one herself. The words (e.g., soft, use, voices, please) were those
needed to create the new sign, but the teacher did not specify the
exact wording for the message, knowing that the same basic mes-
sage could be worded in different ways (e.g., Use Soft Voices,
Please; Please Use Soft Voices). After some back-and-forth discus-
sion, the children decided that the sign should read, Please Use
Soft Voices. The teacher then prompted the children to put the word
cards down on the table and arranged them in the order of the sen-
tence the children had agreed upon. After all the words were on the
table in the right order, the children glued the words onto a piece
of poster board to make the sign and then helped the teacher post
it in the hallway beside the other sign. Once the new sign was up,
the teacher led the children in reading both signs.

Having children discuss the word order drew them into
considering the specific meaning of print and how to
arrange print from left to right. The teachers intentional
use of the new sign was part of a plan that positioned
children to read both the new and old signs and to
distinguish between the signs when passing through the
hallway on subsequent days. It also inspired them to
read the new sign to peers. Had the class included a child
with a visual impairment or who was blind, the teacher
would have printed the words in much larger print or
made the words in two forms, one using alphabet letters,
the other using braille. The teacher also planned another
sign-making activity for small groups where all children
participated. These signs were for a grocery store (e.g.,
Dairy Products, Fresh Produce, Canned Goods, Store
Hours, Open, Closed) set up near the dramatic play area.
Children placed their signs in the store, where they had
already grouped empty food boxes and cans and some
plastic models of food. The children had observed the same
things in a visit to a neighborhood grocery store prior to
setting up their play store.



The following interactions and strate- for the child. For more information about
gies support the development of concepts strategies to support children who are
about print: English learners, see Chapter 5.
Provide print props to support drama Use literacy terminology to help
tic play. Stock the play kitchen with a children learn it. Use the terms letter
range of food containers representing and word naturally as children engage
those in childrens homes. Include food with print-related materials and in
and toiletry coupons, newspaper flyer ads reading and writing situations (e.g., Oh,
in multiple languages, simple homemade youve put many of the letters back into
cookbooks, and telephone directories. the puzzle. Or, Everyone can help me
Emergency telephone numbers (e.g., read the words in the title of our book
poison control, fire department, doctors (points to the words as each is read)
office) may be posted on the play refrig- Caps . . . for . . . Sale). Label specific
erator door. Children also enjoy having punctuation marks when creating these
some small cardboard books to read to in a writing context. For example, when
their babies. a childs dictates a story, the child
exclaims, They are yelling for help! The
Provide print props for a variety of
teacher responds, You are using a very
play themes in the dramatic play and
important vocabulary wordyellingin
block areas. Replicate the experiences
your story. I can see how excited and
children have in the world with written
worried the people are in your story. Im
materials by providing props to support
going to use a punctuation mark called an
play of other themes, such as the doctors
exclamation point to help your mommy
office (e.g., appointment book, eye chart)
know when she reads your story that the
or going to a restaurant (e.g., menus,
people need help right away.
specials signs, food order pads). Support
and respect children who communicate Use print to support classroom
in other languages. Use print in other routines. Post limits for children in areas
languages on items such as on menus where needed. For example, faces may
and signs. Paper and markers may be be drawn to designate the limit (and the
included in the block area for children to number word beneath each face). Near
make road signs and billboards. Notepads sinks, hang a labeled poster showing
and markers for making shopping lists hand-washing techniques. Other signs
are in the dramatic play area. Include remind everyone of important things to
other print props and raw materials, do (e.g., Please Turn Lights Off over light
wherever needed, in response to chil- switches; Please Use Soft Voices in the
drens interests. book or library area; Remember to Walk,
in a hallway leading to the kitchen or the
Use print to designate interest areas.
playground). Post a large, printed daily
Children pick up the importance of writ-
schedule, with each segment illustrated.
ten language incidentally if the classroom
Create copies of the segments of the
contains signs designating various areas.
posted daily schedule on small cards, and
Post signs written in multiple languages
place them on a tray in a puzzle interest
in each classroom area (e.g., Block Area,
area. During choice time, children some-
Area de Bloques, ; Art Area, Area de
times enjoy putting the cards in the order
Arte, ). Including a picture or
of the daily schedule or rearranging the
icon, along with the written word, helps
schedule in a playful way.
to scaffold the meaning of the written text



Read environmental print. On walks, Model basic print conventions. When

read print on road signs, storefronts, and reading book, poem, and nursery rhyme
passing vehicles (e.g., bus stop, school bus) titles, underline the words from left to
to children. Inside the interest area or right. Also underline childrens names
preschool, help children notice environ- and the names of helper chart jobs, as
mental print, such as signs for mens and these are reviewed each day. Gesture spe-
womens restrooms, exits, and the occu- cifically to the print (e.g., point to each
pants or uses of rooms (e.g., Director, Staff word to track the print from left to right).
Room, Caterpillar Classroom), by point- Write down interesting words as they
ing out and reading the signs. Many such come up and encourage verbal explana-
signs include braille symbols, and children tions of word meaning. To create inter-
are often interested in why those dots are est in discovering and learning vocabu-
there and how Ariel uses her fingers to lary and to link spoken words to print,
figure out what they say. write on a small whiteboard new words
Use print as a tool to get things done that come up throughout the day. Take
and to record information. Write steps care not to interrupt a child telling about
on a chart for small-group activities an event. After the child finishes talk-
requiring specific directions (e.g., cooking, ing, a teacher might say, I noticed that
planting seeds). Pictures of the steps will you used the word gigantic to describe
help connect the print to the directions the large crane you saw at the construc-
for each step. Printed titles of songs and tion site. I am going to write that word
poems may be filed in a box. Teachers give down! Name each letter as it is written
children turns to select a poem or song to down, then read the word back to the
add to the selections for circle time. Pro- child, underlining it from left to right.
vide Yes and No checklists for childrens Later, in a small- or whole-group set-
use in documenting explorations, such as ting, read each word listed on the white-
testing objects with a magnet or testing board and provide context information:
materials reactions to water. This word (underlining it) says gigantic.
Use print to support teacher-guided Nathaniel, will you tell everyone what you
activities. Illustrated charts of poems saw that was gigantic and what gigantic
and nursery rhymes for use at circle time means? Definitional vocabulary skill
provide meaningful opportunities for using (i.e., being able to explain verbally what
print. Interesting, key words from familiar a word means) is more beneficial to read-
songs and poems (e.g., moo-moo, from ing comprehension than is simpler iden-
Old MacDonald Had a Farm; fiddle-ee- tification vocabulary.51 Expand a childs
fee, fiddle-ee-fee from Barnyard Song) explanation or prompt the child to do so.
may be printed on paper strips and For example, if Nathaniel says, I saw a
mounted on felt pieces for arranging on great big crane, the teacher might say,
a felt board. Children enjoy using these Yes, and when you told me about it, you
materials as a choice during child- said it was a gigantic crane. That was a
initiated play and sometimes take their wonderful word to use, because gigan-
dolls to the circle time area and pretend tic means . . . (teacher pauses to let
to be the teacher. Nathaniel explain).



2.0 Phonological Awareness

P honological awareness is the ability

to notice and manipulate the sounds
in spoken language. If children are
ness to reading comes from linking indi-
vidual sounds in spoken words to sym-
bols (i.e., letters) used in written words.
invited to play with language and to par- Without an underlying understanding of
ticipate in specific, sound-focused activi- sounds in spoken wordswithout pho-
ties, they will first detect and manipulate nological awarenesschildren will not
larger chunks of spoken language: words understand the phonics lessons (i.e., the
in compound words, syllables in words, direct teaching of letter-sound relation-
then smaller chunks, such as onset and ships) their first-grade teachers provide.
rime portions of words (e.g., /b/ in bat For more information on letter-sound
is the onset; /at/ in bat is the rime) relationships, see the strategies on page
and, eventually individual sounds 144. A teacher of the deaf should be con-
phonemes (e.g., /c/-/a/-/t/)in spoken sulted for strategies that are appropriate
words. for children who are deaf or hard of
Phonological awareness is not an oral hearing.
language skill that focuses on meaning. Phonological awareness does not
It is the ability to detect or manipulate develop naturally over time, but as a
the sounds in spoken words, without consequence of childrens engagement in
attending to their meaning. Phonological specific experiences. Children will need
awareness can refer to the detection or to reach phoneme-level awareness (e.g.,
manipulation of large and concrete units understand bat as the series /b/ /a/ /t/)
of sounds, such as words and syllables, if they are to understand reading instruc-
or to smaller units, such as onsets tion later in school. Most children achieve
(e.g., the /t/ in tail), rimes (e.g., the the phoneme segmentation level of aware-
/ail/ in tail), and phonemes (e.g., the ness in kindergarten, although older
/c/ /a/ /t/ in cat). Phoneme aware preschool children sometimes reach this
ness, one subtype of phonological aware- level. The majority of phonological aware-
ness, is the ability to detect and manip- ness strategies discussed in this chapter
ulate the smallest units of sound in are designed for use with four-year-olds
wordsphonemes. Phonological aware- (i.e., children between 48 and 60 months
ness is not the teaching or learning of of age), but not three-year-olds (i.e., chil-
letter-sound relationships. Phonological dren between 36 and 48 months of age).
awareness is an important early literacy The preschool foundations in phono-
skill to develop because it makes pos- logical awareness are as follows:
sible childrens later understanding that Blend and delete words and syllables
the sound sequences in spoken words without picture support.
are related to the letters in written words. Blend onset, rimes, and phonemes and
Phonological awareness can be devel- delete onsets with picture or object
oped in children without any reference support of pictures or objects.
to print, even though its eventual useful-



VIGNETTE Ms. Sheck engages children in word play, explaining that she will
say two words and put them together to make another: If I say
rain first and then say drop right after it, I make the word rain-
drop. If I say fire and then say the word fly, I make the word fire-
fly. Okay, now you help me: If I say rain first and then say coat
right after it, what word does it make? A child answers, rainbow.
Another says, raincoat. Ms. Sheck says, Actually, if I say rain first
and say coat right after it, I make raincoat. If I say rain first and
then say bow, what word do I make? Children answer, rainbow.
Yes, rainbow. You are learning how this game works. Lets make
a few more words. This time well start with sun and say another
word right after it. Okay, here we go: If I say sun and then say
shine right after it, what word do I get?

PLANNING Knowing that children need considerable guidance to

LEARNING learn to blend two words to create new ones, Ms. Sheck
models the blending and then asks children to do it. By
continuing with different pairs of words to blend, using sun
as the first word and another relevant word for the second
word (e.g., sun-shine, sun-set, sun-rise), she provides more
opportunities for children to learn how to blend.

TEAChAbLE In any planned activity, teachers observe children and use

MOMENT whatever they observe to adapt to childrens individual
needs. When a child creates a compound word composed of
the teachers first key word but not the second, the teacher
again models blending to provide more instruction and
then provides two words for the child to blend. She uses
words the child had offered earlier, as a mistaken guess. In
this first experience for the child, Ms. Sheck knew that a
balance between modeling and giving the child a turn to try
was required. She used childrens responses to judge when
to return to modeling and when to give the children another
opportunity to blend words.

VIGNETTE After singing Down by the Bay at circle time, Mr. Zhang used an
illustrated book to review the song and engage children in playing
with some sounds in the words: Heres the funny bear, combing
his hair. Bear, /b/-/ear/; hair, /h/-/air/. The last parts of those
words [i.e., the rime portion] sound the same, dont they? They
rhyme. Several children agreed enthusiastically. And whos on
this page?
The llama, shout several children.
Eating his /p/ . . . (pause) Mr. Zhang continued.



Pajamas! several children called out.

As he turned the page, several children called out, The fly with a
Yes, the fl-y wearing a t-ie. Before I turn the next page, Ill give you
a clue about what youll see next: A /wh/-ale . . .
A whale! the children called out.
With a polka-dot /t/-ail, the teacher continued.
Tail, several children called out.

Mr. Zhang planned this song because he knows that chil-
dren love songs and poems full of rhyming words. He also
knows that mere exposure to rhyming words, whether
through songs or poems, does not support phonological
awareness at the levels children need. Reviewing the song
with a book provided an opportunity for Mr. Zhang to say
the words with their onset and rime portions separated, to
stress the common rime portions for each rhyming pair, and
to use the word rhyming to help children understand what
it means (i.e., as a vocabulary teaching opportunity). (See
Appendix B.)

VIGNETTE Given the childrens high engagement, Mr. Zhang continued for a
few more minutes to engage the children in playing with segment-
ing and blending onset and rime units. I have an idea of another
word that has /air/ as its last part, like b-ear and h-air. Ill give
you a clue about the word I am thinking of: /k/. . . . When no one
answered after a brief pause, Mr. Zhang said, C-are.
Several children said, Care!
Mr. Zhang said this was the word he was thinking of and added,
The last part of care is /air/, just like in b-ear and h-air.
Before Mr. Zhang could continue with the onset clue for another
example, a child said, I know one: gare!
Mr. Zhang said, Yes, gare, g-are, sounds like b-ear and h-air. Its
last part is /air/.
Then another child said, No, its not one.
Mr. Zhang replied, Are you thinking that gare is a made-up word,
not a real word?
Yes, said the child, Its not a right word.
Mr. Zhang then explained that silly words were okay to use when
we are playing with sounds in words.



TEAChAbLE When no one guessed the word after Mr. Zhang gave the
onset clue, he provided both the onset and rime units for
the children to blend. Mr. Zhang then isolated the rime
units to make explicit how this word was like bear and
hair. In the explanation, the teacher separated the rime
portion (e.g., /air/) of the nonsense word from its onset,
which helped the children to focus on the relevant unit of
sound in this task and to understand that phonological
awareness tasks focus on sounds in words, not on their
meanings. Mr. Zhang supported childrens confidence by
acknowledging that gare was correct and explaining why it
was appropriate to use a nonsense word in this situation.

VIGNETTE A small group of children and Ms. Fontana look at four pictures on
the table. Ms. Fontana explains, I say a word and ask you to say
it without its first sound to make a new word. The new word is the
name of one of these pictures. This is a picture of a block of ice.
These are some little insects we call ants. Whats this picture? An
ear, the children say. And this one, the teacher asks, prompting
the children to identify the egg. Okay, lets start. If I say leg and
you say leg without the /l/ sound [i.e., the onset], what word is
it? Leg without /l/? The children look at the pictures. Suddenly,
one child points to the picture of the egg and says, Thats it! The
other children say egg! Yes, leg without /l/ is /eg/. Okay, heres
the next word: If I say rice without the /r/ sound [i.e., the onset],
what word is it? The children scan the pictures and soon say ice.
Youre getting good at guessing the words, Ms. Fontana tells the
children. Lets do another one!

PLANNING Ms. Fontana knows that deleting the onset of a word to

create a new word is new for the children. She provides
pictures as supports, reviews their names before starting
the game, and also repeats the word and the sound to
delete when presenting the first few examples. Because
the game is new, the children are concentrating not only
on understanding their task but also on remembering the
word and the sound in it they are asked to delete from its
beginning. It helps children to hear more than once the
word and the specific sound to delete.



The following interactions and strate- small car inside the box, his teacher
gies support development of phonological prompts him to give the clues. Jamal
awareness: says, car, then realizes he has said
Play language games that focus on the whole word, not its parts. Jamal
blending sounds. Select an appropri- is given another object and is asked to
ate level of sound (e.g., larger or smaller whisper the clues to the teacher before
chunks) for a focus. Model blending and saying them out loud. The teacher
then ask children to do it (e.g., If I say asks other children to do the same for
bird first and then say seed right after it, their turn.
I make the word birdseed. Or, If I say
c-ar, I make the word car). With smaller Easier forms of the game use word
chunks, provide information before pre- (e.g., paint-brush, tooth-brush, blue-berry)
senting the individual sounds (e.g., This or syllable segments (e.g., ba-na-na, nap-
word is the name of a vehicle. We have kin, sau-cer). A more difficult form of the
these in our block area: c-ar). Also use game uses phoneme segments. Pictures
objects (e.g., doll, a dish, and a fork from or small objects can be used in the box.
the dramatic play area) or pictures with Play language games that focus on
younger preschool children to provide deletion. After providing children with
support. After providing blending experi- experiences in blending and segmenting
ences with words and with onsets and each level of sound segmentationword,
rimes earlier in the year, begin to present onset and rime, and phonemebegin to
individual phoneme segments (e.g., b-u-s), play sound games that involve deletion of
making sure to have pictures or objects words and onsets. Model first and then
available to support children in forming ask the children to try. Use pictures to
the words. support the childrens thinking.
Play language games that focus on Sing songs and say poems each day.
segmenting sounds. Hide an object from All children enjoy the rhyming words and
the childrens view (e.g., in a shoebox alliteration (words used in a phrase or
with a lid). Model the game first: verse that begin with the same sound)
found in many songs and poems. Chil-
Okay, heres how we play: If I say dren also enjoy songs that manipulate
b-all, you might guess ball, and youd sounds. Apples and Bananas and
be right (takes a small ball out of the Willoughby-Wallaby-Woo are good
box to show). What clues did I give? examples. Use the framework provided
A few children say b-all. Others say, by Willoughby-Wallaby-Woo as a model
ball. This is a ball, the teacher to sing the childrens names in a funny
continues. The clues I gave were way. Singing songs and saying poems
b-all. Okay, Im going to give clues for help children to notice the sounds in spo-
something else: c-up. Yes, cup (takes ken language. Applying the sound play
a small cup out of the box). What clues patterns in songs to other words, such
did I give? Okay, now you get turns as childrens names, further heightens
to give the clues. When each child childrens sound sensitivity and is likely
comes to sit beside the teacher, the to encourage children to play with the
teacher puts a secret object in the sounds of language.
shoebox. After Jamal peeks at the



Play with sounds by adding new verses part- /unk/ and /ear/ arent the
to a familiar song. Make up new verses same. Those words dont fit the pat-
for songs, such as Down by the Bay, tern we need. Okay, lets sing the
and ask children to select the ones that song and add our new verse this
fit the pattern. time.

What about Did you ever see a cat Use phonological awareness activities
swinging a bat? Should we use this for transitions. Tell children that you
verse for our song? Children think are going to send them to go wash hands
it is a good verse. Yes, I think that by saying each of their names in parts
verse would work because /c/-/at/ (e.g., Me-lin-da; Cin-dy; Gi-o-van-na).
and /b/-/at/ both have /at/ as their Tell children to raise their hand if they
last part. What about Did you ever think you have said their name, and say
see a skunk eating a pear? Would their name the right way, not the funny
that be a good new verse for our way you have said it. Also use other
song? Some of you are shaking phonological awareness activities, such
your head no, and you are right. as the onsets and rimes of words for
/Sk/-/unk/ has /unk/ as its last children to blend (e.g., Rochelle,
part and pear has /ear/ as its last here are sounds for you to put together:

Research Highlight
Researchers working in the area of pho- when you put /b/ and /at/ together?)
nological awareness generally agree that is easier than segmenting (e.g., Say the
the process of acquiring the various levels sound you hear at the beginning of the
of phonological awareness is not rigid and word dog).53, 54
stage-like, but overlapping. This means that
Rhyme production is a higher-level instruc-
while children are becoming aware of larger
tional task because of all that it requires
chunks of speech such as words and sylla-
of children. First, children must search
bles, they are also slowly becoming aware of
their memories to find words that rhyme
the smaller units that make up words (e.g.,
with a target, while they hold the target
onset and rime, and phoneme).52
word in mind. Second, when childrens
Children are able to indicate their aware- expressive vocabularies are fairly small, they
ness of a linguistic unit (e.g., words, syllables, have few relevant words to retrieve for a
onset and rime, or phonemes) in some rhyme-production task.55 Thus, relying too
phonological awareness tasks before they heavily on rhyme-production instruction
can indicate it in others. This is because or embedding too little scaffolding and
different tasks involve different demands. explicit instruction in rhyme-detection and
Detection tasks (e.g., Do the words boat and production activities (when they are used)
bear begin with the same sound or differ- does not provide the level of support many
ent sounds?) are easier than tasks requiring children need to help them develop their
manipulation (e.g., Say boat without the onset and rime sensitivity.56, 57 Please refer to
/b/). Blending (e.g., What word do you get Appendix B for additional information.



/b/-/ig/. Rochelle says, big), or words

from which children can delete the
first sound (e.g., Rochelle, whats chin
without the /ch/ sound?). Ask children
to detect the first sounds in their names:
If your name begins with /s/, you may
go wash your hands. If Sarah does not
raise her hand, the teacher can say,
Sarah, your name begins with /s/: /S/-
arah. You may go wash your hands.
Discuss rhyming words and words that
begin with the same sound. Rhyming to tall and ball, you might say, Yes, t-all
words have identical rime units (e.g., c-at, and b-all rhyme. They both have /all/
b-at). Words that begin with the same at the end. Similarly, rather than say,
single consonant phoneme have identical Yes, you are right, to a few children who
onsets (e.g., c-at, b-at). Some traditional correctly detect that man and boy do not
games play with these two units of start with the same sound, say, Right,
sound (e.g., Im going to say two words, those words do not begin with the same
and you tell me if their last parts sound sound. Man begins with /m/, and boy
the same. Or Can you think of words begins with /b/. Accept non-English and
that rhyme with . . . ? If such games, nonsense words that rhyme or begin with
in addition to activities that involve the same sound. A childs phonological
blending, segmenting, and deleting awareness develops as well when
onsetrime units are used, make sure to activities use nonsense words and words
provide some examples and also segment from other languages. See the Research
and blend onsetrime units as part of the Highlight on page 138 and Appendix B.
game. For example, after a child responds



3.0 Alphabetics and Word/Print Recognition

A lphabetics and word/print recogni

tion involve recognizing and
naming alphabet letters and learning
Josephinesanother long name). When
children know the first letter in their
own name but have little understand-
that letters in printed words stand for ing that it, as well as every other letter,
sounds in spoken words or signs in appears in a multitude of words, they
sign language. When children have might claim any word that starts with
gained this insight about the function their letter as their name. For exam-
of letters, teachers say that children ple, Josephine thinks her name is on
understand the alphabetic principle. the helper chart when the name posted
Preschool is an exciting time for learning is Jamal.60, 61 In these instances, chil-
the names of many alphabet letters and dren are not yet using the print to actu-
for beginning to learn that letters have ally decode wordsto link letters and
sounds and that these sounds are in assigned sounds. Older preschool chil-
spoken words. In kindergarten, children dren begin to notice words they know in
will learn more about print and sound books and on signs and sometimes play
links and will consolidate this learning with reading these by touching the word
in ways necessary for learning to read. as they say it. Older preschool children
Although few clear differences have been might try to read unfamiliar words by
identified for kindergarten-age children applying letter and sound knowledgeby
compared to preschool-age children on trying to decode the words. Typically,
a range of literacy skill interventions, though, preschool children do not suc-
there is still relatively little research at ceed in reading unfamiliar words without
the preschool level about the benefit adult help. Childrens success in learning
of linking letters to sounds in spoken to read later in school depends on them
words.58 Preschool teachers must judge learning how to decode.
what is appropriate for individual chil The preschool foundations for later
dren in their classrooms. Please refer to success in word recognition are as
Appendix C, Reflections on Research: follows:
Alphabetics and Word/Print Recognition, Recognize letters in their own names.
for additional information. Recognize their own name and a few
Preschool children often recognize common words.
words based on clues provided by famil- Name many uppercase and lowercase
iar contexts, such as when they read letters.
stop on a stop sign.59 Or, children might Recognize that letters are assigned
use length clues to guess what some specific sounds.
words say (e.g., Christopher thinks his
name is on the helper chart when it is



VIGNETTE The caregiver shares an alphabet book with a few children. This
is the page for the letter B. Here is the big B and heres the little
b. She engaged the children to help identify the pictures on the
B page: Blueberries, broccoli, beets, bananas, beans. Then she
comments, B is the first letter in each of these words. This word
(pointing to the first letter in blueberry, printed above a picture of
a box of blueberries) starts with the letter B. It says, Blueberry
(underlines the rest of the word, as she reads it). Blueberry starts
with the /b/ sound. What do you think this word says? (She
points to the word above the picture of some bananas.) One child
says, banana; another says, platano. The caregiver confirms
that banana can be called by either name, one Spanish and the
other English. The words in this book are written in English/b/
is for banana (points to banana). I think we could write some of
these words in Spanish and paste them into the book. We could
write brecol to put here with broccoli. When can we do that? a
child asks. After rest time today, if youd like. Miguel and Alexan-
dria will still be sleeping. I can help you and Aaliyah spell Spanish
words that will work in this alphabet book. We can type them on
the computer and then print them out to paste in our book.

PLANNING This caregiver brought key features of alphabet books to the

LEARNING childrens attention (e.g., a letter on each page; pictures of
things whose names begin with that letter). She anticipated
that some children would offer food names in Spanish and
English, because she had helped them learn the names in
both languages during lunch and snack time conversations.
The children also sometimes drew pictures of foods and
asked for help in writing their names in both languages.
Knowing that only some of the foods pictured in the alpha-
bet book had names that begin with the same letter in both
languages, she realized that discussing Spanish words to
add would be useful in helping children understand links
between letters and sounds. (See Appendix C.)

VIGNETTE Ms. Cone had used the childrens name tags in transition activi-
ties for quite some time, at first pointing out and naming the first
letter in each name as she called children to go wash hands or to
get their jackets before going outside. Somewhat later, she held up
each of the name tags and pointed to the first letter as she asked
the child to name it. Today, she is using the first sounds in names
to send a few children at a time from the circle time area to wash
hands for lunch: If your name starts with /k/, you may go wash
your hands. Yes, C-onnie and C-arolina, you may go to the sink.
Both of your names start with the /k/ sound. Cindy sees Connie



and Carolina stand up, and she stands up too. Ms. Cone explains
that Cindy begins with the /s/, not /k/ sound, and that shell get
a turn soon. Cindy says, Im a C too! Ms. Cone says, Oh, you are
right. Your name begins with the letter c like Connie and Carolina,
but it starts with a different sound. We hear /k/ at the beginning
of Connie and Carolina/k/ Connie, /k/ Carolina. We hear /s/
at the beginning of your name/s/Cindy. Im going to say that
sound next: If your name starts with /s/, you may go wash your
hands. Sabrina stood up, joined hands with Connie, and they
walked to the sink together.

Ms. Cone knows that children become increasingly familiar
with their own and other childrens names and with their
first letters and sounds as the year progresses. She also
knows that using names frequently in transition activities
helps children to notice some interesting things about
letter and sound relationships. In English, some letters
can stand for more than one sound (e.g., c is used for both
/s/, as in Cindy, and for /k/, as in Connie and Carolina),
and some sounds are represented by different letters (e.g.,
g or j for /j/, as in Giovanna and Jessica). Ms. Cones
acknowledgment of the childs puzzlement, along with her
concrete examples, helped the children begin to understand
the situation.

The following interactions and strate- where childrens names are changed daily
gies support preschool children: and a teacher scaffolds childrens read-
ing attempts, she may use printed names
Use childrens printed names as labels
only. Using some printed labels in a few
and to support routines. Place name
contexts gives children opportunities to
cards on the tabletop for a mealtime or
move to higher levels of print skill (i.e.,
snack time to designate childrens seats
use their print and sound knowledge to
or use placemats with childrens names
try to read words). Otherwise, young chil-
on them. Post lists of names near a small
dren will pay scant attention to print and
groups meeting place. Label cubbies
will learn little about how it works.62, 63, 64
and cots with childrens names as well
Use braille or larger print, as appropri-
as helper charts and attendance charts.
ate, for the children in the classroom who
For cubbies and cots, pair a picture with
may have vision problems.
the name to help children read it using
something other than print clues. Pair- Use childrens printed names and
ing the printed names with the childs letters in transition activities. Show
picture supports children who are just childrens names, underlining each from
beginning to notice printed material. In left to right while reading it. After a name
other contexts, such as a helper chart, is read, children then move from the cur-



rent area to the next activity (e.g., wash-

ing hands for lunch or walking to their
small-group table). After children are
familiar with one anothers names, hand
out name tags, giving each child another
childs name. Ask two or three children at
a time to read the name tags they hold,
assisting them, as needed, to dismiss
children. Later they use a letter focus in
transitions. For example, dismiss chil-
dren by holding up and naming letters
that are the first in the childrens names
(e.g., If your name starts with the letter S,
you may go outside to play). Later teach-
ers hold up each name, point to its first to use as a reference, if they wish. The
letter, and ask the child whose name it is childs name is written in the home lan-
to call out the letter. guage on one side of the name tag and
in English on the other, if the alphabet
Use childrens names in teacher- system is different. Provide the name in
guided activities. Graphs (e.g., to indi- braille for a child with a visual impair-
cate childrens preferences, the number ment and a name sign (in sign lan-
of buttons on clothing) and a telephone guage) for a child who is deaf or hard of
directory for dramatic play are ways to hearing.
use names in teacher-guided activities.
To familiarize children with the tele- Provide access to alphabet letters in
phone directory concept and to engage a variety of contexts. Include alphabet
them with the names, ask children to books in the library area. Place alphabet
dictate the letters in their names for you puzzles, magnetic letters, letter tiles, and
to type at the computer. After printing childrens name cards in the manipula-
the names, assist children in figuring out tives area. Post English and Spanish
what letter their name starts with and alphabet posters at eye level as well as
help them place it where it will go in the posters in other languages represented
telephone directory (e.g., Wheres the by the children in the classroom. Post
letter E on our alphabet poster? Does it alphabet signs that are used by children
come before the B here in Belindas name who are deaf or hard of hearing. Children
or after it?). Or, children who are espe- need many opportunities to see alpha-
cially interested in making the telephone bet letters in a variety of fonts or styles.
directory can arrange all of the childrens Children read environmental print by
names, with a teachers help, and then using many clues that surround it, with
paste them into the directory. the consequence that children pay little
attention to print details, such as the
Provide childrens names as a resource specific letters used in words.65 Providing
or reference. Print childrens names and alphabet materials increases childrens
bundle these into sets of three or four opportunities to engage in alphabet
with a metal ring binder. The sets may learning.
be placed in the writing area for children



Focus on first letters and sounds in Point to each letter as its name is sung
alphabet books and posters. Experience in a song. Many songs have letters in
with alphabet books has been linked to the lyrics. One of these is the Alphabet
childrens knowledge of letter names and Song. Other favorite songs of preschool-
phonological awareness skill.66, 67 Alpha- ers also include letters (e.g., Bingo, the
bet books provide a context in which farmers dogs name, is spelled repeat-
adults reading to children might link edly in the song; Old MacDonald Had a
specific letters to specific sounds, help- Farm has the E-I-E-I-O refrain). Pointing
ing children get a beginning idea of what to letters as their names are sung in a
letters do in written wordsstand for song helps children learn letter names.
sounds in spoken words. Read a variety For both Bingo and Old MacDonald
of alphabet booksthose with connected Had a Farm, make specific letter props
text (e.g., Dr. Seusss ABC, Pignic, The for a flannel board or write the relevant
ABC Bunny) and also those with only a letters on a whiteboard. For the Alpha-
letter and several pictures on each page bet Song, a pointer can be used with a
(e.g., Eating the Alphabet and From Acorn large chart of the alphabet. The alphabet
to Zoo). For alphabet books with con- poster should be at eye level on a chart
nected text, stress the first sound in key stand or a wall as a choice for center
words while reading (e.g., Ben brought time. Children can sing the Alphabet
beans from Boston). When sharing Song and attempt to point to letters on
alphabet books with only pictures and no the chart as they sing the song.
text, stress the first sound in the names
Use activities and games to interest
of items pictured as you identify them
children in letter matching and
with the children (e.g., blueberries, broc-
naming. Make lotto-like cards printed
coli, beets, bananas, beans). Comment
with letters and matching letter tiles for
that all of these words start with the
each lotto card. Place a somewhat differ-
letter B and that all also begin with the
ent selection of letters on each card in
/b/ sound. Help children make wall
the lotto card set to expose children to
posters of items beginning with the same
the full set of 26 uppercase letters. Join
letter and sound. These are similar to the
children, as they play, to provide letter
clusters of pictures on pages of alphabet
names (e.g., Yes, thats the matching
books.68, 69
E). Otherwise, children will learn only to
match items, not to name them. Play let-
ter bingo in small groups. As childrens
knowledge of letter names increases, give
children turns to hold up letters and call
them out. Coach individual children in
this role, as necessary. The Go Fish game
can also be played using alphabet let-
ters. When the game is played in small
groups, prompt children to ask others for
a letter (e.g., Do you have an F?) and to
tell a friend to go fish, when no one is
holding a letter a child has requested.



Use everyday opportunities to model the interesting words (e.g., crunch and
attending to print details in words. munch, dart and dip) appearing amid the
Gesture specifically to the print in book illustrations in some books (e.g., In the
and poem titles (e.g., point to each word Tall, Tall Grass, by Denise Fleming; Daz-
and to the first letter in each word) to zling Diggers, by Tony Mitten and Ant
help children begin to understand how Parker). Word cards may be laminated
print relates to speech. If a child con- and secured in sets with a metal ring
fuses his name with another childs (e.g., binder. The book and word card sets may
Joshua begins to sit at the lunch table be placed in the library area or an inter-
where Jonathans name card appears), est area with other literacy materials,
help the child compare letters in the two such as alphabet tiles.
names by sounding them out).
Provide predictable textbooks in
library and listening areas. If children
have opportunities to hear predictable
textbooks numerous times, they memo-
rize the texts. As children read these
books to themselves, they sometimes
search for certain words they know are
on the pages. Though not yet reading by
decoding, preschool children can recog-
nize words by finding known words in a
familiar book. Use audiotapes or CDs at a
listening area to give children opportuni-
ties to listen to predictable textbooks as
Provide materials with environmental often as they would like. Some children
print in an interest area. Puzzles of may need additional materials to sup-
vehicles and other items with names port their engagement in a listening area
printed on their pieces (e.g., taxicab, experience. Braille can be added to a copy
, Xe ta xi; mail car- of predictable textbooks to enable a blind
rier, , Nguoi dua thu; fire- child to find known words in the book
fighter, , Linh chua lua) are while using the listening area. A sign lan-
provided in several languages. Point out guage interpreters help may be used to
the print as children use the materials. prepare videos of signed versions of pre-
Make small word cards that match some dictable textbooks for a deaf child in the
of the environmental print in picture classroom.
books (e.g., Truck, by Donald Crews) or



4.0 Comprehension and Analysis

of Age-Appropriate Text

W hen a friend calls and tells a story

about someone, people commonly
use the skills that children will need in
vehicles; explain why it thunders during
a storm; or how to make a cake. Some
important printed information is not in
order to understand stories. People want books. Examples include train tickets,
to know who the story is about (i.e., char- restaurant menus, and even grocery lists.
acters), where it took place (i.e., setting), Those types of printed information fas-
what the problem was, and how it was cinate children, because they see people
resolved. Teachers help children com- use them in their daily lives. Teachers
prehend stories by talking with them as capitalize on this fascination by making
stories are shared and by asking ques- these texts available for childrens use in
tions and responding to the childrens play.
comments and questions, such as Whyd The preschool foundations in text com-
he do that? or Whys he crying? At prehension and analysis are as follows:
first, children rely heavily on a story- Demonstrate knowledge of familiar
books illustrations and interpret these story details (e.g., characters, settings,
from their own experience, sometimes events, and event sequences).
disregarding or misinterpreting impor- Demonstrate and use knowledge
tant information in the book.70 Personal from information texts (e.g., label and
experience and knowledge are required describe an animal, take on the role of
in comprehending stories, but they must astronaut, explain what a seed needs
be integrated with the information in to grow).
the book. As teachers help children to
bridge their own world with a new one
presented in a book, children gradually
realize that other people have ways of
feeling and interpreting that differ some-
what from their own, and they begin to
take these different views into account as
they interpret a story. This broadening of
perspective develops over a long period of
time, with only a few important first steps
taken during the preschool years.
Preschool children also learn to com-
prehend information booksbooks
that tell about, for example, whales or



VIGNETTE The teacher starts to read Corduroy for the first time to a small
group of children. She rewords some sentences (e.g., He waited
a long time with all the other toy animals for someone to buy him
and take him home) and stops, after reading the second page,
to review the story so far: Oh, there are a lot of shoppers in this
storepeople there buy things (points to the people pictured in the
department store). Heres a man, right here (points to man). Hes
looking at something (points to a fire truck) that hes thinking about
buying. It looks like one of the trucks in our block area.
Fire truck, says a child.
Yes, it does look like the fire truck. It has ladders (points to lad-
ders). Are any shoppers looking at Corduroy, the little bear in green
overalls, over here on the shelf (points to Corduroy)?
No, say several children.
The teacher continues: Right. No one is looking at Corduroy
(said sadly). No one seems to want to buy him (said sadly). Hes
hoping someone will look at him and buy him. He wants to go
home with someone. Lets read some more and see what happens
to Corduroy.

PLANNING The teacher had planned ways to support the children in

understanding the reading of this story. She kept in mind
the children who were learning English and also the fact
that all preschool children have difficulty understanding
the mental states of story characters. She planned
simplifications of some of the books longer sentences and
ways to state information in some places more concretely
than the book stated it. She also planned for stops to review
the story while using the illustrations explicitly to help
children understand the meanings of words and sentences
in the book. After reading the first two pages, the teacher
focused on the storys settingthe department store with
its many shoppers, what a shopper does, the shoppers
relationship to the main character, Corduroy (e.g., not
paying attention to him), and on Corduroys desires and
feelings (e.g., he wanted someone to buy him and was sad
that no one wanted to). The teacher mostly commented,
rather than ask a lot of questions. The goal in this first
reading was to help children understand and enjoy the
story while the teacher learned to use the illustrations as



The following interactions and strate- engagement by asking some questions.

gies support preschool childrens compre- For example, during a second reading of
hension and analysis of text: Corduroy, a teacher might ask on the first
page, So, where does Corduroy live? A
Read stories daily. Children learn to
child might say in there or at a store.
comprehend and analyze stories as they
The teacher expands the childs response
listen and think about stories in the com-
(e.g., Yes, Corduroy lives in the toy
pany of adults who respond to their com-
department of a big store) and follows by
ments and questions and who ask ques-
encouraging the child to say, toy depart-
tions and share their thinking. If teachers
ment. On the page where Corduroy com-
read stories daily, children have abun-
ments about his lost button and his plans
dant opportunities to hear and talk about
to find it, the teacher might ask, What
stories. Some children need special sup-
is Corduroy thinking here? What does he
port to benefit from story reading. (See
plan to do? A child might say, The but-
the Research Highlight on page 99.) A
ton. The teacher expands what the child
teacher can consult with a special educa-
said: Yes, you are right. Corduroy says,
tion service provider for the deaf and hard
Tonight, Ill go and see if I can find it.
of hearing to learn some signs for the
Then, before turning to the next page, the
book. For example, a teacher skilled in
teacher might ask, What happens next?
using sign language would provide both
With this approach, a teacher monitors
oral language and sign language if a deaf
a childs understanding of a story, helps
child is in the classroom or would wear
a child understand more of the storys
a microphone to increase the volume of
parts, and expands the childs expressive
speech for a child who is hard of hearing.
language, all of which help a child learn
A second teacher assists in holding the
to retell a story on his or her own.71
book for children to see if a teacher must
both speak and sign its reading. help children understand the words
and sentences in a story. Childrens
Plan support for story reading. A great
comprehension of text depends on their
deal happens in a good storysettings
understanding the words, sentences, and
change, characters interact with one
illustrations in the book. While reading
another, and the story problem is
a book, teachers can explain explicitly
gradually resolved through a series of
the meanings of some new words, using
related events. Study the storybooks
friendly explanations. That is, they offer a
beforehand, thinking carefully about each
definition that uses words a young child
one and identifying parts that might be
already knows rather than a more formal
more difficult for children to understand.
definition from a dictionary that is likely
Plan comments to make, questions to
to have words not yet in a preschoolers
ask, and ways of using the illustrations
vocabulary.72 An example of a friendly
to aid childrens understanding of the
explanation would be, Oh, the little bird
story as you read it for the first time.
was exhausted. That means she was very,
Read a story several times over a few very tired. She worked hard to build her
days. Multiple readings help preschool nest and to pull up juicy worms to eat.
children understand a story better. Dur- Shes going to rest now, because shes
ing a second reading of a book with a very, very tiredcompletely exhausted.
small group of children, teachers can Support children in learning new words,
prompt childrens thinking and verbal upon encountering them in the story, by



pointing to a relevant part of an illustra- unless he found his button. Remember,

tion on the page. Use your voice to Corduroy really wanted someone to take
support the meanings of words when him home). Even though children will
this strategy makes sense (e.g., Over it not always grasp the whole line of rea-
fell with a crash!).73 See the Research soning, they will realize that thinking is
Highlight on page 99. something people do when reading books.
Starting in the earliest years, teachers
Discuss a story after reading it. A short
can let children know that active, infer-
discussion after the reading of a story
ential thinking in the story context mat-
can also increase childrens understand-
ters and can help to prevent later read-
ing. Questions that require only recall
ing-comprehension problems. Teachers
of small details (e.g., the teddy bears
can give children a feel for thinking in
name, the color of Corduroys overalls)
this context by modeling it75, 76, 77 and by
rarely lead to back-and-forth discussions
using discussion questions that focus
and do little to help children engage in
on big ideas rather than on mostly literal
the kind of inferential thinking that
stories require (i.e., piecing information
together to determine why a character Read information books. Find books
did something or what a character will that support childrens current inter-
likely do next). Instead of asking primar- ests and the development of new ones.
ily literal questions, use questions that Read them in conjunction with firsthand
prompt children to think and to use experiences (e.g., growing plants, caring
their language (e.g., Why do you think for fish or other animals, playing doc-
Corduroy wanted to find his missing but- tors office), in support of interests that
ton? How do you think Corduroy felt emerge at preschool, or in the context of
when the night watchman took him back childrens families (e.g., finding a worm
to the shelf in the toy department?). Be outside, seeing new leg braces worn by a
prepared to guide and scaffold childrens peer, birth of a new baby, a grandmoth-
language and thinking as they respond in ers visit, soccer, or some other sport they
any language.74 like).
Model deeper levels of reasoning. Include information books among the
Suppose that a child says, Corduroy materials utilized for science activities
wanted to find his button because that and other hands-on experiences. When
little girls mommy said, No, we cant planting seeds or observing the behavior
buy him. A teacher might say, Yes, you of a snail or some fish, use information
are right. The little girls mommy said books, including the diagrams. Specific
that and then go further to link this information might be found in many
event to Corduroys wishes and actions. books without reading the book as a
Thinking out loud shares the reasoning whole. The table of contents and index
and indicates how people use informa- are useful for finding specific informa-
tion from the story to reason about it tion of interest, such as what whales eat
(e.g., Im thinking that when Corduroy or how water comes out of their spouts.
heard the little girls mommy say this, he The other parts may be read later as chil-
started to worry that no one would ever drens curiosity expands.
want to buy him and take him home . . .



Model authentic uses of book and area for children to retell, perhaps to an
nonbook forms of information text. audience of peers or stuffed animals.
Just as anyone would do before tackling Children also can retell by stories using
a new task, use information texts when flannel pieces or puppets, or they can
setting up a new aquarium, making dramatize stories by using simple cos-
muffins, or drying flowers. To prepare tumes and props. Some retellings take
for a field trip, use information books, place during quiet times, such as when
brochures about the destination, and children look at books as they rest. Oth-
simple maps of the path children will ers can take place as children read to
travel. Also read to the children any notes a baby doll in the dramatic-play area,
and permission forms that are sent home if small cardboard versions of familiar
to their parents about field trips. Help books are placed there. Children also
children make information books for use represent story ideas creatively in the
in dramatic play (e.g., cookbooks, tele- art area through drawing, painting, or
phone directories, photo albums of chil- sculpting.
dren engaged in activities), and provide
Place information books in all areas.
nonbook information texts (e.g., newspa-
Information books are resources that
per food ads, restaurant takeout menus,
increase understanding of many things.
childrens magazines, food coupons),
Place books about shells near a seashell
making sure that the variety represents
collection, books about building houses
the range of restaurants and languages
in the block area, and cookbooks in the
that mirrors those used by childrens
dramatic play area. Make sure all are
easy to reach. Racks can be provided
Plan for children to use information to display some open books throughout
gained from an information book. the learning environment, both indoors
When you read an information book to and outside on the playground. This
children to inform them about a process approach exposes a part that might
for an upcoming activity (e.g., planting engage children to consult the book
seeds in small pots, making hand while playing in an interest area. Provide
shadows on the wall, making paper- information books in braille for children
plate rhythm shakers, cleaning the fish who have a visual impairment and in the
aquarium), ask the children to describe languages represented by the children
the process before starting the activity. in the class. Set out assorted types of
Support childrens recall, as needed, to printed information (e.g., newspaper food
help children provide the details of the ads, takeout menus from restaurants,
steps they will follow in the activity. childrens magazines, bus and airline
tickets, food coupons) for childrens use
Plan the environment to support
in play. Community newspapers in the
independent story retellings. After
different languages of children in the
children have heard a story read aloud
class may be used.
several times, place copies in the book



5.0 Literacy Interest and Response

L iteracy interest and response involves

motivation to engage with books
and other print-related activities. When
and delight in books and use print them-
The preschool foundations for literacy
children find themselves in a warm and interest and response are as follows:
encouraging classroom that respects Demonstrate enjoyment of literacy
their family and culture and their experi- activities (e.g., choose to spend time in
ences with books and writing are fasci- the book or writing areas, or choose a
nating and delightful, their interest and literacy-related activity with a friend).
engagement in literacy activities will take Engage in routines common in literacy
off. Childrens motivation for reading and activities (e.g., asking a question about
other print-related activities is also sup- a picture in an information book, bor-
ported when adults scaffold their learning row a book from the lending library,
in ways that encourage sustained effort putting a letter inside an envelope,
in learning new literacy-related under- and scribble an address on it before
standings and skills. Adults also sup- delivering it to a friend).
port childrens motivation to engage with
books and print when they show interest

VIGNETTE Javon usually knew exactly the book he wanted from the class-
room lending library. One day, a book he had hoped to take home
had already been checked out. Javon decided to make a list of
books and post it on the wall near the lending library to inform his
friends that they should return a book on the list as soon as pos-
sible. (The classroom rule was that children could keep a book for
a week.) Javon got a piece of paper and asked his teacher how
to write, Books to Check Out. With help, he wrote the words at
the top of the paper and then drew six or seven lines across it. He
taped the list up on the wall near the lending library shelves, to
do later. He turned his attention to searching among the remain-
ing books in the lending library. Before long, he found one he liked.
The empty list stayed on the wall for several weeks. One day,
Javon took it down and gave it to his teacher. You can have this,
he told him. You might need it sometime.

TEAChAbLE Javons teacher read stories to children daily and often

MOMENT brought in information books to support childrens
interests. His teacher also frequently suggested to children
that they make signs or lists for use in their play. The
teacher sometimes engaged children in composing notes
to thank classroom guests. His teacher also suggested
to children that they make birthday or get-well cards for



peers. Given the teachers use of books and support for

writing, it was not surprising that Javon loved books or
that his first thought of solving his problem was to write a
list of books to post on the wall. Even though Javon never
actually used the form he made, its creation demonstrated
how much he loved books and how his teachers strong
support of writing made quite an impression on him.

The following interactions and strate- a calm part of a story and one full of sus-
gies support preschool children: pense. If adults use appropriate variation
in voice and expression when reading to
Make stories come alive and encourage
children, children are likely to under-
the children to do the same. There are
stand more of the content and attend for
good reasons why seeing a play or a well-
longer periods of time.
crafted movie is enjoyable. The actors
bring a story to life, which engages the
audience in feeling the story in ways that
sometimes differ from a reading of the
same story from a book. When reading
stories to preschool children, convey the
personalities and emotions of characters
and also reveal (through voice, signs,
facial expressions, and pacing) the tone
or mood of each story event. Read and
think carefully about stories before read-
ing them to the children, asking, How
does the character feel right here? Dis-
appointed or frustrated? Excited or sur-
Make story time not too long, not too
prised? How can I capture that with my
short, but just right. Preschool children
voice and pacing? If adults know the
tire when they are asked to sit and think
stories and enjoy the characters and
too long. Although stories are generally
plots, they are better able to engage and
interesting to children, a certain book
delight the children when reading to
and the conversation that takes place
them. When children act out the stories
around it might not be of keen interest
that teachers read, they mimic the teach-
to every child in the group. Preschoolers
ers voice, signs, and pacing.
can sustain attention and engagement
Use voice for expression and with for short periods under these circum-
variation. Reading expressively does not stances, but not for a long time. Wise
mean reading at a constantly loud and teachers plan the length of story time
high pitch. When a readers voice does and other teacher-led literacy activities
not vary, children do not receive the scaf- so that children might still want more
folding they need to understand the feel- rather than when they are worn out.
ings of characters or distinguish between There is always a later time to read



another story or to do another literacy children, ask the guests to bring books
activity. Children are more likely to look used in their work. In most cases, the
forward to doing literacy-related activities books will not be appropriate for reading
if they know that teachers or caregivers to children. Guests can explain that these
engage them for a reasonable amount of are just manuals, guides, or information
time on each and every occasion. books they use in their work.
Make reading and writing meaningful Seek childrens input. Devise a plan for
and useful. Bring books that support children to request stories, songs, and
childrens interests, and model how poems for the teacher to read at circle
to use books to get information. For time or at times during the day when
classroom topics of investigation, find children choose their activities. A system
related books and let children know that can be as simple as writing Requests
you are learning new things, too. If the at the top of a piece of poster board and
class gets a new aquarium or a table or mounting it on a wall. Children can then
anything else that must be assembled, dictate requests to teachers to write on
show the directions to the children and paper that is taped to the poster board.
let them help, when appropriate. When Or, children can draw a picture to convey
classroom guests are invited to share their message, scribble a note, and tell
a hobby or their occupation with the the teacher what it says.



Bringing It All Together

A family dinner, a tradition at Chil- children, as in the book they read, but
drens Corner Preschool, is three for all of the children and their fami-
weeks away. Mrs. Nguyen reads a lies. She also explains that the food
book that features a diverse group dishes will be prepared at school,
of children and the food each brings not at home. However, the children
to a potluck. The characters names and their families will help on the
and the food each brings start with night of the dinner. Cesar says, My
the same first sound and letter. After note needs Spanish. Katerina adds,
reading the book, Mrs. Nguyen tells Lianna needs Russian. Mrs. Nguyen
the children the exciting news. Very reassures the children that she has
soon, they will have a family dinner notes in all of the languages needed
at school. by the families. Gabriel asks, What
Mrs. Nguyen also reads aloud a note we bring? Mrs. Nguyen explains that
to the children: You are invited to a each family will suggest a favorite
special family dinner at Childrens dish and that some families will bring
Corner on Thursday, May 24, at six ingredients to school before the night
oclock. Please suggest a favorite of the dinner or on that night.
food dish of your familya salad, a Before Mrs. Nguyen dismisses the
vegetable, a main dish, or a dessert. children to interest areas, she shows
Please write down the ingredients some new materialstwo sets of
needed for the food dish. Our school small pictures of foods. Mrs. Nguyen
kitchen staff will make some of the picks out twobananas and beets
dishes for our special dinner. Family and holds up one of them. I think you
members will visit our classroom to know what kind of fruit this is, she
bring the ingredients for their favorite says. The children say, bananas.
dish and tell about the dish and how Mrs. Nguyen agrees and then shows
it is made. The kitchen staff will then the second picture. I think you also
prepare the dinner. If a dish can be know what kind of vegetable this is.
made the evening of the dinner, fami- One child says, radish. Another
lies can bring the ingredients and help says, beet. Mrs. Nguyen agrees that
prepare the dish then. I will contact both vegetables have ball-shaped
each family to discuss a food dish roots. I brought some books about
and how it can be prepared at school. vegetables that we can use to figure
We will have coffee, tea, milk, and out what some of these pictures are.
water to drink, and the school will She and the children determine that
provide cups and plates and eating the vegetable on the picture card
utensils. We hope that you will come! is a beet. Then Mrs. Nguyen says,
Nicolas asks, Were doing a potluck? Theres something the same about
Mrs. Nguyen responds that they are the names, banana and beet. Did you
having a big dinner like a potluck and notice their first sounds? Banana,
explains that theirs will not be just for beet, Mrs. Nguyen says again.



Several children say, They start with provided meaningful contexts in which to
/b/! Mrs. Nguyen agrees. Yes, and use information texts as resources. The
thats why bananas and beets are on childrens literacy interests and responses
the same page in this alphabet book were supported when the teacher con-
(shows the B/b page of Eating the tinued to read more books that related to
Alphabet). If youd like to find other the preschool family dinner.
foods on the picture cards in this book,
you may use these materials today. Engaging Families
Vladimir asks, Or look at those oth-
ers? Or, look at the other books, of
course. T he following ideas may engage families
in developing childrens interest in
In the remaining days before the fam-
ily dinner, Mrs. Nguyen read several Send books and other reading-
stories about children helping their related materials home with
parents prepare foods. She talked children. Parents often welcome ideas
with children about their families to support their childrens learning
ideas for the food dish they would at home. They also appreciate getting
suggest and help to make. materials for their use from their
childs teacher. Occasional meetings
and workshops at school are helpful
The teacher supported concepts of
for parents, especially when the
print by demonstrating that print can
teacher demonstrates ways that
be read and has specific meaning. The
parents can use materials with their
teacher supported the development of
children. Arrange for interpreters, if
childrens phonological awareness
needed, to be available at meetings.
and alphabetic and word recognition
skills by reading an alphabet book and Support children and families in
discussing the food that each character sharing books at home. Provide
brought (e.g., the characters name and books in a lending library in the home
food dish for the potluck started with the languages of the children in the group.
same sound and letter). She pointed out Encourage parents to use the home
both the characters printed name and the language when sharing books with
printed name of the food. Mrs. Nguyen their children. Translators are needed
also used picture cards of foods to help to produce text for books not available
children who were ready to focus on first in a childs home language. Glue the
sounds that are similar in different food translated text into the book to create
names and to link these first sounds to a version that can be read in the home
the letters used to write the sounds. She language.
used another alphabet book in which
Share ideas with parents about
children could find pictures of the same
questions they might ask about
foods on the book pages. Reading the
books, and provide these in the
potluck book and the note to the families
home language. Provide a list of the
and discussing childrens questions about
kinds of questions that parents might
the preschool dinner helped them learn to
ask when sharing books with their
comprehend and analyze age-appropriate
child. In addition to asking children to
texts: the book and the note. Both



a few sheets of paper home with books

that children check out of a lending
library. All families need access to
such materials. The teachers action
will support family members in
following up a books reading with
an activity that prompts additional
talking and thinking.
Introduce parents to community
resources to get books for home.
It is important to help families learn
about resources where they can get
access to more books. A preschool
meeting is a good time to introduce
families to a local public library and
invite the librarian to come to meet
families. It is also important for chil-
dren to have at least a few books that
are their very own. Find resources
identify items in a books illustrations, (see the Teacher Resources section
also suggest higher-level questions, on page 170) that might make this
such as how a character is feeling or possible. Distribute books directly to
why a character behaved in a certain parents, at a meeting, or when they
way. Those more thoughtful questions come to preschool to pick up their
can be discussed only when children children. In this way, the parent can
have adequate language, which means enjoy giving the book to their child.
that supporting parents in sharing
Send simple alphabet activities
books at home is essential for English
home. Consider sending home mate-
learners, especially in the early phases
rials that a child and parent can use
of learning English. Make sure some
to create a name card for the child. A
of the stories read at circle time are
strip of poster or tagboard long enough
available in the lending library. For
to fit all of the letters of a childs
more information about strategies
name, paper letter tiles needed to
to support children who are English
write the name, and a small bottle of
learners, see Chapter 5.
glue are all that is needed. Send direc-
Suggest ways that parents can send tions in the familys home language
a response back to the classroom. about how a family member can help
The child might draw a picture about a the child assemble the letters to make
favorite part of a book that was shared the childs name and glue the letters
with a parent or other family member, onto the strip of heavy paper to make
or the family member might label the a name card. Some crayons may be
picture using the home language. included in the materials to encourage
Send simple packets of crayons and the child to decorate the sign.



Questions for Reflection

1. What opportunities have you used to integrate childrens literacy
learning with other activities throughout the day?
2. How have you used information books in your program?
3. What experiences do children have in the classroom interest areas
in which they use information books as resources and see you
model this use?
4. How does a focus on a picture card set of beginning letters and
sounds support the development of alphabetic skills?
5. What challenges might the children have in using picture cards as
an independent activity? What experiences did the teacher provide
that might decrease those difficulties? How did the information
books provide support?
6. How have you included families in classroom activities and
7. What did the childrens responses to the note to families reveal
about the teachers respect for families and the childrens home
8. How did this integrated set of reading-related experiences support
childrens vocabulary and concept development?
9. In what ways might the family dinner experience support
childrens social development?





eveloping as a writer depends on the writers understanding of how
a particular written language looks and on the writers language
and thinking skills. Conventional writing requires knowledge of
alphabet letters and an understanding that letters stand for sounds in
spoken or signed words. Deciding what to write requires oral or
sign language, knowledge, and thinking. Preschool children
engage in writing when they use scribble marks and
proudly announce their meanings (e.g., This says
____). Preschool children frequently use drawing,
rather than writing marks, to represent their
thoughts, and they often combine scribble or
other writing-like marks with their drawings
to communicate. Preschool children are
happy to serve as their own interpreters,
telling people what their early writing
and drawing is meant to say. Teachers
are careful not to criticize childrens
early scribble productions. To find out
what a childs writing means, teachers
may ask a child: Tell me about these
wavy lines down here.


1.0 Writing Strategies

Y oung preschool children use scribble

to make their first pictures and also
as their first form of writing (Exploring,
ing, DRDP). Children also begin during
the preschool years to use letters to write
their names and other familiar words
DRDP). They arrange their scribble marks (Integrating, DRDP).
differently in the two contexts, placing When young preschool children real-
scribble in lines to indicate, This is writ- ize that drawing and writing are used
ing, not a picture (Developing, DRDP). intentionally to represent thoughts, they
As children see more print and begin begin to tell what their marks mean. A
to explore individual alphabet letters bold patch of bright orange and yellow
(e.g., puzzles, magnetic letters, alpha- represents, the sun or my umbrella.
bet posters, and books), their scribble A few zigzag lines represent, my name,
marks change to letter-like shapes and or mean I like to go fishing with my
real letters (Building, DRDP). The form brother (Developing, DRDP).
of the letters children write continues to Some older preschool children can
improve throughout the preschool years write letters and letter patterns that cor-
and beyond, as fine-motor skills increase respond to the sounds that they hear
and children acquire more detailed let- in spoken language. Children have still
ter knowledge. By late in the preschool more to tell than what their drawings
years, children combine and place lines and invented spellings alone can convey
to create letters that are legible (Integrat- (e.g., I got a bike and its red. It has more

Sample Developmental Sequence


The Desired Results Developmental times focuses on making marks without any
ProfilePreschool (2010) (Measure 21, intention of using these to stand for writing.
LLD 10 of 10)a provides a basic summary Sometimes the marks prompt the child to
of writing development over the pre- think of something from the childs world
school years. The four levels described in that is familiar, and the child attributes
the developmental profile may be sum- meaning to scribbles (e.g., thats a car or
marized as follows: that says I am going to the zoo).
Exploring: The child explores with mark- Developing: As the child continues to
ing tools on a variety of writing surfaces, explore with mark making, the child
creating scribble marks. The child some- organizes scribble marks into lines when
writing, which indicates the childs obser-
The Preschool Desired Results Developmental Profile- vation that marks for writing and marks for
Revised 2 (DRDP-PS 2010) is one edition of the DRDP.
In this publication, DRDP refers, in general, to all
pictures are organized differently. Often,
editions of this assessment instrument. LLD stands for the child will point to scribble marks that
Language and Literacy domain, and 10 of 10 identifies
(continued on next page)
which measure is referenced.



wheels so I dont fall over. When I am big, Use scribbles, letters and letter-like
they come off). shapes to represent ideas or words.
Some children may need assistance Write ones own name.
in emergent writing. Assistive technology,
either low tech or high tech, may be as
simple as modifying a writing tool to
make it easier to grasp or as sophisti-
cated as using a computer with adap-
tations such as covers with individual
finger openings. Another helpful strategy
is for an adult or peer to write for the
child, who then approves or disapproves
by indicating yes or no. Preschoolers will
sometimes have much to say and will
appreciate an adults offer to take their
dictationto do the physical writing for
The preschool writing foundations are
as follows:
Experiment and adjust grasp and body
position for the use of writing and
drawing tools.

Sample Developmental Sequence of Writing (Continued)

are lined up and say, This says . . . In other words. Some of the words are ones they
words, children begin to attribute meaning see frequently, such as their names. Most
to their scribble writing. are quite legible, although not perfectly
Building: Childrens skill in using marks to formed, of course, and a letter might be
create both pictures and writing increases written with its orientation reversed. In ad-
to the point where others can recognize a dition to their names, children sometimes
childs intentions. Although the marks are write a few simple words, such as love or
still not always well formed, adults have a yes and no. They also might string letters
good idea what the child intended to por- together in sets that look like words and
tray and the letters a child intended to write. ask adults, What word is this? A few older
Children sometimes make up new designs preschoolers might have figured out that
that look remarkably like actual letters. They letters selected to make words relate to the
do not yet know that there are just 26! sounds in the spoken words, and invent
spellings, such as KK for cake or CD for
Integrating: At this phase, children know
most, if not all, of the uppercase alphabet
letters, and they combine these to make



VIGNETTE Ross enjoys the paper letter tiles organized in tackle-box trays in the
writing area. He surveys the letters, picks one, and then dabs his glue
stick on his paper. He arranges four to six letters together, in a line
He asks, What are these letters?
The teacher understands that he wants to know what words he has
made and begins to read. They laugh together when a collection of
letters is not a word. When the teacher reads SOSRS (saucers), Ross
laughs at first, but then he says, Oh, thats like one in the dramatic
play area.
Right. Saucers is a real word, the teacher confirms. Although only
one of five letter strings is a real word when the teacher reads it, Ross
announces that he is going to make more words and turns back to
the tray of letters.

TEAChAbLE The teacher is wise to read Rosss words rather than ask
MOMENT him to tell her what they say, because children attribute
meaning on their own to their pretend words if using them
with intention (e.g., This says, Look out. Theres alligators
all over here ). When they ask what their words say, they
are usually playing with making words. In sounding out the
letters in Rosss words, the teacher demonstrates how the
writing system works. With more experience of this kind,
combined with other experiences that focus on letter names
and sounds in words, Ross will learn that people select letters
to stand for sounds when they are spelling words. For now, the
teacher enjoys watching Rosss investigations and answers his

VIGNETTE Jessalyn is delighted with the birthday card picture from a peer and
wants to write a thank-you note. She draws a picture and then tells
the teacher, I want real words, too, but I cant make them.
What would you like the words to say? the teacher asks. Jessalyn
dictates: I liked the pretty picture of me. It was a pretty birthday
card. Do you want me to write that down or help you?
I can do letters, Jessalyn explains, but I cant make words. Well,
just love. The teacher helps Jessalyn spell the word pretty by seg-
menting some of its sounds and naming the letters needed to write
the sounds. After the teacher names the last letter in pretty, Jessalyn
remarks, y? Why not e? The teacher explains that e is used to write
this sound in many words, but, in others, y is used.
Then the teacher asks, What letter is at the end of your friend Jere-
mys name?



Oh, y! Jessalyn realizes. Do we have anybody with e? she asks.

Not this year. But last year, there was a girl named Kaylee, and she
used e to write the /e/ sound.

Teachable Rather than simply dictate letters or write words for Jessalyn
to copy, her teacher segments some of the sounds in the words
and discusses the letters needed to write them. Jessalyn,
who is almost five, already has the idea that letters stand
for sounds. When she writes, she sometimes uses her letter
name knowledge to match a letter to a sound in a word. She
would have used the letter E to write the last sound in pretty,
if working on her own. When the teacher advises the letter Y,
anticipating that Jessalyn would ask why, she helps Jessalyn
discover some surprises in writing English words. Some
sounds can be written with more than one letter, and some
letters can stand for more than one sound (e.g., The letter C
can stand for /s/ or /k/, as in city and candy; the letter G
can stand for /j/ or /g/, as in giraffe and gate). Jessalyn is
learning a lot about writing when her teacher engages her in
natural situations, such as when helping her write the thank-
you note. The teacher adapts her approach to each childs
interests and current levels of understanding.

The following interactions and strate- Provide writing materials in other

gies support writing and its varied uses: interest areas, inside and outside. In
Set up a well-stocked writing area (See the block area, provide materials for chil-
Environments and Materials, page 103.) dren to make signs and masking tape
for attaching them to buildings. Place
Add new materials frequently to the
small notepads in the dramatic play area
writing area. New materials can support
for children to write messages or gro-
units of study (e.g., envelopes, stationery,
cery lists. Children enjoy opportunities
card stock cut into postcard sizes, and
to write and draw in mud outside and
stickers for use as stamps when children
to mark in damp sand with their fingers
are investigating the post office) or spark
or sticks. They also enjoy creating print
childrens interest in writing. Be creative
props for their playtickets for a wheel
and provide gel pens or pens with glitter
toy toll booth or a sign for a pretend
ink, hole punchers, scissors, little blank
lemonade stand or roadside restaurant.
books, colored card stock folded like
Placing a variety of writing materials on
greeting cards, printed photographs of
a rolling cart makes it easy to take those
children engaged in classroom activities
materials outdoors. Provide access to key-
for note cards or post cards. Consider
boards and computers (e.g., with adap-
finding ways that children can write with
tations such as covers with individual
their fingers in addition to writing with
finger openings), as appropriate, for
tools. For example, children can write in
children with disabilities. There should be
trays of sand.



ample opportunities to use different writ- using popsicle sticks or wooden tools.
ing utensils for marking, scribbling, and Encourage children to sign their draw-
drawing. (See Appendix D.) ings and paintings with whatever marks
they can, helping when they ask. When
Embed writing in everyday transitions
drawings and paintings represent sto-
and routines. For some transitions, tell
ries, inviting a child to tell me about it
children they may go to the next activ-
and then writing down the dictation sup-
ity when you write on the whiteboard the
ports childrens budding narrative skill.
first letter of their name. After a while,
When a child wants to describe a process
children whose names begin with letters
(e.g., I made orange when I mixed yellow
that start with the same stroke (e.g., T,
and red together), taking dictation sup-
F, E, M, N, L, B, D, R and other letters)
ports a child in learning how to record
might begin to guess their own first letter
explorations and discoveries. Children
after you complete the long vertical line.
often enjoy the freedom afforded by large
Tell children that you are not yet finished
pieces of paper on an easel to paint indi-
and to keep watching. By attending until
vidual letters or even their whole names,
the letter is completely formed, children
which they sometimes decorate elabo-
learn that some letters are similar to but
also different from other letters. For other
transitions, write each of the childrens Respond sensitively to childrens
first names, one at a time. This activity is emergent writing. Focus on the mean-
especially informative if some childrens ing that children are trying to convey
names are similar, for example, if there (e.g., Tell me about this) rather than
is a Jamal and a Jamie or an Alessandra on the form of their writing (e.g., Whats
and an Alexis in the class. After some that letter?). In other words, when chil-
experience with this transition activity, dren first start, let them know that scrib-
children learn to watch closely until two, bles or letter-like designs are wonderful
three, or even four letters of their name attempts and that people know children
have been written, because the first two love to experiment with lines and designs.
or three letters in their name are also in Let them know that you are interested in
a classmates name. Encourage children knowing the thoughts they might have
to write for a purpose as part of a routine, tried to capture in their writing. See
for instance, by signing their artwork, Sample Developmental Sequence of
using any level of writing they can, or by Writing on page 159.
signing their name on a turns list when Respond to childrens questions and
an interest area is already filled to capac- requests for help. When children ask
ity and a child must do something else questions about how to form a letter,
while waiting for a turn. describe actions while demonstrating
Encourage children to write in the art on a separate piece of paper (e.g., First,
interest area. Preschool children love we make a long vertical line, like this;
to finger paint on a tabletop. Add a few then we add a short diagonal line from
drops of water, as needed, to keep the up here right to the middle of the verti-
paint slippery as a child explores. Pro- cal line . . .). When children approaching
vide pieces of newsprint to use in making 60 months of age request help in spelling,
prints of childrens finger-painted marks. make the sounds in the words explicit
Children can also write on slabs of clay and name letters needed to write the



sounds (e.g., Okay, I hear a /b/ sound Display childrens writing. A bulletin
first, in baby. We write that sound with board to display childrens writing and
the letter b. I hear /a/ next, in baby, and drawing is helpful. Rather than wait for
we use the letter a to write /a/. Then, I writing or drawing related to specific
hear another /b/--ba-by . . .). As children activities, such as a trip to the childrens
learn more letter names, ask children museum, display items that children cre-
what letter they think should be used to ate daily (e.g., tickets for bus play in the
write /b/ or /t/ or other sounds that are block area, a list for grocery shopping in
in a letters name (e.g., d has the /d/ the dramatic play area, a colorful paint-
sound in its name; p has the /p/ sound ing of letters, a little book or a paper on
in its name). which a child has written all of the letters
of the alphabet at the writing area, just
Model writing. If children see a teacher
because he wanted to). Post class photos
write for particular purposes (e.g., a list of
too, and write down childrens captions
items to bring to preschool for a project,
(e.g., Heres when my sand mold broke
a note to a childs parent) and if a teacher
all up. Ricardo and I made this pirate
enlists childrens help in deciding what
boat in the block area), or help children
to write for class letters, notes, or signs,
to write the captions. A display lets chil-
children will come to understand the
dren know that their writing efforts are
value of being able to express thoughts on
noticed and valued and can be shared
paper. Plan to write frequently in a whole-
with others.
group setting for a variety of purposes
(e.g., a thank-you note to a guest, a note
to the custodian about a broken towel
dispenser, a sign for a hallway display of
childrens drawings). Engage children in
helping to compose a message, and write
it on a surface that is large enough for all
of the children to see the writing (e.g., a
whiteboard or a large piece of newsprint
paper mounted on an easel). Read the
entire message when it is finished.



Bringing It All Together

Nicolas finishes drawing on one side of This teacher not only provided an inte-
a crease on a piece of card stock and grated set of reading-related experiences
then adds zigzag scribble marks and to provide background knowledge about
a few rudimentary letters on the other the preschool and family dinner event,
side of the crease. He explains that the but also thought of many meaningful
picture is a bowl of salad with some writing experiences in which to engage
carrots and tomatoes, and his writing the children. The children used a vari-
says, This is where salads are. ety of writing and drawing tools to write
Preparations for the family dinner have family members names and to make
been underway for almost three weeks. Welcome signs and signs for the food
Mrs. Nguyens preschoolers have writ- tables. Some children used scribble and
ten name tags for each member of their letter-like designs on the name tags and
family and have made a variety of Wel- signs. Other children, mostly the older
come signs for the front door of the pre- preschoolers, used very well-formed let-
school and for the hallway leading to ters to write their own names and the
their classroom. Today, after a discus- messages for signs and Welcome ban-
sion about the different kinds of food ners. The children and their parents and
that families have suggested for the teacher could not have been prouder of
dinner and will be helping to prepare all their preparations.
at school, Mrs. Nguyen explains how
foods are organized on a buffet table Engaging Families
all the salads are in one place, all the
main dishes are in another, and so on.
Nicolas and some of his peers chose to
T he following strategies can help
families develop childrens interest
in writing:
make signs for the tables (e.g., salads,
vegetables, main dishes, breads, des- Send writing materials home with
serts). They are using card stock that children. Send home a few pieces of
Mrs. Nguyen creased in the middle to paper and a few crayons at a time,
make them stand on the table when rather than larger quantities. In an
finished. accompanying note, in the familys
On the last day before the big event, at home language, indicate that the
small-group time, Mrs. Nguyen provides materials are for the child to draw
yeast dough for the children to shape on and then sign his or her name.
into rolls. When finished, they carry the Suggest ways that the family member
trays of rolls down to the preschools might help with the name (e.g., say
kitchen where staff will bake them. A the letters or characters, show the
day earlier, the children helped Mrs. child how to write the letters or
Nguyen compose a note to ask kitchen characters, write the name for the
staff members if they would be willing child while naming the letters or
to help. They wrote back, saying they characters).



Use displays to help family mem- Encourage family members to share

bers understand the developmen- writing with their child. Teachers
tal nature of writing. When family may send ideas home, in the familys
members come to pick up their child, home language, for ways that family
childrens artwork and writing should members can use the writing they do
be displayed in areas they pass by. at home to help their child learn about
A broad range of writing, drawing, or writing. For example, some family
painting efforts on a board communi- members might make shopping lists
cates to parents that preschoolers are or write letters to relatives. A teacher
still learning how to write, paint, and may suggest that family members
draw. show these to their preschool child and
explain what they are. If older siblings
Provide ideas about where family
in the family do homework, parents
members can find paper on which
can encourage the older sibling to
their preschooler can write and
show the younger sibling what she
draw. In a parent meeting, teachers
is doing (e.g., Im writing a story for
can show parents how to cut up
my class or I worked some math
cereal boxes and other light cardboard
food containers, as well as envelopes
from mail they receive. These items
are blank on the inside. Children
also enjoy looking at the flip side
(i.e., the side that originally was the
outside of the panels) and sometimes
are inspired by the writing on it.
Children also like to write and draw
on newspapers, ignoring the print as
they add their own drawing or writing
over it.



Questions for Reflection

1. How did the writing experiences engage children in the family
dinner activities in ways that the reading activities could not?
2. What do you think Mrs. Nguyen did when a child refused to write
the names of family members on name tags, saying, I cant write.
What would you do?
3. How can you help parents understand the early phases of
childrens writing?
4. Would you feel a need to write the correct and recognizable words
(e.g., salads, desserts) on the food table signs that children
prepared? Why or why not?
5. How might these meaningful experiences with writing affect
childrens motivation to write?
6. Do you think that preschool children should have only meaningful
writing experiences, such as the ones they used for the preschool
family dinner event, or should children be asked to practice writing
letters and their names just to practice? Why?
7. If you have ever seen children practice writing on their owna
teacher had not asked them towhat environmental materials,
structure, or previous experiences might have influenced and
supported their decision to practice some aspect of writing?




ecades of research have shown that playful learning,
intentional teaching, and a rich curriculum help children
learn about the world and master language and literacy.
The principles and strategies provided in this chapter are based
on this research. Teachers must be mindful of what the research
has revealed about how children acquire a vast array of knowledge
and skills. However, teachers must also assume responsibility for
weaving together a program that combines childrens play with their
own specific plans in ways that secure a bright academic future
for each child. By definition, this means that childrens interest in
and motivation to learn are maintained. The satisfaction and joy of
teaching come from knowing that the very best efforts were made and
from seeing the results of such efforts in the childrens faces every
day. The progress documented for each child over the course of a
year also brings joy and satisfaction.



Map of the Foundations

Domain Language and Literacy

Strand Listening and Speaking
58 | Listening and Speaking

Substrand 1.0 Language Use and Conventions

At around 48 months of age At around 60 months of age Age
Foundation 1.4 Use language to construct short 1.4 Use language to construct extended
narratives that are real or fictional.* narratives that are real or fictional.*

Examples Examples

The child draws attention or points to pictures on The child tells a brief story that unfolds over time:
the wall of a special class event: The mama bird I went to the park with my mommy, and we
built a nest in our toy box. The baby birds flew played in the sandbox. Then we had a picnic. After
Examples away. that, we went to the store.
The child describes an unfolding event at snack The child tells about activities of interest to him or
time: I want to put peanut butter on my bread. her that day: First we come to school and sit on
Im going to put jelly on, too. the carpet. Then we have our circle time. And then
The child relays events from the days morning: we do the centers. And then its time for lunch.
My daddys truck broke down. We walked to The child retells the major events of a favorite
school. It was a long way. story: The boy wrote to the zoo, and they kept
sending him animals. But he doesnt like them.
So, then he gets a puppy, and he keeps it. He was
happy then.

Includes notes * Producing narratives may vary at these ages for children who are communicating with sign language or alternative
for children communication systems. As is true for all children, teachers can support young childrens communication knowledge and
skills by repeating and extending what children communicate in conversations. Teachers can also provide opportunities for
with disabilities children to repeat or tell stories as a way to encourage them to produce narratives.


Teacher Resources

The Alliance for Childhood encourages early math.

playful learning and play. http://www. The National Institute for Literacy. A Child Becomes a Reader: Proven Ideas from
Association for Library Service to Children Research for Parents and Shining
Stars: Preschoolers Get Ready to Read
Great Early Elementary Reads http://
Developing Early Literacy: Report of the
The Born Learning Campaign of the United
National Early Literacy Panel
Cooperative Childrens Book Center, School
The Perpetual Preschool: Early Childhood
of Education, University of Wisconsin-
Language Development Sites http://www.
Madison: Multicultural Books http:// html
multicultural.asp The Public Broadcasting System Web site
The Encyclopedia on Early Childhood provides a wide variety of resources for
Development (of the Centre of Excellence teachers, parents, and children, including
for Early Childhood Development of children of preschool age. http://www.pbs.
Canada) http://www.child-encyclopedia. org/
com/language-development-and-literacy/ Reading Is Fundamental provides resources
according-experts for parents, teachers, and children.
The Future of Children is a Web site of
Princeton Universitys Woodrow Wilson Reading Is FundamentalFavorite Books for
School of Public and International Affairs Children Ages 3 and 4
and the Brookings Institution.
Reading Is Fundamental: 100 of the Decades
Best Multicultural Read-Alouds, Pre-
The National Association for the Education
kindergarten through Grade 8, selected
of Young Children (NAEYC), Beyond the
and annotated by J. Freeman
Journal. This online resource provides
Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers
information and resources that are not
included in Young Children articles.
U.S. Department of Education: Office of
Authors sometimes provide book lists and
Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs.
professional development suggestions
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
for inclusion in the Beyond the Journal
(available in English and Spanish). http://
The National Center for Children in Poverty Zero to Three National Center for Infants,
of the Mailman School of Public Health at Toddlers, and Families http://www.
Columbia University
The National Head Start Family Literacy
Center (NHSFLC) is funded by the
Office of Head Start, to provide training
and technical assistance to Head Start
programs to improve the quality and
positive outcomes of their family literacy
efforts. This center also has resources for



Bardige, B., and M. Segal. 2005. Building Johnston, P. 2004. Choice words: How
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ed. Newark, DE: International Reading
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and Spanish].
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Celebrate the scribble: Appreciating chil-
Working with letters, words, and beginning
drens art. Easton, PA: Crayola Beginnings
links with phonemic awareness. 2nd
ed. Newark, DE: International Reading
Hirsh-Pasek, K., and R. M. Golinkoff. 2003.
Einstein never used flashcards: How our
Wasik, B. A. 2001. Teaching the alphabet to
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play more and memorize less. Emmaus, PA:
Rodale Press [In Indonesian, Japanese, and
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1. B. Hart and T. Risley, Meaningful Dif- 10. Ibid.

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Young American Children (Baltimore, 37. S. H. Birch and G. W. Ladd, Childrens
MD: Brookes Publishing Co., 1995). Interpersonal Behaviors and the
28. J. Huttenlocher and others, Early Teacher-Child Relationship, Devel-
Vocabulary Growth: Relation to Lan- opmental Psychology 34, no. 5 (1998):
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29. J. Huttenlocher and others, Language Instructional and Emotional Support in
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hildren who are learning English as a second language form a
substantial and growing segment of the preschool population in
California served by state child development programs. Approxi
mately 42 percent of California kindergarten children were identified as
children who are English learners in the 2006-2007 school year. Recent
reports estimate that about 39 percent of all children ages three to five are
English learners; however, it is difficult to identify accurately the number
or proportion since many English learners do not attend state-supported
preschool programs where those data are collected. In some counties,
the percentage of children who are identified as English learners at
kindergarten entry is more than 50 percent (e.g., Los Angeles County).

The California Preschool Learning practices described in the other domains

Foundations, Volume 1, defines English will also benefit preschool children who
learners as those children whose first are English learners, but they may not
language is not English and encom- be enough. Current knowledge, based on
passes children learning English for the successful practices and sound research,
first time in the preschool setting as well strongly suggests that specific teaching
as children who have developed vari- strategies, individualized interaction
ous levels of English proficiency. For the approaches, and enhanced environments
majority of these children, Spanish is the are critical to the long-term success of
home language, followed by Vietnamese, young children who are not
Cantonese, Hmong, Tagalog, Korean, and native speakers of English.
other languages.1 The strategies described
Children who are in the social-emotional
English learners bring
a wealth of ability
and knowledge as
well as varied cultural
backgrounds to early
childhood settings;
English learners also
require curricular
adaptations to
make the most
of their abilities
while they
progress toward
full English
proficiency. The
early childhood


development, language and literacy, and

mathematics chapters are applicable
and essential for all preschool children,
including those who are English learners.
However, many young children who are
English learners will need the adaptations
described in this chapter as they are
developing their proficiency with the
English language.
Because first- and second-language
development of children who are English
learners varies, the English-language
development foundations and the lan-
guage and literacy foundations are each
to be used in tandem with the curricu-
lum framework. It is recommended that,
when planning curriculum for all areas of
learning, teachers begin by reading and
considering the information in the Eng-
lish-language development foundations
and the curriculum framework as they
gauge each childs current comprehension Research Highlight
and use of English. Teachers then develop
a plan for how to integrate and utilize The National Literacy Panel on Language
suggested activities or strategies to sup- Minority Children and Youth conducted a
port learning in language and literacy and meta-analysis of 15 scientific studies that
the other areas of learning that consider focused on early literacy instruction for
the variability of children who are English English learners and concluded . . . it is
learners. Intentional teaching requires an evident that we can enhance the literacy
ongoing awareness of the home-language development of English language learn-
development of each child (as described in ers with better instruction and
the English-language development foun- English language learners may learn to
dations), as well as the English learners read best if taught both in their native
ability to use English in activities sug- language and English from early in the
gested in this curriculum framework. process of formal schooling. Rather than
Early childhood educators working confusing children, as some have feared,
with preschool English learners need reading instruction in a familiar language
to be knowledgeable about the role of may serve as a bridge to success in English
home language in the process of learning because decoding, sound blending, and
English, the influence of cultural values generic comprehension strategies clearly
and norms, as well as the stages of sec- transfer between languages that use pho-
ond-language development for preschool netic orthographies, such as Spanish, French,
English learners. Specific curricular and and English.3
assessment adaptations are needed to
optimize young childrens development of
a second language.


Recognize existing language and

Guiding Principles literacy strengths in the home

T he following overarching principles Engaging in multiple literacy practices,

were developed for the preschool cur- such as reading books, singing songs,
riculum framework to assist practitioners and reciting poetry, is part of the daily
in their work with children who are Eng- life of many families. It is important to
lish learners. A complementary document recognize that English learners have a
was developed by the California Depart- variety of literacy experiences in their
ment of Education entitled Preschool Eng- home language that range from an
lish Learners: Principles and Practices to emphasis on oral language develop-
Promote Language, Literacy, and Learning ment to literacy activities involving
(PEL Resource Guide).2 It discusses core print (PEL Resource Guide, Principles
beliefs and principles that inform teach- 2 and 9).
ing approaches and strategies. As should Respect cultural values and behav-
be expected, there is overlap between iors reflected in the childs language
some of the present overarching prin- and communication
ciples and those outlined in the earlier Language and culture are highly inte-
document. Where commonalities exist, grated, so attention must be paid to
they are referenced in this chapter. cultural values and behaviors, which
are embedded in both the language
Families matter
and communication style of the home
The education of children who are
language and the new language being
English learners is enhanced when
preschool programs and families form
meaningful relationships. It is through Children benefit when their teachers
these relationships that teachers will understand cultural differences in
not only learn about home language language and communication use and
use but the hopes and aspirations that incorporate them into their daily rou-
parents have for their childrens over- tine. Teachers must be understanding
all development (PEL Resource Guide, of how the childs culture is reflected
Principle 1). in his communication styles (e.g., child
waits for the adult to initiate the con-
versation, child looks away from adult)
(PEL Resource Guide, Principle 2).
Allow the child use of the home
language to have immediate access
to the entire curriculum, concept
development, and high levels of
Continued use and development of the
childs home language will benefit the
child as she acquires English. Experi-
menting with the use, form, and pur-
pose of the first and second languages
leads to growth in acquiring a second


language. For example, when children Give preschool English learners time
are first exposed to The Napping House, As preschool children who are English
it should be in their home language. learners adjust to a preschool class-
A discussion of the key words and con- room, it is important to help them feel
cepts in the home language precedes welcome without putting too much
exposure to the story in English. In this pressure on them to respond to ques-
way, children have the basis to build tions or directives in English. In con-
their understanding of the story. The versations and group activities, teach-
similarities and differences between ers should always include preschool
the sounds of the two languages can children who are English learners
also be pointed out during these dis- by smiling at them, mentioning their
cussions (PEL Resource Guide, Prin- names, and making it clear that they
ciple 6). are part of the group. During the early
Support English-language develop- stages of English-language develop-
ment across all domains ment, much of the language used by
Language is a tool of communication preschool teachers is probably not
used in all developmental domains. understood by preschool English
Children who are English learners need learners. Initially, those children need
to be supported not only in activities a safe setting without too many
focused on language and literacy, but demands on their emerging English-
across the entire curriculum. language abilities.

Use language as a meaningful tool Allow for childrens voluntary

to communicate participation
English learners, like all young chil- While a child who is learning English is
dren, learn through interactions that in the early stages of English-language
use language as a meaningful way development, he or she may not feel
to communicate. Successful interac- confident enough to respond in this
tions promote extended conversations new language. Each child who is learn-
that include repeated turn-taking and ing English is different, and it is impor-
shared experiences to communicate tant for teachers to allow the child to
interests, ideas, and emotions (PEL decide when he is ready to go public
Resource Guide, Principle 3). with the new language.

Make childrens learning interesting

and fun for English learners
Language development and learning
Environments and
are promoted when preschool teach- Materials
ers and children creatively and inter-

actively use language (PEL Resource n the early childhood classroom, the
Guide, Principle 4). physical environment for young chil-
Accept code switching as normal dren who are English learners needs to
Code switching (i.e., combining Eng- be modified to create a learning environ-
lish words with home language words) ment that provides access to the curricu-
is a typical part of language develop- lum content through multiple avenues.
ment for many bilingual children (PEL The learning environment allows English
Resource Guide, Principle 7).


learners to feel welcome, safe, and secure Establish consistent classroom

while acquiring a new language and pro- routines and procedures.
motes enriched language interactions, Consistent and predictable routines
both verbal and nonverbal. Teachers need help foster a sense of safety and secu-
to provide a physical environment that rity for all children but are especially
is rich in visual aids such as pictures, important for children who are English
photographs, toys, and picture books learners. Young children learning Eng-
that encourage hands-on learning and lish can quickly learn the daily rou-
peer interaction. English learners must tines (if they are predictable) and will
initially rely on nonverbal information to be able to focus energy on the learning
understand communication in another goals rather than trying to figure out
language. For example, labeling a block what they are supposed to do.
area with drawings or pictures of the vari-
Provide space in the classroom
ous types of blocks will help the English
environment for children to interact
learner understand that certain types of
in small groups and one-on-one.
blocks are grouped together in a certain
Many preschool children who are
English learners are highly motivated
The physical environment of the class-
to interact with and form friendships
room needs to reflect the childs home
with other children in the classroom.
culture. This can be accomplished by
In their quest to join social groups and
incorporating cultural artifacts from the
form friendships, many English learn-
childs background into the classroom
ers will spend time in proximity to chil-
setting, including educational materials
dren who are native speakers of Eng-
in the childs home language, if available
lish, watching their actions and closely
(e.g., books on tape or CD in the listening
listening to their conversations. Small
area), and serving meals and snacks that
group and individual interactions with
reflect the cultures of the families. Feeling
peers provide preschool English learn-
accepted and valued allows diverse learn-
ers with additional time and opportu-
ers to be full participants in the activities
nities to practice their English. More
of the classroom.
experienced peers, those with more
The following adaptations are suggested
advanced mastery of the language,
for preschool children who are English
can also be effective language models
for children who are newcomers to the
Provide safe havens where the child community.4
does not have to speak to anyone.
It is important to arrange small spaces
with a choice of manipulatives such
as play dough, puzzles, or interlock-
ing blocks. In this way, children can be
physically engaged in an activity that
they intuitively understand and be near
peers who speak English without high
demands for producing a language they
have not yet mastered. It allows for a
break, deferring control to the indi-
vidual child to talk when ready.


Provide space where teachers and be readily available. The materials

other adults can interact individually should be accessible to all children in
and in small groups with children the setting, including those with physi-
who are learning English. cal or sensory disabilities.
As preschool children who are English Make clear signs and explicit picture
learners increase their comprehension cues for interest areas.
of English, they will need many oppor- As preschool English learners rely
tunities for small-group, targeted more on nonverbal cues to understand
instruction as well as individualized the classroom routines and expecta-
responsive language interactions in tions, it will be important to have inter-
both English and their home language.a est areas and materials clearly labeled.
For example, when soft seating and Materials and interest areas labeled
small tables are placed throughout with pictures and words in English and
the classroom, teachers can sit next the home languages represented in the
to English learners and model English classroom will promote associations
language dialogue informally. While between words and objects in both lan-
the young English learner is stacking guages. The daily schedule should also
blocks or manipulating puzzle pieces, be designed to include both words and
teachers can label the objects and pictures at the childs eye level.
describe the activity without expect-
ing a response in English. In addition, Make use of computers to introduce
teachers can organize a small group of and reinforce content of activities.
English learners at a small table and Teachers can use computers effectively
re-read a storybook that was previously to individualize instruction and provide
read to the whole group with special additional practice and targeted expo-
attention to key vocabulary words. sure to English for children who are
English learners.
Provide linguistically and culturally
appropriate materials.
All areas of the classroom should reflect
the family culture, customs, and lan-
Summary of the Strands
guage. Family artifacts and pictures
of special talents (e.g., musical or
artistic) should be displayed promi- T he domain of English-language
development encompasses listening,
speaking, reading, and writing.
nently throughout the classroom.
Environmental print that reflects the The Listening strand contains one
languages of the children, as well as substrand with three areas of focus. The
English, should also be incorporated first area of focus is on developing begin-
into classroom activities and routines. ning words in English. In this focus area,
High-quality books in both English and the child begins by attending to words in
the childrens home languages should English to demonstrate an understand-
ing of a larger set of words. In the second
focus area, the child begins to understand
Every effort should be made to recruit speakers
fluent in the childs home language, such as requests and directions that increase in
volunteers, parents, and community members, complexity over time and relies less on
so the child will experience language interactions contextual cues to understand words
in their home language. in English. The third focus area con-


Summary of the Strands

and Substrands

T he strands and substrands of the

domain of English-language develop-
ment are outlined below. The substrands
are numbered.
1.0 Children Listen with
centrates on understanding basic and
advanced concepts underlying particular Speaking
words in English. 1.0 Children Use Nonverbal
The Speaking strand consists of three and Verbal Strategies to
substrands with varying focus areas. Communicate with Others
The primary focus of these substrands 2.0 Children Begin to Understand
is in the oral production of language and Use Social Conventions
that employs both the home language in English
and English. With increasing exposure 3.0 Children Use Language to Create
to English, the child will produce more Oral Narratives About Their
English across all substrands. Social Personal Experiences
conventions, or the rules of a particular
language, are also part of the Speaking
1.0 Children Demonstrate Apprecia-
tion and Enjoyment of Reading
The Reading strand consists of six
and Literature
substrands that emphasize important
expectations related to reading and lit- 2.0 Children Show an Increasing
eracy development. Included in this Understanding of Book Reading
strand is appreciation of reading, an 3.0 Children Demonstrate an Under-
increasing understanding of book read- standing of Print Conventions
ing, an understanding of print conven- 4.0 Children Demonstrate Awareness
tions and print meaning, letter knowl- That Print Carries Meaning
edge and recognition, and phonological 5.0 Children Demonstrate Progress
awareness.Throughout the Reading in Their Knowledge of the
strand, children who are English learners Alphabet in English
rely on their home language as a means 6.0 Children Demonstrate
of understanding a second language. Phonological Awareness
The Writing strand contains one
substrand focused on the use of mark-
ings on paper or other mediums as forms 1.0 Children Use Writing to
of communication.Children who are Communicate Their Ideas
English learners may use their home
language in their understanding of
written language.


Please refer to the map of the English- When the home language and culture
language development foundations on are viewed as assets and resources, it
page 225 for a visual explanation of the becomes the foundation for enhanced
terminology used in the preschool learn- learning. Preschool children who are
ing foundations. English learners need targeted classroom
support, intentional focus on vocabulary
development and English language and
Cultural Context literacy development, and close collabo-
ration with families. At the same time,
of Learning the home language and culture are to
be respected, honored, and supported.

C hildren have diverse learning and

communication styles that are linked
to language background and culture. All
This chapter provides guidance on how to
design environments, structure activities,
engage in responsive interactions, and
children have cultural identities learned plan for assessment of preschool children
early in life that influence how they inter- who are learning to communicate in Eng-
act with adults, how they approach for- lish as a second language in all domains.
mal learning tasks, and how they express
their emotions. For example, a child may
demonstrate little or no eye contact while Stages of
listening, and others may look away dur-
ing a language exchange with an adult
as a sign of respect. Some children have Development
developed preferences for group learning

and are uncomfortable with individual reschool children who are learning to
attention. A related issue is that of physi- communicate in a second language
cal proximity when speaking. In some go through predictable stages of language
cultures, social interactions are charac- development.5 These stages are as follows:
terized by close physical contact, while
in others it is more acceptable to interact First stage. The child uses her home
from a distance. Acceptance of different language to try to communicate.
communication styles sends the message Second stage. The child figures out that
that cultural differences are valued. he is not successful using the home
language with English speakers, so he
passes through a period of observation
and listening.
Third stage. The child attempts to
use English in a more abbreviated
form through the use of one-word
sentences or phrases. The use of
these one- or two-word sentences or
phrases is sometimes referred to as the
telegraphic or formulaic stage.
Fourth stage. The young child begins to
use more elaborated phrases and short
sentences to communicate in English.


Learning a Second Language and the California

Preschool Learning System


(Preschool English Learners: Principles and Practices (California Preschool Learning Foundations
to Promote Language, Literacy, and Learning, 2009) [in English Language Development], 2008)

1 Use of home language in second language setting

2 Observational and listening period

3 Telegraphic and formulaic communication MIDDLE

4 Fluid/Productive language use LATER

Adapted from the California Preschool Instructional Network, Foundations in English-Language Development Module developed
by WestEd under contract with the California Department of Education, Child Development Division.

In the preschool English-language levels of development depending on their

development foundations, the first prior experiences with English and skills
and second stages of second-language with their home language. Also, because
development mentioned above are English learners vary in the amount of
combined to represent the beginning time it takes to become fully proficient in
level. The third stage is represented in English, many will need additional time
the middle level of the preschool English- beyond the preschool years to achieve full
language development foundations, and English fluency.
the fourth stage is represented by the
later level. It should be noted that young
English learners will be at different Assessment Approaches
for Preschool English
Research Highlight Learners
As children move toward fluid language
use, the types of English that they use
may be characterized as (1) social English
G iven the complexity of English
language development, reliable,
comprehensive assessment of preschool
and (2) academic English. Social English
English learners is a critical aspect of
refers to language that is informal and designing effective instruction; it is also
predominantly oral in nature. Academic a challenging endeavor for multiple
English refers to language that is more reasons. The first task is to determine
formal, requiring complex sentence struc- which children are English learners.
tures, a rich vocabulary, and the use of In California, preschool children who
English across the Listening, Speaking, are English learners are those children
Reading, and Writing strands.6 whose first language is not English and


includes both those who are learning

English for the first time in the preschool
setting and those with some English
proficiency. Asking the parents or family
members a set of simple questions about
their childs early language experiences
can help make this determination.
As recommended in the DRDP, each
childs home language abilities should
be assessed. Ongoing assessment will
include the items in the DRDP addressing
the English-language development (ELD) English should be noted and the date
of all preschool children who are English recorded. If the child knows very little
learners. The following strategies are English, it may be necessary to assess
recommended for reliable assessment his ability to follow directions in the
of preschool children who are English home language or to ask the parents
learners: simple questions about the childs lis-
Accurate assessment of preschool chil- tening skills. If the teacher knows that
dren who are English learners requires a child is able to listen with under-
observation over time and in multiple standing in her home language, then
settings (e.g., during small- and large- it is easier to design instruction that
group times, on the playground, and at builds on this skill while promoting
the beginning and end of the day). English development.
Assessment using the DRDP items for Early screening and intervention are
English-language development requires available for children who may have a
a team approach, including someone hearing loss or a language-processing
who is fluent in the childs home lan- problem. It is important to make a dis-
guage and knowledgeable about the tinction between the normal process
home culture. Family members should of learning to listen and understand
be included on the team and consulted in a new, unfamiliar language and
about the childs language experiences cognitive, or neurological, problems
and usage. that can interfere with listening in any
Focused observations should be guided language.b
by curricular goals and expectations;
for example, preschool children who
When a child who is learning English appears to
have difficulty listening, and a hearing impairment
are English learners will gradually
is suspected, procedures described in the Assessing
begin to understand and follow direc- Children with Disabilities Who Are English Learners:
tions in English as they are consis- Guidance for the DRDP Access and the PS DRDP for
tently provided with appropriate learn- Children with IEPs, should be followed.
ing opportunities. The childs initial
responses to simple instructions in



ctive listening forms the foundation of a childs language develop
ment in any language. As young children first learn language,
their receptive knowledge of the language exceeds their productive
capabilities. This is also the case for children who are English learners as
they begin learning a second language. They are often able to understand
much more than they can produce. The ability to listen to the features of
a language and process the meaning of the new sounds while applying
relevant knowledge from the first language is a critical skill for preschool
children who are English learners. Through listening, preschool English
learners actively process the features of the English language including
vocabulary, grammar, phonology, and pragmatics. Preschool English
learners become familiar with English by making hypotheses about how
the language works and testing them in conversation with others.

During the early stages of learning a utilizes clear referents (e.g., concrete
second language, children who are representations and visual aids as
English learners will utilize gestures, appropriate). It is important to make sure
behaviors, and nonverbal responses to young children who are English learners
demonstrate their listening skills and are included in a variety of activities
indicate understanding of this new that promote listening
language.7 and comprehension,
Modeling the English language requires because they may be
deliberate and intentional instructional relatively nonverbal
practices that help the young child to when entering the
hear the sounds of the second language, classroom.
such as speaking slowly, clearly, and
often. Preschool English learners need
time to adjust, feel safe, and be given
opportunities to engage with others.
When interacting with children who are
English learners, teachers should use
body language, gestures, and spoken
language that is well pronounced and


1.0 Children Listen with Understanding

L istening is an essential aspect of

oral language development, and
understanding what is heard is critical
early childhood programs. Young children
can learn good listening skills in any
language; these skills will facilitate the
to the development of reading and ability to attend to and comprehend
writing skills. The development of good spoken English.
listening skills should be a goal of all

Portrait of a Preschool English Learner

Vignette Lonia
Lonia is a three-year-old child from a family who recently
emigrated from the Republic of Sudan. She is quite thin for her
age and appears withdrawn from the other children. Lonia rarely
looks at any of the adults or responds in any way when asked
to participate. Some trauma may have been associated with the
immigration, but the family has not shared any details. Lonia
appears somewhat fearful and mostly watches other children
at first. However, she seems very interested in snack and lunch.
She smiles at the teacher when he asks if she wants crackers
and cheese. She always eagerly eats all types of food. She also
constantly rubs a plastic bracelet that she wears high on her left
arm. The teacher wonders if Lonia knows any English at all or if
she is unusually timid and slow to warm up. Lonia is indirectly
communicating many aspects of her development and learning
needs that teachers will explore in more depth through detailed
observations and careful curriculum planning.
When Lonia first entered Ms. Sarahs preschool classroom, she
quietly stood next to the door looking uncertain about what to do
after her mother kissed her and waved good-bye. Ms. Sarah knew
that Lonias family had just relocated to her community. Ms. Sarah
observed that both Lonia and her mother seemed most comfortable
speaking in a dialect of Arabic. That first day, Ms. Sarah took
Lonias hand, bent down, smiled directly at her, and said in a
soothing voice, Welcome, Lonia. We are very happy to have you in
our classroom. It is circle time now. I will show you where to sit.
Ms. Sarah then walked Lonia over to the rug and patted a small
area next to the teachers reading chair and pantomimed sitting
down while saying This is your spot. You can sit here during circle



TEACHABLE Ms. Sarah was aware of Lonias limited ability to compre-

MOMENT hend English as well as her apprehension about enter-
ing a strange setting in which the language and customs
were unfamiliar. Although Lonia may not have been able to
understand the exact words, she could perceive a friendly
tone and follow the physical cues from Ms. Sarah.

PLANNING Teachers of young English learners need to be aware of the

LEARNING stages of second-language development so they can antici-
pate the kind of individual attention preschool English
learners may need. By paying attention to the behavior of
children who are not fully proficient in English, teachers
can help ease the transition into the new learning environ-
ment. In this case, Ms. Sarah was not certain how much
English Lonia understood, so she used many gestures
and nonverbal cues to help Lonia understand what was

The following interactions and strate- Use the home language for compre-
gies support preschool children who are hension. By stating common words
English learners: and phrases in English and the home
Model good listening skills. All children language (e.g., papel, paper; bola, ball;
know when adults are really listening to adis, good-bye), teachers can help pre-
them; to promote good listening skills school children who are English learn-
among preschool children who are Eng- ers make the connections between the
lish learners, teachers must first demon- language they know and the language
strate good listening skills, especially for they are learning. When a child who is
children who may have difficulty express- learning English is in the early stage of
ing themselves. As preschool English comprehending spoken English, it may
learners acquire the vocabulary to com- be necessary for a fluent speaker of the
municate in English, they may be hesitant home language to provide interpretation.
to talk at all or they may use elements of This support will promote acceptance and
both languages. During those stages, it valuing of the childs home language, a
is important to listen patiently, make eye means for the child to participate in the
contact, be at the eye level of the child, classroom activities, and opportunities for
and respond positively, both verbally other children to learn a few words in a
and nonverbally. If teachers convey the new language.
message that they are too preoccupied Keep messages and directions short
or uninterested in what the child is say- when talking with preschool children
ing, preschool children who are English who are English learners. Directions
learners may become discouraged in their should be broken down into short,
attempts to communicate in English. sequential steps that are supported



by pictures, visual cues, and graphic to talk about what has just happened and
prompts whenever possible. By using then listen patiently while accepting their
simple, grammatically correct directions language usage, which may include code
and by modeling language, teachers switching.
increase the chances that preschool
Have a listening library in the home
English learners will understand what is
language and in English. In addition to
being asked of them and will successfully
the audiotapes, CDs, and DVDs available
adjust to the classroom. For example,
in English, have a parent or other flu-
the teacher says, It is time to come
ent speaker of the childs home language
to the rug and then walks over and
record favorite books, stories, songs,
demonstrates where to sit. Gradually
and poems. For instance, when reading
increase the use of complex vocabulary
The Very Hungry Caterpillar as part of a
and grammatical structures as the
planned book reading, make sure there
childrens comprehension of English
is a home-language version of the book
in the listening area along with key vocab-
Teach children how to listen, repeat ulary words in both languages.
messages, and ask questions. Estab-
Summarize or provide key phrases of a
lish listening cues (e.g., a signal such
story in a book, finger play, or song in
as freeze or a timid puppet who needs
the childs home language before intro-
a quiet classroom to enter) that com-
ducing it in English. This step provides
municate to children when they need
the child with the opportunity to use the
to pay attention. It is always a good
home language as a basis for transfer-
idea to check for understanding by hav-
ring concepts and understanding from the
ing preschool English learners actively
home language to English.
respond to messages (If you are going
to the block area, put your hands on Use language and literacy activities
your head) and ask clarification ques- that contain repetitive refrains so that
tions. As many researchers have pointed the English learner can hear the idea
out, all children need to learn how to or concept multiple times (e.g., Brown
restate, repeat, summarize, and reflect Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?). By
on classroom activities. Teachers can repeating a phrase and linking it to visual
help preschool children who are English cues, teachers can promote the under-
learners listen carefully by asking them standing of new English vocabulary.
Use running commentary when the
child is engaged in an activity. For
example, if the child is climbing up the
ladder to the slide, the teacher might say,
You are going up the ladder and then
you will go down the slide, touching
the object while naming it. Teachers can
also emphasize key words such as up
and down as part of the daily learning
experiences. By talking about what she
is doing while she is doing it (e.g., I am
putting your picture in your cubby), the



teacher is connecting the language with Target both the content and English-
the behavior and providing additional language development in every
scaffolds for the child who is learning activity. Design activities with a dual
English. purpose: understanding of the concept
and the English label associated with it.
Use multiple methods for scaffolding
For example, when working with a shape
communication depending on the
puzzle, demonstrate how a triangle has
stage of English-language development
three corners and fits into the puzzle and
of the child. Combine words with some
that the word triangle is the name of this
type of gesture, action, or directed gaze
particular shape.
(e.g., picture cues, physical gestures,
facial expressions, and pantomimes, Observe preschool English learners
props, and interpreters, if necessary). during group time, storybook reading,
For example, in the book The Three Bears, and in small groups. Teachers will need
it will aid in the childs comprehension to continually observe preschool children
if the teacher shows pictures from the who are English learners to determine
book, displays flannel cutouts of the their progress in English comprehen-
bears and Goldilocks, and acts out the sion and adjust expectations accord-
expressions. (See PEL Resource Guide, ingly. As teachers engage the children in
pages 5455, for more detail.) the focused listening activities described
above, they observe preschool English
learners attention to the language used
(e.g., are they looking at the speaker,
do they respond nonverbally with facial
expressions or gestures to speakers, do
they follow along with other children
when asked, do they respond appropri-
ately to peers and adults when asked to
complete a task?). The answers to these
types of questions help inform teachers
as they plan individualized activities for



Flannel Board Activity: An Example of Building Listening Skills


Day 1 Read The Very Hungry Caterpillar in the home language and in English during different
times of the day. The teacher can read it in the home language, have it taped in the
childs home language, or have a parent or family member read it in the home language
prior to reading it in English. Point out key vocabulary words in both the home
language and then in English.

Day 2 Review the book in English, emphasize key vocabulary words, and pass out flannel
board pieces with images of story narrative. Summarize key events in the story with
visual cues from the book. Then ask children to place pictures on the flannel board
when the story so indicates.

Day 3 Leave the flannel board for small groups and for free time when children choose their
own activities. Read and retell the story only to Lonia, checking for comprehension.
Ask her to place appropriate pictures of key events on the flannel board.

inDiviDual aDaptatiOns

If Lonia has three plums and looks blank when asked, Who has the plums? the teacher could hold
up a plum, look at her, and say, Do you have this? If she still does not respond, the teacher might
ask her to show what she has and nonverbally indicate that she should hold it up, This is a plum
and then ask her what she calls it. If a fluent speaker of Arabic were available, it would be useful to
have the book read in Arabic and for key vocabulary to be translated into Arabic.

ObservatiOn anD DOcumentatiOn

Observation is part of this activity to learn more about Lonias developmental level. From this inter
action, the teacher begins to gather information about Lonias ability to understand some English
vocabulary words, whether she understands simple instructions, and which concepts she under
stands. The teacher would note her responses on this date and continue to observe her language
and listening skills across other contexts, documenting her progress.



Bringing It All Together

After Lonia had been in the classroom Finally, Ms. Sarah asked Lonia if she
for several weeks, Ms. Sarah observed wanted to take the picture home, and
that Lonia was consistently following Lonia emphatically said, Yes. Be
the routines of the classroom: moving sure to put the picture in your cubby
to the rug, cleaning up, and sitting so you will remember to take it home
down, when asked. She also sat qui- today, said Ms. Sarah. Lonia sud-
etly and attended during circle time. denly ran over to her cubby and care-
However, Ms. Sarah was not sure if fully put the picture away.
Lonia was merely imitating the behav-
iors of the other children or if she truly
At this point in Lonias development,
understood the English words. It was
Ms. Sarah wanted to probe Lonias Eng-
also evident that Lonia was forming
lish comprehension in a more individual
friendships with two other girls, often
and specific interaction. Ms. Sarah care-
playing with Mariela and Sheena in
fully posed questions about Lonias pic-
the dramatic play area. Lonia mostly
ture, starting with simple questions and
interacted with the girls nonverbally;
ending with a request. Through this inter-
when she did speak, it was in single
action, Ms. Sarah was able to determine
words that were softly spoken and not
more about Lonias ability to listen, com-
clearly understood.
prehend, and follow simple directions in
One day Ms. Sarah sat down with English.
Lonia for an extended conversation.
Lonia, tell me about what you are Engaging Families
drawing. Lonia just looked at Ms.
Sarah and kept drawing her picture.
(The picture had human-like figures
that appeared to be in the forest.) Is
T he following ideas may help families
with children who are Engish learners
to develop listening abilities:
this your family? asked Ms. Sarah, When working with families who have
Lonia nodded and muttered, Um limited English-language proficiency,
hum. Do you have a big family? teachers will need to communicate
Lonia nodded enthusiastically and in the parents preferred language.
said, Lots of family. Do you have Employing a bilingual interpreter may
any brothers and sisters? asked Ms. be necessary.
Sarah. Lonia nodded and pointed to
three small figures in the drawing. Many of the recommended strategies
What are their names? asked Ms. in this chapter can be translated into
Sarah. Lonia quickly said their names a childs home language and provided
adding, Shes baby, pointing to the as a take-home activity for families.
smallest figure. For example, parents can be asked to
record a native song or story in their
Ms. Sarah then asked Lonia if she home language and make this available
would hold the picture up so the other both at home and in the classroom.
children could see it, which Lonia did.


Families with children who are Eng- understand, and respond to direc-
lish learners should be encouraged tions, stories, and complex language
to continue family traditions (such can be developed in any language and
as storytelling, family celebrations) will facilitate the development of those
and household routines in their skills in English.
native language. The ability to hear,

Questions for Reflection

1. What would you do when the preschool English learner seems
to follow directions in groups, possibly by imitating the behavior
of their peers, but has difficulty with directions given to her
2. How do you know if an English learner comprehends English
and to what degree?
Does the child attend and follow along with a story read
in English or does he tend to look away and appear
Does the child show interest in and attend to books read
in her home language?
Does the child actively engage with peers during dramatic
play and respond to the English language conversations?
Does the child spend more time on the fringes of groups,
watching and listening to others?
3. Does the child comply with the mothers directions in her home
language when she is dropped off, such as, Come here and give
me a kiss before I leave?
4. How are you providing focused listening opportunities in the
childs home language?



he Speaking strand focuses on childrens use of both nonverbal
and verbal means of communication. Most experts in the field
agree that the development of oral English proficiency for
children who are English learners is an essential first step for later
reading development.8 In early care and education settings, aspects of
a languages phonology (i.e., the sounds of a language) and syntax (i.e.,
the order in which words occur) are revealed through both formal and
informal listening and speaking activities. In addition, young children
begin to use oral language as a means of gathering more information
about their environments through the use of questions. While young
children who are English learners are hearing the sounds of English,
familiarizing themselves with words in English, and learning how words
go together in phrases and short sentences, they will begin to try out
these new sounds, words,
and phrases. For children
to practice this new
language, they need to be
in a comfortable and
welcoming environment
that allows language
experimentation and
accepts childrens efforts
to communicate. Young
childrens first attempts
to speak may be tentative
and halting.


1.0 Children Use Nonverbal and Verbal Strategies

to Communicate with Others

Y oung English learners rely heavily on

nonverbal cues when trying to under-
stand a second language. Thus, teachers
important for teachers to make an effort
to learn key words and phrases in the
childs home language as a way to com-
must be conscious of the importance of municate that they are interested in the
combining the spoken word with non- child and his background.
verbal signs to assist the child. It is also

VIGNETTE It is the first day of preschool for Lai, a young girl who speaks
Vietnamese. She is holding on tightly to the teachers hand and is
looking primarily at the floor. Ms. Linda, her teacher, holds Lais
hand as she tells all the other children to gather for circle time. As
the children gather on the rug, Ms. Linda gently walks Lai to the
rug and gestures to her to sit next to her. Ms. Linda begins to speak
to the children as a group and introduces Lai by name to the chil-
dren. Ms. Linda and Lai continue to hold hands. Ms. Linda does
not expect Lai to say anything or to even to make eye contact with
other children. After a few minutes, Lai begins to relax, and she
pulls her hand away from the teacher. Lai continues to maintain
close physical contact with Ms. Linda throughout the day while
Ms. Linda communicates with smiles and gestures.

TEACHABLE Ms. Linda understands that Lai feels nervous and possibly
MOMENT does not understand much of anything that is being said.
Ms. Linda uses this opportunity to communicate to Lai that
she will help her begin to navigate an environment that she
does not understand.

VIGNETTE Mr. Ralph gathers all the children around for a read-aloud. The
book he is going to read is A Hat for Minerva. It is about a hen
searching for warm things in the snow. Because Mr. Ralph has
three children in his group whose primary language is Hmong, he
did his research to find out how to pronounce some key words in
the book such as garden hose, pot, hen, and snow. While he is
reading the book to the group, the Hmong children are interested in
looking at the pictures, but when Mr. Ralph gets to the word hen he
says to all, You know, the way you say hen in Hmong is poj qaib.
When the Hmong children hear this, their eyes widen and they
smile at each other.



PLANNING Four different languages are spoken in Mr. Ralphs pre-

LEARNING school group. He has made it a point to locate dictionaries
OPPORTUNITIES in the childrens home languages to check for pronuncia-
tion. Mr. Ralph asks other staff members who speak the
childrens home languages for help with the pronunciation
of words. By working to pronounce key words correctly in
Hmong, Mr. Ralph demonstrates to the children that he
is interested in them by learning some key words in their
home language. In addition, the children have a better
understanding of the word in English since Mr. Ralph used
their home language to make the connection.

VIGNETTE All the children are playing outdoors, and the teachers have set
up a board with openings in different shapes (e.g., circle, square,
triangle, rectangle). Jasmine, a child who speaks Farsi, is look-
ing toward the board and appears interested. Mr. Li gestures to
Jasmine to come closer and picks up a beanbag. He models for
Jasmine how to throw the beanbag toward the board at the dif-
ferent openings. While he throws the beanbag with an underhand
motion, he simultaneously says, Look, Jasmine, I swing my arm
and throw the beanbag. Mr. Li repeats the physical action several
times while simultaneously describing his actions. He then encour-
ages Jasmine to try it. When Jasmine picks up the beanbag, Mr. Li
smiles and repeats, Swing your arm and throw. Thats the way
to do it, Jasmine!

TEACHABLE Mr. Li saw that Jasmine was interested in the activity and
MOMENT used the opportunity to teach her some key vocabulary
words in the activity. He combined both gestures and
narration to get his points across.

The following interactions and strate- on audiotape so the teacher can refer to
gies support preschool children who are the recording as a resource.
English learners: Learn some key words or phrases in
Learn how to pronounce the childs the childs home language. Teachers
name as accurately as possible. Since can ask parents, siblings, other teach-
a childs name is so closely linked to a ers or staff members who speak the
sense of self, it is important to use the childs home language to provide a few
correct pronunciation. Teachers should key words and phrases for hello, good-
ask for help from a native speaker and bye, thank you, please, and sit down.
practice saying it aloud so that a native When the teacher makes an effort to
speaker can help with the pronuncia- learn the childs language, even a few
tion. Sometimes it may be helpful for the words and phrases, it conveys the mes-
native speaker to record the childs name sage that the childs home language is



important. When reading a story in Eng- Be thoughtful about helping children

lish, the teacher may translate key words understand what words mean (e.g.,
or phrases into the childs home language explaining, defining, showing). Children
as a means of validating the importance who are learning English will need addi-
of the childs home language as well as tional assistance in understanding not
increasing the childs interest. only the word or phrase presented in
English, but also the concept to which
Repeat common phrases slowly and
it refers. It is important for adults to be
clearly to the child so he can begin to
deliberate in their teaching actions by
make the connection between the phrase
clarifying, describing, or demonstrating
and the action, (e.g., circle time or nap-
what is meant.
time). Modify the rate of speech and
pronounce each word clearly so that the Plan for vocabulary development. It
child has time to hear good examples of is important to identify key vocabulary
the words and phrases in English. Com- words and how those key vocabulary
bine gestures, pictures, and touching of words will be used in both formal and
objects. informal activities prior to use. Connect-
ing vocabulary words to a visual aid or a
Allow the child to start slowly. Children
gesture helps to make a clearer associa-
who are learning English need to have
tion for children who are English learn-
many opportunities to observe the class-
ers. The intentional use of key vocabulary
room routine to begin to make sense of
words throughout the day will assist
how things are done in the early childhood
English learners to make a connection
setting. The child needs ample time to
between the word and its meaning.
watch and become comfortable before uti-
lizing spoken English as a primary means Expand and extend the childs lan-
of communication. guage. Once a child who is learning
English begins to use words or phrases
Allow for wait time. It is important to
in English, catch them using English and
wait for children who are English learners
extend and expand upon their language.
to process information in English. Addi-
For example, if the child says car, the
tional wait time benefits children not only
teacher could say, Oh, you want the red
for the development of English comprehen-
car; or if the child says more at the
sion but also for verbalizing a response in
snack table, the teacher points to the
a language that they are learning.
milk and asks, Do you want more milk
Scaffold communication by combining or more orange juice?
English words with some type of body
Create small groups for book reading.
gesture or visual cue such as pointing to
For children who are learning English, it
an object or showing a picture. Make sure
is important to provide reading opportu-
to include body gestures and visual cues
nities in small groups. Children who are
to assist children who are English learners
learning English can have closer interac-
in understanding the concept of the word
tions with the material, and the teacher
in English. For example, in reciting Two
can slow the pace of reading and use
Little Black Birds, use pictures of black
words or phrases in the home language
birds or stuffed animals representing
to assist with understanding and scaffold
black birds to illustrate the concept. When
reciting the word flying, act out a flapping
motion to demonstrate a bird in flight.



2.0 Children Begin to Understand and Use

Social Conventions in English

S ocial conventions refer to what

children should know about the use
of English apart from the language itself
rules that govern language use such as
eye contact, degree of proximity to the
speaker, and when and who may initiate
in order to use the language in a socially conversation. These social conventions
acceptable manner. Social conventions are often learned through observation
are typically considered as the social and trial-and-error learning.

VIGNETTE Ms. Cathy has always had children call her by her first name. This
year Ms. Cathy has Spanish-speaking children in her group. She
noticed that some Spanish-speaking parents scold their child when he
refers to her by her first name. Ms. Cathy asks her Spanish-speaking
assistant, Ms. Maria, about the interaction. Ms. Maria mentions that
Spanish-speaking parents view teachers as authority figures, requir-
ing respect and deference. Children are accustomed to addressing the
teacher by her last name.

TEACHABLE Ms. Cathy learned that culture influences how children

MOMENT address adults, especially teachers. This moment is an
example of how culture and language intersect in the daily
life of children. Ms. Cathy may want to have a conversation
with Spanish-speaking parents to discuss how children could
address her respectfully in the program. Ms. Cathy needs to
acknowledge parental preferences and work with parents to
arrive at an acceptable approach.

The following interactions and strate- home setting, do children initiate conver-
gies support preschool children who are sation with adults? Is there a formal ver-
English learners: sus an informal form of address in the
home language? When the teacher and
Ask a family member or knowledgeable
family members have discussions about
community resource to share appropri-
specific social conventions, it becomes
ate social conventions for the childs
part of the ongoing dialogue that builds
language and culture. Paraprofessionals
a partnership as the teacher and family
and staff members who speak the childs
work together to support the preschool
home language can help explain to the
English learner.
teacher important social rules surround-
ing language. For example, a teacher Observe the child during drop-off
might ask questions: How are children and pick-up for cues about how the
expected to talk to the teacher? Is it okay parent or other family members interact
to use the teachers first name? In the with the child and how the child reacts



and behaves during those interactions. children and their families. Teachers may
One way of figuring out social rules used want to modify their communication and
in the home language is to observe par- language approaches to include styles
ents and their children during these that may be more familiar to children. For
interactions. How do parents respond to example, if communication usually takes
the child? What is the physical proxim- place across a distance and not in prox-
ity between the child and the parent? imity, the teacher may want to use this
How animated is the parent when she is style when speaking with the children.
speaking? What is the childs reaction? Is Or if children are expected to speak only
the child more spontaneous in her speech when spoken to, the teacher can make
or does she wait for a cue from the parent sure to ask questions of the individual
that it is time to talk? Although parental child and not pose questions to the group,
behaviors outside the home setting may expecting the individual child to respond.
be different from what may occur in the
During circle time or small-group time,
home, in many cases the behavior may
talk to children about the different
reflect social conventions in the home
ways they greet adults and other
children in their families. Ask children
Through observation, teachers can
how they say hello and good-bye to
learn about the ways that children have
adults. The explanation can be role-
experienced communication and language
played through the use of finger puppets
interactions in their culture. Using that
or figures of a family. Are there differ-
knowledge, teachers can think about how
ences in the ways children interact with
their communication and language styles
adults versus peers?
are consistent with or different from the

3.0 Children Use Language to Create Oral Narratives

About Their Personal Experiences

T his substrand relates to the develop

ment of a childs use of narrative
to describe both personal and fictional
stories about themselves and their
families is an appropriate first step for
teachers encouraging childrens narrative
stories. The oral language that children development. Talking about ones own
hear is the basis for the development personal experience is often easier than
of their discourse skills. Focusing on talking about imaginary events.

Vignette Soon-hui, a child who speaks Korean, is looking at a wordless picture

book in the library area. James, an English-speaking child, is sitting
next to her looking at another picture book. Mr. Luis observes that
Soon-hui begins to say a few words in English while pointing to the
pictures. Mr. Luis approaches and sits down on the floor next to Soon-
hui and James. Soon-hui looks up and smiles at the teacher. Mr. Luis
says, Soon-hui, you are using your English words. Soon-hui smiles
and looks at James.



TEACHABLE As Mr. Luis was scanning the room to see how children
MOMENT were working with various materials, he noticed that Soon-
hui was using some English vocabulary. Mr. Luis had
observed that Soon-hui understands much of the English
that is spoken to her but does not speak much English.
Mr. Luis remembered reading about the continuum of
development for English learners and decided to make
a note about Soon-huis language use to reflect on and
consider later when documenting her progress. When he
heard Soon-hui speaking English, he approached her to
provide some positive reinforcement. Not only did Mr. Luis
provide some encouragement to Soon-hui, but he did it in
the presence of a peer, which provided additional value.

VIGNETTE Lorena and Fermin, two children who speak Spanish, are playing
together in the dramatic play area. The children found the doctors
kit and appeared to be playing doctor. Fermin lay on the bed say-
ing, Me sick, me sick.
Lorena, with a worried look on her face, bent over Fermin and
touched his face, then shook her head, and said, Muy sick, mucho
sick. Lets go al hospital, and Al hospital.

PLANNING The dramatic play area had different types of props for
LEARNING the children to use. Lorena and Fermin played with them,
OPPORTUNITIES incorporating in conversation some of the English words
that they were learning. Providing children who are English
learners with environments in which they can experiment
with language is extremely important.

VIGNETTE Ms. Amy approaches Jose and Jaime, two children who speak
Spanish, who are using only the rectangular blocks to build a
tower together. Ms. Amy says to the boys, That is a great look-
ing tower. She points to a set of triangle-shaped blocks and says,
How can you use those blocks in your tower? Jaime looks at her
and shrugs his shoulders, suggesting that he does not know. Ms.
Amy says, Why dont you try it? She hands Jaime a block and
says, Try it.
Jaime takes the block and puts it on the top of the tower and says,
I try it. Seeing this, Jose grabs one of the triangle blocks and
places it on top of the tower, which begins to lean and falls down
in a crash.
What happened? says Ms. Amy.
Jose responds, It falled.
Oh, no, says Jaime.



TEACHABLE Ms. Amy used some open-ended questions to stimulate

MOMENT conversation using different blocks in the tower construc-
tion. Even though Jose and Jaime had limited English for
their response, Ms. Amy continued the conversation and
provided opportunities for Jose and Jaime to talk about
what they were doing.

The following interactions and strate- late because shes tied up at work need
gies support preschool children who are to be explained to young children. When
English learners: preparing book-reading presentations,
finger plays, or singing songs, make
Listen appreciatively to childrens
sure to note where idiomatic expressions
stories. When children begin to provide
occur and plan to add an explanation.
narrative in English, they may do so in a
tentative manner and possibly mix Eng- Provide materials that help stimulate
lish with their home language. When this talking (or oral narratives as used in
occurs, it is important to provide the child the California Preschool Learning
with as much undivided attention as Foundations, page 122). The dramatic
possible. During these interactions, it is play area or an area where puppets,
helpful to provide positive reinforcement dolls, and miniature figures are eas-
about their attempts to relate a story to ily available will encourage children to
the teacher. express themselves in more spontaneous
ways. In those scenarios, the child pre-
Ask open-ended questions and sustain
tends to be someone or something else,
the conversation over a number of
and the burden of language performance
turns. Provide opportunities for the child
is lessened. The use of tape recorders to
to practice English. For example, during
hear her own speech, the sight of pho-
circle time, small-group time, or snack
tographs of herself, and the presence of
time, ask the child what she did over the
other children in the setting may help
weekend or during the holiday break.
elicit oral language development.
Teachers need to provide time for daily
sharing that moves beyond one-word Provide wordless picture books. Word-
responses. less picture books give the child an
opportunity to make up his own stories.
Help children understand idioms.
Children may begin telling a story in their
English, like all languages, has specific
home language and, as time goes on,
idiomatic phrases that need to be pointed
begin incorporating words or phrases in
out to all children but particularly to
English. Wordless picture books also per -
second-language learners who may never
mit parents who do not speak English to
have heard the idiom before. Phrases
interact with their children in their home
such as it is raining cats and dogs, two
peas in a pod, or Mommy is going to be



Bringing It All Together

Enrique and Bernardo are cutting pic- Engaging Families

tures out of catalogs and newspaper
circulars. Ms. Jane has asked that
they glue the cutout pictures grouped T he following ideas may help families
with children who are English
by color, that is the reds with the reds,
the yellows with the yellows, and so Invite parents and other family mem-
forth. Ms. Jane tries to pronounce each bers of preschool English learners to
childs name correctly as she asks, share some of their cultural practices.
Enrique, how many colors do you Sharing may include a cooking activity
have? Enrique responds by pointing in which a dish characteristic of their
at the three colors he has been con- nationality can be made, a music or
centrating on: red, blue, and orange, dance activity highlighting particular
slowly saying the color names in sounds or movements that are used
Spanish. Thats right, in Spanish it in their homelands, or a craft activ-
is rojo, azul, and naranjo. In English ity characteristic of the culture. Take
it is red, blue, and orange, responds photographs of the presentations,
Ms. Jane. Which color do you like the and place them in a photo album.
best? Enrique points to red. Ms. Jane Later, the teacher can ask the child to
says, Why do you like that color? describe or recount the activity to her
Enrique says, I dunno. I like. or the childs peers.
Encourage parents and other family
In this vignette, Ms. Jane recognizes members to continue to use the home
the importance of correctly pronounc- language during family activities while
ing the childrens names as a means of also encouraging early literacy skill
validating their cultural identity. She also development in the primary language.
demonstrates that the colors have dif- Communicate with parents on an indi-
ferent labels in Spanish and in English. vidual basis, during parent meetings,
She also tries to move from closed-ended through bulletin boards, or newslet-
questions to more open-ended questions ters in their home language regarding
even in the face of no verbal responses. the importance of speaking to their
Ms. Jane understands that it is impor- children in their home language. Par-
tant to move conversation from one-word ents may welcome suggestions about
answers to more extended and elaborated how to engage their young children in
speech. conversation during everyday activi-
ties such as walking in the neighbor-
hood or shopping at the supermarket.
Stress the importance of concept
formation (e.g., colors, numbers, and
shapes) in verbal interactions with
their children. After a parent meeting


focused on how to read a book with If books are not available in the home
a young child, provide the parents language, send wordless picture books
with books written in their home lan- home that can be discussed in the
guage and suggest that the parent or familys language.
a family member read to their child.

Questions for Reflection

1. What activities best encourage open-ended conversations with
young children who are learning English?
2. How could Ms. Jane have structured the conversation differently
to elicit more verbal responses from the children?
3. Why did Ms. Jane use both Spanish and English in her
communication with the children?
4. How can teachers help parents encourage oral language
development in their children?



arly literacy in the preschool classroom is based on strong oral
language abilities, knowledge of how print works, phonological
awareness, and a personal desire to become a skilled
reader. The Reading strand comprises six substrands that
have been identified as critical for preschool English learners:
Appreciation and enjoyment of reading and literature
An increasing understanding of book reading
An understanding of print conventions
An awareness that print carries meaning
Progress in knowledge of the English alphabet
Phonological awareness

It is important to remember that on research in transfer of Spanish to

children who are English learners may English and speakers of other European
have already learned some of these early languages. There is little current research
literacy skills in their home language. on how readily certain literacy skills
For example, Lonia, the young girl from in Asian languages are transferred
Sudan described in the Listening sec- to English. Nevertheless, each childs
tion (page 189), may have a keen interest existing knowledge about language, the
in books that were read to her in Arabic structure of language, vocabulary levels,
by her mother and have age-appropriate and literacy skills should be understood
phonological awareness in her home lan- as important prior knowledge that chil
guage. To fully understand Lonias abili- dren who are English learners can build
ties and needs, program staff will need to upon. Once a teacher knows that a child
determine which language and literacy has already learned age-appropriate skills
skills Lonia has mastered in her home in a home language, the teacher can
language by using skilled interpreters expect that this English learner will be
who can interview the family and observe able to use these existing skills to develop
Lonia across different contexts, as well as proficiency in English.
her level of English proficiency. Attention to the bridging of the home
Phonological awareness, letter know language and English, strategic use of the
ledge, and discourse skills in the home home language, and connecting content
language appear to provide the necessary to preschool English learners cultural
background for learning these skills in knowledge will help to foster their moti-
English. However, the claims for transfer vation to learn the specific literacy skills
of skills from the home language to a addressed in the English-language devel-
second language are primarily based opment foundations.


1.0 Children Demonstrate Appreciation

and Enjoyment of Reading and Literature

T o stay motivated to learn the com

plex skills required of fluent readers,
young children need repeated opportuni-
learning. Learning to read is promoted
by close and nurturing relationships
with adults who foster interactions with
ties to associate reading with pleasure, interesting and engaging print.
positive feelings, and interesting

VIGNETTE During a conference with Mrs. Kim, Yeons mother, Ms. Maria
described Yeons preferred activities in the preschool classroom.
Yeon almost always played in the block area and rarely partici-
pated in group literacy activities. He seemed to enjoy pushing
trucks up and down the block roads, but Ms. Maria could not
remember a single time that he picked up a book or joined her
when she read to a small group. Maria asked Mrs. Kim if they read
books together at home. At this point, Mrs. Kim looked uncomfort-
able and said, Not much. She explained that they did not have
any books in Korean, and she could not read English books. Ms.
Maria then suggested that Mrs. Kim borrow a classroom picture
book on transportation and sit with Yeon and make up stories in
Korean about the pictures. Ms. Maria encouraged Mrs. Kim to use
Korean to tell Yeon stories, sing songs with him, look at magazines
together, and point out signs. Mrs. Kim asked, Wont this confuse
Yeon? Maria reassured Mrs. Kim that the important thing was for
her to expose Yeon to lots of experiences with print and books in
a playful and engaging way and that speaking to Yeon in Korean
would not confuse him.

TEACHABLE Ms. Maria was uncertain how much exposure to print Yeon
MOMENT received at home. She was able to encourage Yeons mother
to engage in appropriate literacy activities while also
promoting continued use of the home language.

The following interactions and strate- dren respond by increased motivation to

gies support preschool children who are learn to read. As adults show enthusiasm
English learners: for the content of the story in a nurtur-
Expose children enthusiastically to all ing setting, preschool English learners
types of print (e.g., magazines, billboard learn to value these activities and associ-
signs, books, posters). When teach- ate the act of reading with positive feel-
ers and other adults create a warm and ings. This creates an interest in books
positive climate for individual and small- and print and the desire to know how the
group book reading and storytelling, chil- squiggles on a page are connected to the



words of the story. For preschool English the home language can be sent home
learners, it is important for them to hear periodically. This practice promotes fam-
stories repeatedly in their home language, ily literacy time when parents engage in
which will help them understand the story reading, storytelling, and sharing a love of
narrative once it is read in English. Read- print in their home language.
ing to children in their primary language Build on existing strengths. All children
also provides opportunities to build back- have areas of development where they
ground knowledge, promote concept devel- show strength and perhaps an unusual
opment, and expand vocabulary compre- amount of background knowledge. For
hension in the home language. Skilled sto- example, a young girl from Korea might
rybook reading and storytelling in English display well-developed physical agility
will help build English skills in language and interest in the performing arts. For
and literacy that are critical to young this child who is learning English, oppor-
English learners future school success. tunities to move like the wind, run like
Connect literacy to the home culture a river, or be silent as a cat may help
and community. Knowing as much as her learn new English vocabulary while
possible about the childrens home life, demonstrating her own unique talents.
family activities, personal interests, and Many children of recent immigrant fami-
familiar settings will help teachers identify lies have been shown to have exceptional
books, stories, and strategies that natu- skills in social relations. If a child who
rally build on the childrens background. is an English learner shows strengths in
By inviting storytellers from the commu- forming peer relationships, teachers can
nity into the classroom and by reading or systematically arrange small groups so
telling stories in the home language, the that English learners have opportunities
program is helping preschool children who to both learn English and learn through
are English learners connect literacy activ- their home language with peers.
ities to family customs and history. Use read-alouds. For preschool children
Story packs with quality books translated who are English learners, read-alouds,
into the childs home language, CD play- or book-reading activities, are best con-
ers, and audio recordings in English and ducted in small groups. Choosing books
that are of high interest to preschool
English learners and authentically reflect
their home culture will help engage
their attention. Teachers introduce key
concepts and vocabulary words in the
childrens home language and English
before reading the book. Skillful interac-
tive reading of the text will enhance the
childs development of new vocabulary.
By pointing out key vocabulary words,
providing expanded definitions with
visual aids, and using the new vocabu-
lary in multiple contexts, teachers will
facilitate understanding of the text and
English-language development. See the
Research Highlight on page 186.



2.0 Children Show an Increasing Understanding

of Book Reading

A s children have many experiences

with print of all types, they gradu-
ally come to understand that all books
important for childrens development of
reading skills. Adults promote this skill
development by pointing out the features
share common elements. The knowl- of books, engaging in skillful storybook
edge that print in books is organized in reading, and helping children to create
specific ways for specific purposes is books of their own.

VIGNETTE During morning circle time, Alonzo was quite excited and wanted
to share an outing he had taken with his family over the weekend.
Alonzos home language was Spanish, and he kept repeating certain
phrases in Spanish at such a rapid pace that Ms. Sheila could not
understand him. Ms. Sheila asked her assistant, who was fluent
in Spanish and English, to help interpret. Alonzo then described the
wedding of his Aunt Lucinda. He went into great detail about who
was there, what they had to eat, and the special clothes everyone
had to wear. Ms. Sheila then asked the assistant to help Alonzo
make a book with pictures of the wedding. During small-group time,
she wrote the words in Spanish as Alonzo dictated the events of the
wedding. They made a cover page identifying Alonzo as the author,
made up a title (Aunt Lucindas Wedding), then numbered the pages,
and bound them together. The next day Alonzo proudly read the book
to the class, very carefully turning each page after showing everyone
the pictures and narrating the sequence of events.

TEACHABLE Ms. Sheila was able to capitalize on Alonzos strong feelings

MOMENT about an important family event and direct them to a rich
book-making activity. All children get excited about sharing
family news and, with some skilled help, can be energized
to create narratives in book format. See the Research
Highlight on page 179.

The following interactions and strate- ests can be brought into the classroom to
gies support preschool children who are help connect what the child knows and is
English learners: motivated to learn more about to curric-
ular content and skill building. Because
Connect print material to childrens
the routines and language of the class-
interests. All young children have per-
room may be unfamiliar to a child who
sonal interests, cherished family mem-
is learning English, the teacher needs to
bers, and familiar activities. These inter-


find out the interests of preschool English the childs understanding of story nar-
learners in the classroom, and use this rative and ability to make personal con-
information to build a comfortable and nections to events in the story. After this
motivating context for learning. has happened in the home language, the
teacher can then read the same book in
Invite children to discuss and react to
English to a mixed group of children who
story narratives. After reading a book to
are native speakers of English and chil-
an English learner in the home language,
dren who are English learners.
the teacher can check for comprehension
of meaning by asking the child simple Encourage children to dictate, retell,
questions about the story (e.g., Who was and create their own books. One of the
your favorite character? Has anything like best ways to help children comprehend
this ever happened to you? What do you story structure is to have them tell per-
think will happen next? Which pig was the sonally meaningful stories that are writ-
smartest? Why would you want Goldilocks ten down by adults. Simple story narra-
to be your friend?). During the beginning tion and recording, having children retell
stages of English-language development, stories that have been read to them, or
it will be important to read and discuss asking children to write or dictate stories
the books in the childs home language. from their personal lives can accomplish
By using the childs home language ini- this.
tially, the teacher will be able to assess

3.0 Children Demonstrate an Understanding

of Print Conventions

D uring the preschool years, children

begin to understand that print may
be organized in different ways depending
right, starts at the top of the page, book
pages turn from right to left). These
understandings support their ability
on the purpose of the writing. They also to track print and learn the English
learn that English print follows certain alphabet.
predictable rules (e.g., read from left to

Vignette Right after sharing and posting the morning message, Ms. Sarah
noticed two young girls, Ping Shu and I-Chun, staring at the daily
schedule and having an animated conversation in Chinese. She
deduced that they were talking about the field trip to the local farm-
ers market planned for later in the day. It also seemed that they
were confused about what they were supposed to be doing before
going on the field trip. Ms. Sarah moved to the girls and pointed to
the morning schedule of times and events, illustrated both in writing
and with pictures. Ms. Sarah bent down, carefully pronounced each
girls name, and said, This message tells us what we will be doing
today. Later we will be going to the farmers market. She pointed to



the picture of the market. Then she read the message slowly while
pointing to each word, linking it to the picture. By pointing to each
picture and orally linking it to its corresponding word in the order
they were written, left to right, and top to bottom, Ms. Sarah was
helping the girls understand print conventions and the meaning of
the morning message.

TEACHABLE Ms. Sarah could see the girls were puzzled over the timing of
MOMENT the days field trip and used this as an opportunity to rein-
force the days schedule. She carefully used the pictures that
accompanied the print to enhance the girls understanding of
the message.

The following interactions and strate- practice and share their knowledge in
gies support preschool children who are low-demand settings. Books and other
English learners: forms of print, along with colored chalk
and other writing tools, can also be
Point out print features during shared
placed in outside areas. Provide adapta-
reading (shared reading can include all
tions as appropriate, if the child has a
types of print, not just storybooks). While
disability. (See Appendix D.)
reading a morning message, big books,
daily schedules, and other shared read- Help children create their own books.
ing activities, teachers indicate each Have preschool children who are English
wordemphasizing the direction (i.e., learners dictate and illustrate their own
from left to right), the way print is orga- All About Me and My Family books.
nized on pages (i.e., from top to bottom), The children can collaborate with family
and how the author is identified. members, friends, caregivers, and teach-
ers to create these small books in which
Point out print features during shared
the children themselves are the main
writing. While recording dictated mes-
characters. By talking about, writing
sages, teachers can say things such as,
about, reading about, and publicly shar-
We start at the top of the page when
ing their personal life histories, preschool
we write and go across the page, left to
English learners will develop pride in
right. Teachers can also point out the
their cultural identity, create a positive
way a piece of writing begins and ends
orientation to literacy, and create mean-
(e.g., Once upon a time, The End).
ingful and engaging text. Teachers can
Equip all learning areas with books then have these All About Me and My
and writing materials. When preschool Family books printed, laminated, and
English learners have the opportunity to shared in the classroom. Children even-
explore the properties of books individu- tually take the books home to share with
ally and with small groups, they get to their families.



4.0 Children Demonstrate Awareness That Print

Carries Meaning

A n important precursor to fluent read-

ing is the understanding that certain
symbols (e.g., signs and print) have delib-
their name always spell their name even
if it is next to a picture of a different child
is developed during the preschool years.
erate and consistent meanings attached This knowledge is critical to the develop-
to them. The knowledge that the letters of ment of early literacy skills.

VIGNETTE Marcela was looking intently at Tings family pictures on the bulletin
board. The Chinese characters in the captions seemed to fascinate
Marcela. When Ms. Lucinda came over, Marcela asked her in Span-
ish, What are those marks? Ms. Lucinda replied in Spanish, These
are the names of Tings family written in Chinese. Chinese is the
language Tings family speaks at home. Ms. Lucinda then pointed
to the names written in English and said in English, as she pointed
to each name, This says, Ning Liu, Tings mother, and this one says,
Jun Chan, Tings father. Ms. Lucinda continued, This writing tells
us the names of the people in the picture. On the first line the names
are written in Chinese characters, and on the second line the names
are written in the English alphabet.

TEACHABLE When young children show an interest in print or another

MOMENT childs family or language, this is a good time to point out
that different forms of print can carry the same meaning.
A childs name can be represented in multiple ways and still
mean the same thing.

The following interactions and strate- ing the names of words used in labeling
gies support preschool children who are (e.g., art area, block area, and book area)
English learners: will also help preschool children who
are English learners associate specific
Point out the meaning of print around
printed forms with meaningful words. On
the classroom and in the community.
neighborhood walks, teachers can point
Young children often start the process of
out signs and repeat their meaning; it is
linking printed letters to sounds of words
especially helpful if the teacher can find
by learning the printed versions of their
signs in multiple languages so the chil-
own names. An English learner should
dren start to see that different print can
have a personal storage space (e.g.,
represent the same meaning.
cubby) labeled with his name in both
English and his home language if the Have lots of clear print in multiple
alphabet is different. Consistently repeat- languages in the environment. The



sight of posters, pictures, and signs with Engage children in purposeful writing.
print will allow preschool children to Young preschool children who are English
begin learning individual letter names learners can write notes and letters to
and connecting print with specific mean- important people in their lives for authen-
ing. Teachers should ensure that the tic purposes (e.g., a thank-you note to
environmental print displayed in the Grandma for a birthday present or a let-
classroom represents both English and ter to an aunt about a trip to the pump-
childrens home languages; many have kin patch). Often they will write letters
found it useful to color-code each lan- and words using both the home language
guage so children and teachers have and English, which is a normal part of
a way of distinguishing the languages. early literacy for preschool English learn-
Teachers will need to find out about the ers. Teachers can point out the sounds
writing systems of their preschool English and meanings of each word and watch
learners so they can use it in the class- for the childs ability to understand print
room. Then English learners can under- in the classroom in both English and the
stand that print can look and sound a lot home language.
of different ways but carry similar mean-
ings about the world.

5.0 Children Demonstrate Progress in Their

Knowledge of the Alphabet in English

K nowledge of the English alphabet

is especially important for young
children as they are learning to decode
alphabet and their later reading success.
This skill is important to the decoding
and recognition of words and seems to be
English print. Much research has found connected to the ability to remember the
a strong relationship between childrens sounds associated with letters.
ability to recognize letters of the English

Vignette Yeon Ha rapidly used the alphabet stamp to print letters onto a big
piece of construction paper. She seemed to be printing them at ran-
dom: S, P, B, D, A. Because Yeon Ha had not been in the classroom
very long, Ms. Laura was not sure how much English she under-
stood. Ms. Laura gently asked Yeon Ha if she was writing her name.
Yeon Ha looked at Ms. Laura but did not respond. Ms. Laura then
picked out a piece of paper and started printing out the letters of her
own name while saying to Yeon Ha, I am going to make my own
name with these letters. She stamped an L and said, My name
starts with the letter L and made the /l/ sound. Ms. Laura named
each letter of her name and then held up the paper and said to Yeon
Ha, These are the letters in my name: Laura.



Yeon Ha smiled broadly at Ms. Laura and said, My name is Yeon

Ha. Ms. Laura then repeated the name and helped Yeon Ha identify,
call out, and stamp the letters of her name.

TEACHABLE Ms. Laura was able to take Yeon Has interest in letters and
MOMENT focus it deliberately toward an activity to identify the letters
in her name. Ms. Laura approached the activity indirectly,
engaging Yeon Ha first in the letters of her own name (Laura),
then helping Yeon Ha stamp the letters of her own name.

The following interactions and strate- preschool English learners are playing
gies support preschool children who are with and manipulating alphabet puzzles,
English learners: stamps, or magnets, teachers can point
out and reinforce the names of the letters
Have children identify the letters of
in an engaging manner.
their own names in any language.
During morning circle time, teachers can Read alphabet books in multiple
hold up name cards for each child and languages. There are many colorful and
point out the first letter of each name. culturally appropriate alphabet books
Teachers should also make sure the available in multiple languages that can
name is represented in both English and be used to emphasize letters in both Eng-
the home language when the languages lish and the home language (e.g., Gather-
have different writing systems. ing the Sun, by Alma Flor Ada). The non-
English version can be read one day, and
Provide English alphabet letters in
the English version can be read another
multiple forms (e.g., magnetic letters,
day. (Additional suggestions are listed in
wooden letters, paper tracing letters,
the PEL Resource Guide, pages 7779.)
letter stamps, and alphabet charts)
throughout the classroom. While

6.0 Children Demonstrate Phonological Awareness

C hildrens ability to hear and under-

stand how the specific sounds in
their language are organized is criti-
do not begin to learn some components
of phonological awareness, such as syl-
lable segmentation (e.g., What word
cal to the process of learning to read. do you get when you take the tur away
Complex interrelated skills include the from turkey?), until late in the preschool
childs ability to hear and manipulate the years or in kindergarten. Phonological
individual sound units in the home lan- awareness can be promoted in preschool
guage. Although phonological awareness English learners through singing, chant-
can and should be taught through age- ing, sound and word play, and storybook
appropriate activities, preschool children reading in both their home language and



English. During those activities, teach- ness may look different for children who
ers should help children who are English are English learners because of the fol-
learners attend to, discriminate among, lowing factors: the similarity of their
and identify the sounds of language. The home language to English, the amount of
skills and strategies described in Chap- exposure they have to English, the extent
ter 4, Language and Literacy, are also of early language and literacy learning in
important to the literacy development of their home language, and the intensity of
preschool English learners. However, the their English preschool experiences.
progress of English phonological aware-

VIGNETTE Mr. Aaron had noticed that the children who spoke Spanish were
singing songs and rhymes in Spanish on the playground. Because
he did not know these songs, Mr. Aaron asked Lucinda, who was
fluent in Spanish, to translate them for him. One of the songs, Arroz
con Leche (Rice Pudding), was included in the book Po Peep. Mr.
Aaron ordered a copy of the book, which contains traditional nurs-
ery rhymes in Spanish and English, and the CD with accompanying
songs in both languages. He then read one song or rhyme each day
and played the corresponding music, alternating between Spanish
and English.

TEACHABLE Many books, tapes, and CDs are available in multiple

MOMENT languages. Mr. Aaron recognized preschool English learners
knowledge and interest in rhymes and songs in their home
language and was able to use the childrens language abili-
ties in their home language to build English-language skills.

The following interactions and strate- Sing songs, recite poems, clap
gies support preschool children who are rhythms, and do finger plays that
English learners: emphasize rhymes daily. Many pre-
school songs and poems emphasize the
Sing silly English songs that can be
sounds of language, which is an impor-
phonetically manipulated. Songs such
tant aspect of phonological awareness.
as Apples and Bananas that allow pre
By hearing these sounds and partici-
school children who are English learners
pating in the activity, preschool Eng-
to hear, repeat, and make up their own
lish learners will start to learn the way
sounds help them to learn and manipu-
sounds go together to make up words in
late the sounds of English. Since these
this new language. Even though the chil-
skills transfer across languages, rhym-
dren may not understand the meaning
ing songs can also be sung in home lan-
of the words and may be imitating their
guages whenever possible.
English-speaking peers, those activities



will help preschool English learners to Rhymes.10 For preschool English learners,
perceive and eventually produce the it is appropriate to expect rhyme detection
unique sounds of English. and repetition; however, rhyme produc-
Rhyming does appear to be a skill that tion is a complex skill that often requires
transfers across languages (e.g., Spanish, advanced vocabulary (see pages 133135
French, and other alphabetic languages in Chapter 4, Language and Literacy).
as well as Chinese), so these activities can See the Research Highlight on page 138.
be conducted in the home language as Identify and practice English sounds
well. Some books contain songs, rhymes, that do not exist in the home language.
and poems in more than one language Use common English words with sounds
and can be used to strengthen these that are not found in the childs home
skills in both languages. A good example language throughout the day (e.g., empha-
of such a book in Spanish and English size the sh sound in shoes when helping
is Po Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery a child who is Spanish-speaking tie his
shoelaces, or point out the little ladybug
in the insect book to children who speak
Research Highlight Japanese).
Use real objects and emphasize
Building on a childs language abilities
syllables and phonemes. As preschool
in his or her L1 [home language] will
English learners learn the English vocab-
not only help the child fully master that ulary words for common objects and
language, but provide him or her with actions, they often find something around
the tools to deconstruct the L2 [English]. the classroom and ask how to say it (e.g.,
Early development of language skills, Teacher, what is this? while holding up a
such as semantics, syntax, narrative plastic bowl. This is an opportunity to say
discourse, and morphology, as well as bowl, emphasizing the /b/ sound).
phonological awareness, will provide
Play games that emphasize the first
the child with a meta understanding of
sound of common words (e.g., letter
language that he or she can apply to lan-
bingo, body freeze). Teachers play simple
guage development and literacy skills in
games that ask the child to name words
the L2.9
that begin with the same sound as the
Note: L1 refers to home language, and L2 refers to
first sound of her name, such as Maria,
English. Meta understanding of language refers
mama, meat. What other words start with
to the ability to think and talk about the features
of language (e.g., when speaking about something the same sound? Games help preschool
that happened in the past, you must change the children who are English learners recog-
verb, She is here, to She was here). nize similar onsets or the first consonant
or consonant cluster in a syllable.



Bringing It All Together

Ms. Lucindas preschool class was learners are able to learn critical English
studying a unit on families during the literacy skills while deepening their pride
first month of the school year. She had and knowledge of their own family.
carefully selected books about dif-
ferent aspects of family life; she had Engaging Families
found bilingual staff and volunteers
who read each story to English learn-
ers in their home language, pointing T he following ideas may engage fami-
lies in helping a child who is an
English learner:
out the key vocabulary words before
reading the book in English to the Families that are not literate may
whole class. After reading Abuela in be reluctant to read to their child in
English during story time, Ms. Lucinda their native language. Parents should
asked the children about their grand- always be encouraged to read story-
mothers. All of the children were books in their home language and, if
excited to share something about their they are not able to read their home
grandmothers. language, they can tell stories orally,
read wordless picture books, and say
Ms. Lucinda set out paper with writing
rhymes and sing songs.
and coloring materials on small tables.
The children went to different tables
during the course of the day. She, or Research Highlight
her co-teacher, talked with each child
about their grandmother and with the
help of the teacher, each child made
The conclusions from recent studies
a book with pictures and print. Ms. suggest that young children may gain
Lucinda then laminated each book important metalinguistic skills from
and had the author invite their grand- learning more than one language,
mother to the class and read the story that they are quite capable of learning
during circle time. Finally, all the chil- early literacy and language skills in two
dren took their books home to share languages, and that many early language
with their families. and literacy skills learned in the home
language (L1)contributed positively to
the development of English (L2)language
The topic of families has a high level of and literacy.11, 12, 13
interest for all children and yields many
Note: In this research, metalinguistic skills refer
possibilities for supplementary books,
to the ability to reflect upon and manipulate the
materials, and activities. Family mem-
structural features of spoken language such as the
bers may be invited to the classroom to morphology, sentence structure, and pragmatics
share details from their lives and honor of language.
the culture and languages of the chil-
dren. Young children who are English


Parents can also be shown how to ful resource for families of children
make an early literacy activity inter who are learning English. Parents can
active by having their children make be helped to locate the public library,
predictions, add to stories, or make apply for a free library card, and intro-
up their own. duced to all the books, materials, and
learning opportunities that are often
Most communities in California have
available in Spanish and English.
a public library that can be a wonder-

Questions for Reflection

1. How does a child who is an English learner demonstrate early
reading skills (e.g., appreciation of literacy activities, print aware-
ness, phonological awareness) in her home language?
2. What strategies are you using that incorporate the home language
in classroom routines and materials?
3. How are community volunteers who are fluent in the childrens
home languages and who can read to the children who are English
learners encouraged to come to the preschool?



he Writing strand for children who are English
learners is not substantially different
in focus from the language and literacy
Writing strand. The primary distinction between
the two sets of foundations is that the English
learners home language may be reflected in the
development of the childs writing stages.
For children who are native speakers of
English and children who are English
learners, writing is a process of active
discovery about a languages symbol
system as visually represented.
These foundations emphasize writing
as a means of communication, the
beginning of writing forms, and
writing to represent their names.

Young children are attempting to as socially competent participants

gain control over a languages symbol through adultchild and peerpeer
system by figuring out what symbols interaction around books. When this
mean while trying to make marks on occurs, opportunities for writing emerge
paper that approximate those symbols.14 that may provide children with practice
Environments that encourage writing in writing. To the extent possible, it is
should first and foremost view children important to provide children with a rich
as capable of making these connections oral language environment in both their
regardless of home language.15, 16 home language and English, because
According to Sulzby and Teale,17 it is emerging writing skills are linked to a
important for teachers to engage children childs oral language development.


1.0 Children Use Writing to Communicate Their Ideas

T hrough exposure to writing as a

means of communication, children
begin to learn that writing has many pur-
representation of oral language. They
can explore it, as it doesnt vanish like
the spoken word.18 For children who
poses, such as the provision of informa- are English learners, more instructional
tion, entertainment, and describing and support is needed in other language
remembering an event that has already areas, such as listening and speaking, to
occurred. When children make the con- become successful writers. Children who
nection between the written symbol and are English learners benefit from opportu-
its meaning, cognitive growth ensues. nities to write in their home language.19
When children write, they have a fixed

VIGNETTE Jaime and Sarita are playing in the dramatic play area, which has
been supplied with food props (e.g., plastic fruits and vegetables)
and writing materials. Jaime is carefully looking at the fruits and
vegetables when Sarita says, Por qu no jugamos restaurante?
(Why dont we play restaurant?) as she pulls Jaimes arm to make
him sit down in the nearby chair. Jaime goes along with the play
and sits down. In the meantime Sarita grabs some paper and mark-
ers that are located in the dramatic play area and quickly scribbles
some lines on a piece of paper and hands it to Jaime. Sarita says,
Qu gustarias? (What would you like?) Gustarias un banana,
un apple? Jaime smiles at Sarita and says, Un apple, por favor.

PLANNING A supportive environment for writing includes materials

LEARNING available for this purpose. Paper and markers in the
dramatic play area enable these English learners to
incorporate writing into their play in a spontaneous way.

The following interactions and strate- to know the childs level of second-
gies support children who are preschool language development before structuring
English learners: a question (e.g., in the home language or
with key words in the home language).
Look for opportunities for adult- and
Ask for clarification or elaboration of
peer-mediated conversation about
concepts. For example, if the child is
writing by using the childs home
writing about the animals he saw at the
language to initiate this discussion.
zoo over the weekend, the teacher asks
When children are engaged in writing, it
questions about the outing. This type of
is important for the teacher to ask what
interaction may provide opportunities to
they are writing about. For children who
reinforce words and phrases in English
are English learners, the teacher needs



and build vocabulary. The teacher accompany the drawing. Teachers should
may also provide opportunities in the allow code switching in childrens dictated
classroom where the children can interact stories.
with others and discuss what they are
Focus writing activities on literature.
writing. In the writing area children
It is helpful to connect writing to stories
have paper, markers, crayons, and letter
that are being used in the classroom and
are available in the book area. This strat-
Link writing to listening and speaking egy will provide the child with opportuni-
so preschool children who are English ties to revisit the story multiple times to
learners can draw from other language strengthen their understanding of specific
strengths. The classroom environment words and concepts in both their home
should be rich with printed materials, language and English.
including books in the childs home lan-
Supply learning areas with writing
guage, and wordless picture books that
materials (e.g., dramatic play, science,
children can use as a basis of discussion
and cooking). Children will have the tools
in their home language and then move on
to incorporate writing into their drama
to writing activities. For example, teach-
tic play. They can create such things as
ers may read The Little Red Hen and then
menus, personal letters, grocery lists,
discuss with the children why the other
and charts. For children who are learning
animals in the story did not want to help
English, having access to writing material
the little red hen. For children learning
in interest areas means there is no pres-
English, it is recommended that the story
sure for them to perform and provides
be read to them in their home language.
them with opportunities to experiment
See the Research Highlight on page 216.
with their second language both in written
If this is not possible, it is recommended
form and orally.
that program staff or other adults who
speak the childs home language read the Have children dictate their own short
book in the home language and stress stories. Dictated stories are a good way to
key concepts. Afterwards, when the book introduce the child to writing as a means
is read in English, the child who is an of description. Teachers may encourage
English learner will be better able to the child to share her stories and, if the
understand the story line and words in child uses her home language, adults who
English that may correspond to words in understand and can write the home lan-
her home language. In related follow-up guage write down what the child is saying.
activities, teachers provide finger-puppet These adults then read the childs words
facsimiles of farm animals in the block back to her. Teachers should allow for
area so that English learners have an code switching in childrens dictation. If
opportunity to play with the finger pup- no adult is available who can understand
pets and act out the story in their home and write the childs home language, a
language. Later, the children draw the peer might be engaged to interpret the
red hen or some of the other animals in description for the teacher and child.
the story and dictate a story or passage to



Bringing It All Together

The recent topic of study has been Spanish and English vocabulary. Ms.
ocean life, and Mr. Jason has been Adelaida smiles and then repeats his
reading related stories to the children. story, pointing to each word as she
Throughout the month, the storybooks speaks. Gustavo asks Ms. Adelaida
have been placed in the writing area, how to say the word negro (black) in
and children have been asked to dic- English because Swimmy is a little
tate the story to an adult who then black fish.
writes it down. Children can then
draw pictures about their story, and it
Mr. Jason and Ms. Adelaida know
is placed on the wall near the writing
that children who are beginning to learn
vocabulary in English may mix the two
Gustavo, a Spanish speaker, is sit- languages (i.e., code switch), and that
ting at a table with a large piece of is typical. These teachers know that the
chart paper with lines for writing text primary goal of the writing activity is the
and space for drawing a picture. Ms. connection between the written word and
Adelaida, a bilingual teacher assis- a particular concept or idea. They also
tant, sits next to him and asks in know that children who are English learn-
English, What story do you want to ers will use their home language to trans-
write about? She sees that Gustavo fer concepts or ideas to English, as is the
looks at her quizzically, and she then case when Gustavo asks how to say the
says in Spanish, De cual de los word negro in English. See the Research
cuentos quieres escribir? Gustavo Highlight on page 216.
replies, Swimmy and points to the
book on the shelf. Ms. Adelaida picks
Engaging Families
up a marker and says to Gustavo in
Spanish, Okay, Gustavo, qu gus-
tarias decir sobre el cuento? (Okay,
Gustavo, what would you like to say
T he following ideas may engage families
in helping their child who is an Eng-
lish learner:
about the story?) Gustavo begins by Encourage parents to provide oppor-
saying, Este es un cuento de un fish, tunities for their children to draw and
Swimmy. Swimmy swims fast. As scribble stories at home. If needed,
Gustavo speaks, Ms. Adelaida repeats send home writing material. Encour-
exactly what Gustavo says and writes age parents to work with their child
it down on the paper. Gustavo goes on to write a story about their family or
to describe the story using a combina- a special family celebration that they
tion of Spanish and English. attended. These stories can be in either
Later in the week, Gustavo points to the home language or English or a
his story, which is displayed on the combination of the two.
wall, as Ms. Adelaida stands nearby.
Encourage parents to draw childrens
Gustavo begins to recount the story
attention to print during daily routines.
he had previously dictated using both


As parents go about their day, they Encourage parents to read stories

can point out the print that is in their or poems in their home language to
environments to help children make strengthen the childs home language.
the connection between the concept By hearing stories or poems in their
or idea and the written word. Print home language, children may begin to
may be in their home language or in link print as a representation of either
English. English or their home language.

Questions for Reflection

Why was it important for the teachers to allow Gustavo to mix
languages (i.e., to code switch)?
What are some other ways to use dictated stories with English
What is the relationship between listening, speaking, and writing
for the English learner?



Diverse voci fanno dolce note; cosi diversi scanni in nostra vita rendon
dolce armonia . . . (Diverse voices make sweet music; as diverse
conditions in our life render sweet harmony.)
Dante, Paradiso IV:124126

eing exposed to two or more languages at a young age is a gift.
It is a gift because children who are able to learn through two
or more languages benefit cognitively, socially, and emotionally.
Children who develop bilingual competence show greater cognitive
flexibility as they deal with the meaning and structure of two different
language systems.20 These children also show a greater concentration
of brain growth and development, which appears to confer long-term
cognitive and academic benefits. Learning two languages has definite
social advantages because it allows children to learn about another
culture and way of life, thus expanding their worldview. Speaking two
languages provides an opportunity for multiple interpretations of words
and meanings, thus widening the learners universe and often providing a
basis for greater tolerance of different ideas, beliefs, and values. Because
there is a clear relationship between a childs sense of identity and his
first language,21 valuing the childs first language and including it as
an important part of instruction will help a child feel a greater sense of
belonging in the educational setting, which, in turn, enhances learning.
Exposure to more than one language should be celebrated as a growth
opportunity that offers many learning and social advantages. Children
who are developing bilingual abilities are developing unique strengths
that will add to the cultural and linguistic resources of California.


Map of the Foundations

Domain English-Language Development Reading | 127

Substrand 3.0 Children demonstrate an understanding of print conventions.

Focus: Book handling*
Focus Beginning Middle Later Level
Foundation 3.1 Begin to understand 3.1 Continue to develop 3.1 Demonstrate an
that books are read an understanding of understanding that
in a consistent man- how to read a book, print in English is
ner (e.g., in English, sometimes applying organized from left to
pages are turned knowledge of print right, top to bottom,
from right to left and conventions from the and that pages are
the print is read from home language. turned from right to
top to bottom, left to left when a book is
right; this may vary in read.
other languages).

Examples Examples Examples Examples

Rotates and flips the book Turns the pages of a book and Turns an upside-down book
over until the picture of talks about illustrations in either right side up and says, Lets
George is right side up on English or his home language. start here, when sitting and
the cover of Jorge el curioso Turns the pages of a book, reading with a peer in a
(Curious George) and begins although not necessarily one at rocking chair.
to look at the book. a time, talking quietly to herself Imitates the teacher reading
A Cantonese-speaking child in Arabic; tracks the print with to children by sitting next to a
picks up a book, and flips the her finger, moving from top to peer, holding up a book written
pages from left to right, look- bottom, right to left (the appro- in English that has been read
ing at the pictures (the appro- priate way to write and read in aloud several times; turns the
priate way to read a book in Arabic). pages and points to words,
Chinese). During circle time, turns the tracking the print with her fin-
page of a big book written in ger, moving from left to right
English in the appropriate direc- and top to bottom.
tion when the teacher indicates Communicates in Spanish,
it is time to turn the page. Haba una vez (Once upon a
time) when looking at the first
page of a book, looks through
the book, and communicates,
The end when reaching the
last page.

Includes notes * Some children may need assistance in holding a book or turning the pages, either through assistive technology or through
the help of an adult or peer. For example, a book can be mounted so it will not have to be held, and sturdy tabs can be
for children placed on the pages so they are easier to turn. Some children may need to have an adult or peer hold the book and turn
with disabilities the pages.


Teacher Resources

Academy for Education Development (AED). Journal of the National Association of the
2008. Making a Difference, A Framework Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
for Supporting First and Second Language 2005. Resources for Embracing Diversity
Development in Preschool Children of in Early Childhood Settings. https://
Migrant Farm Workers.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Associa- DiversityResourcesBTJ1105.pdf
tion (ASHA). Communication Development National Center for Learning Disabilities. Get
and Disorders in Multicultural Populations: Ready to Read. http://www.getreadytoread.
Reading and Related Materials http:// org/ National Clearinghouse for English Language
Acquisition (NCELA). 2006. Washington,
D.C. Resources About Early Childhood
American Speech-Language-Hearing Asso-
ciation (ASHA). Learning Two Languages
(available in Spanish and as a brochure) National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). 2009. Research Topics,
English Language Learners.
California Association for Bilingual Education
(CABE). National Taskforce on Early Childhood Educa-
California Department of Education. Web site tion for Hispanics. 2007. Expanding and
for Teachers of Preschool English Learners Improving Early Education for Hispanics. Colorn
Colorado: A Bilingual Site for Families ninos-expanding-and-improving-early-
and Educators of English Learners.
education-hispanics Reading Is Fundamental (RIF). 2008. Addi
Cooperative Childrens Book Center, School tional Parent Tip Sheet: Helping Your
of Education, University of Wisconsin-
Children Become Readers (literacy). http://
Madison. 50 Multicultural Books Every
Child Should Know. https:// Reading Is Fundamental (RIF). 2008. Bilingual Childrens Books.
detailListBooks.asp?idBookLists=42 books-activities/
The Early Authors Program, Ryerson Uni- Reading Is Fundamental (RIF). 2008. Bilin-
versity. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. gual Versions of Popular Childrens Books.
Espinosa, L. 2008. Challenging Common Reading Is Fundamental (RIF). 2008. Word-
Myths About Young English Learners. less and Almost Wordless Picture Books.
Foundation for Child Development.
common-myths-about-young-english- Reading Is Fundamental (RIF). 2008. 100
language-learners?destination=resources% 8.
of the Decades Best Multicultural Read-
2Fsearch%3Ftopic%3D0%26authors% Alouds, Pre-Kindergarten through Grade
3DEspinosa%26keywords%3D Selected and annotated by J. Freeman.
Genesee, F. 2006. Bilingual Acquisition. Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers
Earlychildhood NEWS. http://


RealeWriter (free, family-friendly picture Roseberry-McKibbin, C., and A. Brice. 2005.

books). Acquiring English as a Second Language:
Roberts, T. A. 2009. No Limits to Literacy for Whats Normal, Whats Not. American
Preschool English Learners. Thousand Oaks, Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
CA: Corwin Press.
This valuable resource helps teachers un- development/easl.htm
derstand how English learners ages three U.S. Department of Education. 2007. Teach-
to five acquire the foundations for literacy. ing Our Youngest: A Guide for Preschool
It offers practical, research-based strategies Teachers, Childcare, and Family Providers.
for teaching language and literacy skills. teachingouryoungest/index.html




Au, K. H. 2000. A multicultural perspective on Genishi, C., S. E. Stires, and D. Yung-Chan.

policies for improving literacy achievement: 2001. Writing in an integrated curriculum:
Equity and excellence. In Handbook of Prekindergarten English language learners
reading research, vol. 3, ed. M. L. Kamil, P. as symbol makers, The Elementary School
B. Mosenthal, P. D. Pearson, and R. Barr. Journal 101: 399416.
Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Goldenberg, C. 2008. Teaching English
August, D., and T. Shanahan. 2006. Develop- language learners: What the research
ing literacy in second-language learners: doesand does notsay, American
Report of the national literacy panel on lan- Educator 32, no. 1 (Summer): 823, 4244.
guage minority children and youth. Hoff, E. 2001. Language development. 2nd ed.
Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Ballantyne, K. G., and others. 2008. Dual Lopez, L. M., and D. B. Greenfield. 2004.
language learners in the early years: Getting Cross-language transfer of phonological
ready to succeed in school. Washington, skills of Hispanic Head Start children,
DC: National Clearinghouse for English Bilingual Research Journal 28, no. 1
Language Acquisition. (Spring): 118.
files/uploads/3/DLLs__in_the_Early_Years.pdf National Task Force on Early Childhood
Barone, D. M., and S. H. Xu. 2008 Literacy Education for Hispanics. 2007. Para
instruction for English language learners: nuestros nios: expanding and improving
Pre-K2. New York: Guilford. early education for Hispanics. Tempe, AZ:
Bernhard, J. K., and others. 2005. The Arizona State University.
early authors program: Implementing Preschool English learners: Principles and
transformative literacy in early childhood practices to promote language, literacy,
education. Paper presented at the annual and learning. 2009. 2nd ed. Sacramento:
meeting of the American Educational California Department of Education.
Researchers Association, Montreal, Quebec, Rivera, C., and E. Collum. 2006. State
Canada, April. assessment policy and practice for English
Bredekamp, S., and T. Rosegrant. 1995. language learners: A national perspective.
Reaching potentials: Transforming early Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
childhood curriculum and assessment. Samway, K. 2006. When English language
Washington, DC: National Association for learners write. Portsmouth, NH:
the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Heinemann.
Espinosa, L. 2008. A review of the literature Shanahan, T., and I. Beck. 2007. Effective
on assessment issues for young English literacy teaching for English-language
language learners. Paper prepared for learners. In Developing literacy in second-
the meeting of the NAS Committee on language learners: Report of the national
Developmental Outcomes and Assessments literacy panel on language minority children
for Young Children. Washington, DC, and youth, ed. D. August and T. Shanahan.
January. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Espinosa, L. 2009. Classroom teaching and Slavin, R. E., and A. Cheung. 2005. A syn-
instruction: What are best practices thesis of research on language of reading
for young English language learners? In instruction for English language learners,
Enhancing the knowledge base for serving Review of Education Research 75, no. 2:
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Garcia and E. Frede. New York: Teachers
College Press.


Sulzby, E., and W. Teal. 1991. Emergent Yaden, D. B., and J. M. Tardibuono. 2004.
literacy. In Vol. 2 of Handbook of Reading The emergent writing development of urban
Research, ed. R. Barr and others. New York: latino preschoolers: Developmental per-
Longman. spectives and instructional environments
Tabors, P. O. 2008. One child, two languages: for second-language learners, Reading and
A guide for early childhood educators of Writing Quarterly 20: 2961.
children learning English as a second
language. 2nd ed. Baltimore: Brookes.


1. California Preschool Learning Foundations, (accessed November 26, 2008).
Vol. 1 (Sacramento: California Department
of Education 2008). 103. 12. L. Espinosa, Classroom Teaching and
2. Preschool English Learners: Principles and Instruction: What Are Best Practices for
Practices to Promote Language, Literacy, and Young English Language Learners? in
Learning, 2nd ed. (Sacramento: California Enhancing the Knowledge Base for Serving
Department of Education, 2009), 7188. Young English Language Learners, ed. by E.
3. T. Shanahan and I. Beck, Effective Literacy Garcia and E. Frede (New York: Teachers
Teaching for English-Language Learners, College Press, 2009).
in Developing Literacy in Second-Language 13. R. E. Slavin and A. Cheung, A Synthesis of
Learners: Report of the National Literacy Research on Language of Reading Instruc-
Panel on Language Minority Children and tion for English Language Learners, Review
Youth. Edited by D. August and T. Shana- of Education Research 75, no. 2 (2005):
han (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2007). 24781.
4. Preschool English Learners: Principles and 14. D. B. Yaden and J. M. Tardibuono, The
Practices to Promote Language, Literacy, and Emergent Writing Development of Urban
Learning, 2nd ed. (Sacramento: California Latino Preschoolers: Developmental Per-
Department of Education, 2009), 7188. spectives and Instructional Environments
5. P. O. Tabors, One Child, Two Languages: for Second-Language Learners, Reading
A Guide for Early Childhood Educators of and Writing Quarterly 20 (2004): 2961.
Children Learning English as a Second Lan- 15. C. Genishi, S. E. Stires, and D. Yung-Chan,
guage, 2nd ed. (Baltimore: Brookes, 2008). Writing in an Integrated Curriculum: Pre-
6. Preschool English Learners: Principles and kindergarten English Language Learners
Practices to Promote Language, Literacy, and as Symbol Makers, The Elementary School
Learning, 2nd ed. (Sacramento: California Journal 101 (2001): 399416.
Department of Education, 2007), 7188. 16. Ibid.
7. E. Bialystok, Bilingualism in Development: 17. E. Sulzby and W. Teale, The Development
Language, Literacy, and Cognition (Cam- of the Young Child and the Emergence
bridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, of Literacy, in Handbook of Research on
2001). Teaching the English Language Arts. Edited
8. C. Goldenberg, Teaching English Language by J. Flood and others (Mahwah, NJ: Erl-
Learners: What the Research Doesand baum, 2003), 30013.
Does NotSay, American Educator 32, 18. D. M. Barone and S. H. Xu, 2008, Literacy
no. 1 (Summer 2008): 823 and 4244. Instruction for English Language Learners:
9. L. M. Lopez and D. B. Greenfield, Cross- Pre-K2 (New York: Guilford, 2008), 110.
Language Transfer of Phonological Skills 19. K. Samway, When English Language Learn-
of Hispanic Head Start Children, Bilingual ers Write (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann,
Research Journal 28, no.1, (Spring 2004): 2006).
13. 20. E. Bialystok and M. M. Martin, Attention
10. A. Ada, F. I. Campoy, and A. Schertle, Pio and Inhabitation in Bilingual Children: Evi-
Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes dence from the Multidimensional Change
(New York: HarperCollins, 2003). Card Sort Task, Developmental Science 7
11. W. Thomas and V. Collier, A National Study (2004): 32539.
of School Effectiveness for Language Minority 21. Eager to Learn: Educating Our Preschool-
Students Long-Term Academic Achievement ers, ed. by B. T. Bowman, M. S. Donovan,
(Santa Cruz, CA: Center for Research on and M. S. Burns (Washington, DC: National
Education, Diversity and Excellence, 2002). Academy Press, 2000).




athematics is a natural part of the preschool environment.
Young children actively construct mathematical knowledge
through everyday interactions with their environment, whether
inside or outside. When building in the block area or sorting blocks by
shape, children explore geometry in the real world. When measuring two
cups of flour and three spoons of sugar in a cooking activity, they learn
principles of measurement. Climbing in and out of cardboard boxes,
crawling through a tunnel, or riding a bike helps children develop a sense
of spatial relationships (e.g., on, under, over). Mathematics learning
grows naturally from childrens curiosity and enthusiasm to learn and
explore their environment. Teachers should encourage childrens natural
enthusiasm and interest in doing mathematics and use it as a vehicle
for supporting the development of childrens mathematical concepts
and skills.

Young children seem to have an innate they have more than they did before, and
sense of informal mathematics. They if some were taken away, they now have
develop a substantive body of informal less. During the preschool years, children
knowledge of mathematics from infancy continue to show a spontaneous inter-
throughout the preschool years. By the est in mathematics and further develop
age of three, they have already begun to their mathematical knowledge and skills
acquire knowledge of number. related to number, quantity, size, shape,
They have learned to say their and space.
first number words and With the growing evidence about
count small concrete sets of childrens math capacities in the early
objects. They understand years and the significance of early math
the idea of more and less. experiences, there is a general consensus
If they are given more that high-quality, challenging and
crackers (or more of a accessible mathematics educa-
substance such as tion for three- to six-year-old
play dough), they children is a vital founda-


tion for future mathematics learning.1 different cups with sand and discussing
High-quality mathematics education in which cup is the smallest or the largest
preschool is not about elementary arith- or how many cups of sand it would take
metic being pushed down onto younger to fill up a bucket introduces children to
children. It is broader than mere practice concepts of comparison and measure-
in counting and arithmetic. It is about ment. Preschool teachers nurture chil-
children experiencing mathematics as drens natural enthusiasm and interest in
they explore ideas of more and less, learning mathematics. They help children
count objects, make comparisons, cre- build their knowledge and skills of math-
ate patterns, sort and measure objects, ematics over time, by providing a math-
and explore shapes in space. Mathemat- ematically rich environment, by modeling
ics learning happens throughout the mathematical thinking and reasoning,
day, and it is integrated with learning and by introducing children to the lan-
and developing in other developmental guage of math.2 Teachers guide, support,
domains such as language and literacy, and challenge children in the journey of
social-emotional, science, music, and exploring and constructing mathemati-
movement. cal knowledge. As stated by the National
Council of Teachers of Mathematics
. . . adults can foster childrens math-
ematical development by providing envi-
ronments rich in language, where think-
ing is encouraged, uniqueness is valued,
and exploration is supported. Play is
childrens work. Adults support young
childrens diligence and mathematical
development when they direct attention
to the mathematics children use in their
play, challenge them to solve problems
and encourage their persistence.3
Teachers have a significant role in facil- When teachers join children in becom-
itating childrens construction of math- ing keen observers of their environment
ematical concepts. They may not always and in reasoning about numbers, shapes,
realize the extent to which their current and patterns, mathematics is enjoyable
everyday classroom practices support and exciting for all.
childrens mathematical development.
For example, when singing with children
Five Little Ducks Went Out One Day, Guiding Principles
incorporating finger play with counting,

the teacher develops childrens counting he following principles will guide
skills and understanding of number. Dis- teachers classroom practices in
cussing with children how many children establishing a high-quality, challenging,
came to school today and how many are and sensitive early mathematics pre-
missing supports childrens arithmetic school program. These principles are
and reasoning with numbers. Playing partially based on the ten recommenda-
with children in the sandbox by filling up tions in Early Childhood Mathematics:


Promoting Good Beginnings set forth by clarifications, more advanced chal-

the National Association for the Educa- lenges, and the development of new
tion of Young Children and NCTM in understandings.
Use everyday activities as natural
Build on preschool childrens natural vehicles for developing preschool
interest in mathematics and their childrens mathematical knowledge
intuitive and informal mathematical Children can learn mathematical
knowledge concepts through play and everyday
Young children are mathematically activities as they interact with materi-
competent, motivated, and naturally als and investigate problems. Putting
interested in exploring mathematical toys away, playing with blocks, helping
ideas and concepts. Teachers should to set the table before snack, or play-
recognize childrens early mathemati- ing with buckets of varying sizes in
cal competence and build on childrens the sand are all opportunities for chil-
disposition to use mathematics as a dren to learn about key mathematical
way to make sense of their world. concepts such as sorting, geometry,
number, and measurements. Teachers
Encourage inquiry and exploration
to foster problem solving and should build upon the naturally occur-
mathematical reasoning ring mathematics in childrens daily
Mathematical reasoning and problem activities and capitalize on teachable
solving are natural to all children as moments during such activities to
they explore the world around them. extend childrens mathematical under-
The most powerful mathematics learn- standing and interest.
ing for preschool children often results Introduce mathematical concepts
from their own explorations. Teachers through intentionally planned
should maintain an environment that experiences
nurtures childrens inquiry and explo- In addition to the meaningful mathe-
ration of mathematical ideas and that matics that preschool children acquire
values problem solving. They should spontaneously through play and every-
ask children questions to stimulate day activities, teachers should provide
mathematical conversations and carefully planned experiences that
encourage mathematical reasoning focus childrens attention on particu-
through everyday interactions. Teach- lar mathematical concepts, methods,
ers meaningful questions can lead to and the language of math. Mathemati-
cal experiences planned in advance
would allow teachers to present con-
cepts in a logical sequence and forge
links between previously encountered
mathematical ideas and new applica-
tions. Teachers should build on what
the child already knows and reason-
ably challenge the child in acquiring
new skills or knowledge. Teachers
can foster childrens understanding


of mathematical concepts over time Support English learners in develop-

through intentional involvement with ing mathematical knowledge as they
mathematical ideas in preschool and concurrently acquire English
by helping families extend and develop Teachers should be aware of the
these ideas. challenges faced by children who are
English learners and apply specific
Provide a mathematically rich
environment instructional strategies to help children
Arranging a high-quality physical envi- learning English acquire mathemati-
ronment is important for childrens cal concepts and skills. To provide
mathematical development. It should children who are English learners
offer children opportunities to experi- with comprehensible information, they
ment and learn about key mathemati- should simplify the terms they use,
cal concepts naturally throughout the make extensive use of manipulatives,
classroom and throughout the day. illustrate the meaning of words by act-
ing and modeling whenever possible,
Provide an environment rich in and encourage children to use terms
language, and introduce preschool in their home language. Repetition,
children to the language of math- paraphrasing, and elaboration by the
ematics teacher also help preschool children
Language is a critical element in math- who are English learners understand
ematics. Children should be introduced the content of the conversation. Teach-
to mathematical vocabulary as well ers are encouraged to use mathemati-
as to natural language in meaningful cal terms as often as possible and in
contexts. During the preschool years, as many different settings as possible.
children learn mathematical language Teachers attentive and modified talk
such as the number words, the names helps young children learning English
for shapes, words to compare quan- to understand mathematical concepts
tity (e.g., bigger, smaller), and words to and to develop the language skills they
describe position and direction in space need to communicate mathematical
(e.g., in, on, above). Children often have ideas.4
an intuitive understanding of math-
ematical concepts but lack the vocabu- Observe preschool children and
lary and the conceptual framework of listen to them
mathematics. By introducing children Observe children thoughtfully, listen
to mathematical vocabulary, teachers carefully to their ideas, and talk
help mathematize what children intu- with them. Close observation allows
itively grasp. Language allows children teachers to identify thought-provok-
to become aware of their mathematical ing moments through everyday play,
thinking and to express it in words. where mathematical concepts can be
Children with delays in development, clarified, extended, and reinforced,
especially in language development, and children can be prompted to make
may need more frequent repetition of new discoveries. Observing and lis-
the words combined with a demonstra- tening to children also allows teach-
tion of the concept. ers to learn about childrens interests
and attitudes and to assess childrens
mathematical knowledge and skills.


Take into account that mathematical teachers should ask for ideas from the
knowledge is not always expressed ver- specialists and families.
bally. Children may know a lot about
Establish a partnership with parents
number, size, or shape without having
and other caregivers in supporting
the words to describe what they know.
childrens learning of mathematics
Recognize and support the Parents and other caregivers should be
individual partners in the process of supporting
Provide an environment in which childrens mathematics development.
all children can learn mathematics, Parents serve as role models for chil-
set appropriately high expectations dren. When parents become involved
for all children, and support indi- in their childrens mathematics educa-
vidual growth. Children differ in their tion, children become more engaged
strengths, interests, approaches to and excited. Teachers should com-
learning, knowledge, and skills. They municate to parents what preschool
may also have special learning needs. mathematics is about, age-appropriate
Young children, therefore, may con- expectations for mathematics learning
struct mathematical understanding in at the preschool level, and how math-
different ways, at varying rates, and ematics learning is supported in the
with different materials. To be effec- preschool environment. They should
tive, teachers should respond to each also convey to parents the importance
child individually. They should find of mathematics and what they can do
out what young children already know at home for supporting childrens math
and build on the childrens individual development. By talking with par-
strengths and ways of learning. Teach- ents, teachers could also learn about
ers should provide children with a vari- children