Discover the Difference: The Benefits of Early Childhood Education
by Diocese of Des Moines | February 19, 2020
What is Early Childhood Education?
Early childhood education is a continuum of programs, services, and classes designed to support brain development, cognitive function and the social-emotional growth of children ages 3-5 (before they begin kindergarten). While programs can vary in their scope and educational offerings, there are key differentiators found in a high-quality early childhood education program (Bishop, 2016).
These differentiators include:
- Age-appropriate, evidence-based curriculum that supports all areas of development.
- Student assessment to enhance student learning and identify individual needs.
- Small class size and low student - teacher ratios.
- Well-prepared teachers who provide engaging interactions and classroom environments that support learning.
- Parents are provided feedback on their child's progress and have opportunities to be involved.
- Continuous quality improvement within the program and ongoing professional development for those facilitating the program.
All of these differentiators are present in all early childhood education programs across the Diocese of Des Moines.
Benefits of Early Childhood Education
"Recognizing that the earliest years of a child’s life are some of the most formative, the Diocese of Des Moines believes children should have access to high-quality educational opportunities as early as possible," says Donna Bishop, Superintendent of Schools. "Research suggests that when provided with stimulating classroom environments and supportive relationships, children-especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds-experience better academic outcomes and improved social-emotional development. Providing the necessary age appropriate skill sets is a crucial step in closing the persistent achievement gap and setting children on a path toward success."
In order to ensure that the developmental gains from high-quality early learning are maintained and that children are able to build on a strong foundation, it is critical that children have consistent access to effective instruction. Increasingly, researchers are recognizing the importance of creating alignment across educational policies and instructional practices from preschool to third grade to insure the transition from learning to read to reading to learn.
According to Harvard University Center on the Developing Child, "The emotional and physical health, social skills, and cognitive-linguistic capacities that emerge in the early years are all important prerequisites for success in school and later in the workplace and community," (Harvard, 2020).
Our schools provide a Christ centered instructional curriculum to teach children the values and morals of our Catholic faith. The curriculum also emphasizes fundamental, school-ready principles along with basic social skills while developing daily functional skills. Students will have the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular activities such as music, P.E, Library, art and STEM.
What Early Childhood Education programs are offered?
The Diocese of Des Moines Catholic Schools offer a full continuum of early childhood education classes. We offer full-day Preschool (3-year-olds), Pre-Kindergarten (4-year-olds), Transitional Kindergarten (5-year-olds not yet ready for kindergarten), and Extended Care (care provided before the school day begins and after the school day ends). Part-time classes are available only if full-time spots remain open. The Diocese of Des Moines offers full-day early childhood education as research shows, "Children who attended an extended-day, extended-year preschool program experienced greater improvement in test scores compared to peers who attended half-day programs. The difference in performance gains over time was evident for measures of both verbal and mathematic abilities," (NEA, 2006).
Our early childhood education curriculum is aligned with Iowa Common Core and our K-12 school curriculum. Coursework includes faith-formation, academic growth, social skills development, and enrichment activities like art, PE, library and computer classes. Our focus on literacy development helps ensure students are at or above grade level across all disciplines by third grade.
Want to Give Your Little One a Jump Start?
Schools throughout the Diocese of Des Moines are now enrolling for the 2020-2021 school year. Space in our early childhood education programs is limited. Visit www.dmdiocese.org/catholic-schools to find a Catholic school near you today!
Harvard University. (2020). The Science of Early Childhood Development. Retrieved February 8, 2020 from https://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/inbrief-science-of-ecd/.
Bishop,J, Melnick, H. & Wechsler, M. (2016). The Building Blocks of High Quality Early Childhood Education Programs. Retrieved February 8, 2020 from https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/building-blocks-high-quality-early-childhood-education-programsNational Education Association, (2006). Policy Makers Should Consider Full-Day Preschool. Retrieved February 8, 2020 from http://www.nea.org/home/18204.htm.
PreschoolTeacher.org. (2020). What is Early Childhood Education? Retrieved February 8, 2020 from https://www.preschoolteacher.org/what-is-early-childhood-education/.