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Start and Head Start programs must use the ELOF as a guide to plan teaching strategies
and environments, establish goals for children in preparation for school, choose curricula
and assessments, plan and offer professional development, and guide program planning,
improvement, and implementation. English and Spanish versions of the ELOF and sup-
plemental resources are available online at https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/school-readiness
/article/head-start-early-learning-outcomes-framework. Early Childhood Program Standards
The largest system for accrediting individual programs is administered by the National
Association for the Education of Young Children. NAEYC’s accreditation standards are
based on child development research and best practices in programs serving infants
through kindergarten-age children and define what the NAEYC believes all early child-
hood programs should provide. Quality criteria are organized within ten standards:
relationships, curriculum, teaching, assessment of child progress, health, teachers, fam-
ilies, community relationships, physical environment, and leadership and management.
As when addressing early learning standards, going through the accreditation process
is a shared responsibility among program administrators and staff. Learn more about
NAEYC’s accreditation of early learning programs at www.naeyc.org/academy.
Professional Preparation Standards
NAEYC has also issued Standards for Early Childhood Professional Preparation. They are
designed to cover a range of early childhood roles and settings and apply to professional
preparation for higher education degree levels from associate’s to BA or BS to graduate
studies. Here are the six standards issued by NAEYC (2009, 11–17):
1. Promoting Child Development and Learning. Educators need to acquire a
solid child development knowledge base.
2. Building Family and Community Relationships. Educators learn to develop
reciprocal relationships with families and communities. Educators involve all
families in their children’s development and learning.
3. Observing, Documenting, and Assessing to Support Young Children and
Families. Educators build the skills needed to conduct observations, document
learning, and use other forms of assessment to keep track of and address chil-
dren’s development, strengths, and needs.
4. Using Developmentally Effective Approaches to Connect with Children and
Families. Educators gain the ability to use developmentally appropriate practice
to support children’s development and build positive relationships with families.
5. Using Content Knowledge to Build Meaningful Curriculum. Educators learn
how to plan and implement strategies for incorporating content disciplines in
the early childhood curriculum.
6. Becoming a Professional. Early childhood educators accept their roles as mem-
bers of an important profession who uphold standards and advocate for use of
best practices to support young children.
Foundations for Quality 7