Child Development

Mental Health

It is the strong belief of BRAD Child Development Programs that we can not effectively prepare children for kindergarten and life there after unless we work with the whole child. Often children, whose families are experiencing stress, are also feeling the effects of disharmony themselves. Children need emotional support to grow and develop in other domains. We have a powerful social–emotional component woven throughout our curriculum. We have mental health observations made at least twice per program year by a mental health professional. At these times, staff and parents are free to seek assistance. The mental health professional also observes the children to determine any needs. Since we are a strengths model, we prefer the term mental wellness and we strive to help children learn appropriate coping techniques that allow them to be resilient and overcome the factors that put them at risk for school failure.

Sound Child Development

All decisions made on behalf of the children enrolled in BRAD Child Development Programs are based on a strong knowledge of child development.  Staff members receive numerous hours of in-service annually to broaden their knowledge base of child development.  Parents are invited to participate in all training opportunities.  Parents also have access to a resource library at each center which has numerous books, videos, and pamphlets on child rearing issues.  Many staff are currently in college pursuing a Child Development degree.  It is our belief that if the important people in a child’s life, parents and teacher/caregivers, all are knowledgeable about the needs of children, we will be more likely to meet each child’s individual needs.

Materials

Materials are rotated frequently to meet individual goals of children as well as to provide interest and discovery.  Teachers and caregivers will help parents recognize materials in the home that can be used for exploration and literacy activities.  Staff considers children’s developmental level and skills when selecting appropriate and challenging materials to foster growth and positive outcome.

Roles & Responsibilities

Parents are expected to actively participate in the ongoing educational program by volunteering in the center, attending parent meetings, providing input into the curriculum and serving on various center committees.  Staff will develop individualized activities and experiences to foster each child’s growth toward reaching his/her potential.  An on-going assessment will allow staff and parents to monitor and make modification while directing children toward successful solutions.  The staff will gather data through anecdotal recordings, daily observation notes, portfolio material and checklists.  This information will be used to determine child outcome and it will be shared with the parents.  The child outcomes will determine how the child benefited from the time in Head Start/Early Head Start.  Parents and staff working together and a planned, organized, intentional curriculum support child development and education for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Experiences

Experiences are planned and intentionally presented to children.  To support the hands on learning experience that children need to gain understanding, staff create environments and select materials that foster growth and development toward a specific goal.  Classroom activities/experiences are organized around a weekly theme providing individualization of daily activities based on the child’s needs, developmental strengths, interests, cultural background, temperament, and learning style.  Classroom activities/experiences will be a part of a sequential continuum and will be organized to maximize children’s success.  Classrooms are equipped with learning centers/interest areas, which include Blocks, Art, Sand & Water, Pretend and Learn, Library, Science, Writing, ABC and Manipulatives.

Goals

Children will develop socially, emotionally, cognitively and physically in a developmentally appropriate manner to achieve the overall goal of social competence.  Competencies include developing relationships with caregivers, teachers and peers, forming a sense of trust and security and the ability to express thoughts and feelings.  Other competencies considered are the ability to identify and solve problems, critical thinking and an increase of self-confidence.  Additional goals for children include the ability to respect the feelings and rights of others, and the ability to use creativity and imagination.  Children will move forward toward the goal of working independently as well as working cooperatively with others.  In an effort to help children form a foundation for school readiness, children will work toward the goals of developing literacy, numeracy, reasoning, problem solving and decision making skills. BRAD Child Development Programs have a rich pre-literacy curriculum that is developmentally appropriate and includes letter recognition, book handling skills, phonemic awareness, and language development.

Curriculum Plan

Children who participate in BRAD Child Development Programs will be guided to gain the skills and confidence necessary to be prepared to succeed in their present environment and with later responsibilities in school and in life as directed in the Head Start Standards.  In keeping with the standards, the approach must be developmentally appropriate and inclusive.  BRAD Child Development Programs have adapted The Creative Curriculum written by Diane Trister Dodge and Laura J. Colker and the Arkansas Early Childhood Education Framework for three and four year olds, as a means of establishing goals, providing experiences, and selecting developmentally appropriate supplies and materials for children in Head Start.  Infants and toddlers in Early Head Start are screened using the E-Lap and ongoing assessment is completed using Ages and Stages. Caregiver and parental observation regarding the child’s growth and development are recorded and goals are established.  The Early Learning Achievement Profile and Ages and Stages are both used to develop activities for infants and toddlers.  BRAD Child Development Programs recognize the critical role that parents and staff have in working together to individualize the curriculum to meet the needs of individual children.  Individualization is based on sound child development practices as well as patterns of growth and development in children and individual differences in children.