Goal 1: All children will be given the opportunity to build language by listening to language and understanding increasingly complex language. (May be English or other languages.)
Expectant families will receive information regarding early learning. They will be encouraged to talk to their baby before and after birth and to interact with their newborns by making eye contact with their baby and talking softly when participating in daily routines.
Infants will have opportunities to be spoken to softly and often during the day. Their names will be used and the sounds infants make will be repeated to them. The infant’s response of looking at the person who is quietly speaking will be encouraged. They will be encouraged in their development when enjoying adult’s singing, laughing, and talking; and participating in “turn-taking” conversations with adults through facial expressions, gestures, cooing, babbling, and singing. Turn-taking is when the adult responds to the child and then waits for the child to respond, or the adult mimics what the child does and waits for the child to respond. Young infants will have their sounds repeated to them, things named for them, and what the teachers are doing explained through “self-talk”, or what the child is doing expressed through “parallel-talk”. Self-talk is when the adult expresses verbally what they are doing; i.e.; “I am going to pick you up now so I can change your diaper.” Parallel-talk is when the adult expresses what the child is doing; i.e.; “I see that you are watching the mobile spin. I like the way you are using your eyes.”
For Older Infants, this includes incorporating an increasing number of non-verbal communications, including pointing, head turning, hand motions; including sign language; beginning to use sounds of words (such as wa-wa for water); and making the transition to spoken language, using the names of objects activities, and friends. Teachers will explain their actions and activities through self-talk, or what the child is doing through parallel-talk; (“I am going to write down what time you ate so that your momma will know what we did today.” “I see that you are looking in the mirror. Do you see your eyes?”
Toddlers will have opportunities to be told what is happening in the classroom, to them and for them through the above mentioned interaction of self and parallel-talk. Toddlers will be encouraged as they move from two-word sentences to recounting events through adults repeating words to them, naming things for them. They will be encouraged to recount events by adults reminding them of events that have happened during the day and in days past. Oral language activities and playful language such as chants, poems, nursery rhymes, and songs are a regular part of the program.
Goal 2: All children will be given the opportunity to participate in conversation with adults and their peers.
Expectant families will receive information regarding the development of children and the importance of speaking to children, and listening to the sounds and word that adults uses, as the child grows, including the practice of turn-taking.
Infants will advance in learning language skills through having responsive care provided by nurturing, trusted caregivers when they are touched, smiled at, and held. They will be encouraged through non-verbal expression of communication that may include pointing, head turning, hand motions, and taking-turns with an adult talking with them, and to them. They will respond by smiling and cooing in response to an adults words, singing, laughing, and repeating the infant’s sounds back to them. The caregiver will explain the actions being taken to offer routine care for the infant. (i.e.; I am going to make your bottle now, I hear the sounds you make when you get hungry.”
For Older Infants,this includes using language or language-like sounds in “conversations” with adults and friends and using one or two words to communicate. They will be encouraged through non-verbal expressions, which might include simple sign-language; as well as having sounds repeated and having things named for them. They will be encouraged through turn-taking of sounds and responses that allow the child time to respond. The child’s attempts at speaking will be respected.
Toddlers will be encouraged through non-verbal expression of communication as well as encouraged by caregivers who practice repeating attempted sounds of words and having things named for them through turn-taking of sounds and responses that allow the child time to respond. The child’s attempts at speaking will be respected. Toddlers will begin understanding and following directions, such as, “Bring your coat and your hat”; remembering words to songs and finger-plays; conversing with friends; using language to describe an event (seen or imagined), and to plan or negotiate play; and add “ing” to a verb or “s” to a noun. They will be encouraged to use increasingly more complex wording, and language will be modeled for them by the teaching staff. Time will be provided for conversations, asking and answering questions that require more than one-word answers. Information will be added to what children say. For example, when a child says, “Water.” the teacher’s response would be to add more words when repeating the request, “You would like a drink of water, please?”, then allowing the child time to respond. Things in the classroom will be labeled in several languages, as well as the use of flannel boards, puppets, songs, and finger plays being encouraged.
Goal 3: Children will hear and distinguish the sounds and rhythms of language and music. Whenever possible, staff will be included in the classroom that use and know the child’s primary language, and English, whenever the primary language is not English.
Expectant families will receive information about the importance of children hearing the sounds of language in their home language, if not English. They will be encouraged to share their cultural music with their children both before birth and after, share rhythms, and play with the sounds of language. Families whose primary language is not English will have the opportunity to learn that children can learn more than one language at a time without “losing” the primary language, and can come to the understanding that a child can learn languages at the same time.
For Infants, this includes attending to the languages spoken around them (both English and their home languages), as well as the sounds of their family’s cultural preference in music. Diverse cultural music will be encouraged in classrooms. Teachers will be encouraged to speak to children by using words that describe both what the teacher is doing and what the child is doing; “self talk” and “parallel talk” (“I am going to fix your bottle now” or “I see that you are playing with the blue dog.”) Singing and repeating nursery rhymes in the child’s home language will be encouraged.
For Older Infants, this includes enjoying and playing with language-like sounds, listening and responding to music and rhythms as the teachers expose them to playing with sounds and listening to music and rhythms. Teachers will use sounds and rhythms throughout the day that encourage responses from the children. When a teacher makes eye contact with a child the teacher could say, “Da, da, da” and encourage the child to have a turn repeating the sounds the teacher has made. Diverse cultural music will be encouraged in the classrooms.
Toddlers will be spoken to in their home language, if not English, whenever possible. This includes enjoying and playing with language-like sounds, listening and responding to music and rhythms as the teachers expose them to playing with sounds and listening to music and rhythms. Teachers will understand the importance of culture and linguistic consistency. Toddlers will be encouraged to make sounds, such as using the “s” for plurals and creating words like “mouses”; enjoying rhymes, and using complete sentences when speaking. Children are honored for the language they share, and when a child misuses a word this is an opportunity or the teacher to repeat what the child has said using the correct word, as in “mice”. In example, the child says, “See five mouses” the teacher can respond, “Yes, there are five mice.”
Goal 4: Children will demonstrate an interest in books by hearing and being read to throughout the day.
Expectant families will receive information about the importance of reading to their child. They will be encouraged to share books and the sound of reading with their child before birth and after.
Infants will be allowed to explore culturally diverse books and be read to throughout the day. This includes looking at photos as an adult describes them; exploring books by mouthing, chewing, patting, and banging, and holding a book and trying to turn pages, and responding to an adult’s excited voice when reading a story; and looking at books every day.
For Older Infants, this includes making sounds when looking at pictures in books (e.g. saying “a, a” when looking at a picture of a cat); turning pages of a book, sometimes turning more than one at a time; recognizing a favorite book by its cover; and pretending to read environmental print (e.g. print on a cereal box); this also includes scribbling with a crayon.
For Toddlers, this will include having a variety of books that show cultural diversity. They will be read to throughout the day. They will be encouraged to “read” themselves, to a friend, or to stuffed animals. They will be shown pictures in the book and told the item by name, and be encouraged to repeat the words they hear. Toddlers will be encouraged to listen to longer stories and adults talking about the characters in the story. They will be encouraged to answer questions from the story.
Sources: Office of Head Start National Resource Center; Creative Curriculum and Teaching Strategies Gold; Early Childhood Council, Early Head Start of the San Luis Valley School Readiness Goals; Colorado Department of Education, Quality Standards for Early Childhood Care and Education Services