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Quality Early Childhood Programs for Children 0 4

Lauren Burgess

University of South Carolina


During service learning one, there were many aspects observed at my self-selected

school. I observed four year olds as well as their environment, teachers, curriculum,

relationships, staff, administration, parent involvement, health and safety, and nutrition and food

services. This schools classrooms had many aspects that were predicted of this age and fit the

general needs of the children.

Interactions Between Teachers and Children

The interactions I observed at this school varied depending on activities. When it was

time to learn, the children listened and gather around the teacher as she facilitated a project or

investigation. The children become engaged because the topic has something to do with what

they have been learning about, in this case they were studying the difference between melody

and harmony. The teacher then explained the topic while the young children listened and recalled

information they had learned from before. Being that this is a very small class of only nine

children, they did not break into groups to investigate, but did this as a whole class effort. This is

known as Project Approach, where small groups of children are involved in an investigation or

project (Morrison, 2014, p.111). After an explanation, the teacher and student interactions

become very minimal while the teacher played a cartoon about the three little pigs, a common

folk tale. In the cartoon, the pigs sang while there was music in the background. The children

watched and listen while the teacher sat back. When the cartoon finished, the teacher simply

asked the students what they heard, and to hum or sing it back to her. Though this was not

exactly hands on, the children were left to investigate and then respond to questions about the

topic. Teachers were mostly hands-off by not giving students the answer whether they heard

melody or harmony, and corrected them until they reached the final correct answer. This is a very

common and effective method called scaffolding where the teacher assists the child to finding

the right answer. It is also used in childhood learning because it provides children with

appropriate experiences that extend and enrich project learning habits (Morrison, 2014, p.111).


Again the curriculum was mainly based on the project approach which is a quality route

of learning because it involves child investigation. Another example of this is the students were

currently learning about worms and their environment. To engage the children in the topic the

teacher first introduced worms by asking the children what they previously new about worms.

Many shouted They live in dirt and They are pink. These very basic answers show that the

children were capitalizing on their preschool knowledge. Preschool has become increasingly

popular because it prepares children for real classes and grades (Morrison, 2014, p.231).

Following their responses, the teacher began reading aloud to the students while they sat in a

circle around her. She then asked the children what are more ways to learn about worms? The

class later took a trip to the library where they checked out books to learn more about their topic.

In the next lesson they took their books and began to draw what they saw: the worms body parts

and the worms environment. Slowly the class investigated the creatures on their own, and day

by day learn more about worms. The teacher only became involved when then student needed

guidance or to confirm or deny their answer. This promotes John Deweys use of projects and

constructivist ideas and practices (Morrison, 2014, p.132). Their curriculum touched other

subjects like math and reading. One instance of a math lesson was reading a book that talked

about a cat loosing his buttons. The book was engaging as well as coaxing the children into

thinking on their own about how many buttons the cat had left on his jacket. During reading, the

children would either practice with the teacher one on one, or they all would read aloud together.

Relationships Among Teachers and Families

Though I was not present, parent teacher conferences occurred when requested by the

parent or teacher. I asked my mentor whether any had occurred lately and she said she had not

seen any reason to meet with parents, for the majority of her students were exceeding her

expectations. She had also told me that the behavior of one student had presented a slight issue to

her and her assistant, but by telling the child that they were going to talk to mommy and daddy

the child quickly adjusted their behavior. I talked to one parent who was there as a substitute, and

she could do nothing but rave about the school and wish it was pre-k to twelfth grade. She

continued to say how amazing the staff is, and how much her children learned since being there.

This interaction between families is very important because it allows them to stay on the same

progressive course for the child. The parent is the most important factor in a childs education

because they lay the foundation, and they are the childs primary educator (Morrison, 2014,


Staff Qualifications

According to the school website, all of the teachers graduated from colleges with majors

in their general field. The two teachers I worked with had multiple years of experience after their

degree. The assistants varied, some had degrees while others had experience. Though the school

is private, I am assuming that like public schools, they require degrees for head coordinators. The

staff is very qualified to be teaching and nurturing the children since every classroom had a state

qualified teacher in the room (State Board of Education, 2015, ch. 3).

Administration and Staffing

The administration and staff worked pretty well together. They were open to observers

though they lacked communication when it came to placing me in a class. When I first entered

the building, the front support staff had no idea of my visit even though I had spoke to the

directors. Also in the classrooms, teachers tended to bend their schedules around which then

caused some miscommunication between the related arts classes. Though the class sizes were

small and allowed for this flexibility, the staff were sometimes unprepared. This could potentially

be bad for larger classes and could cause children to become disorganized and distracted from a

daily routine. This was one of the very few, if any, negative qualities this school had. Overall the

administration worked well together. Teachers and administrators worked on a good

communication level when it came to the childrens activities. They easily worked through

problems and transitioned smoothly from school to after-school care.

Physical Environment

Alphabets, numbers, and pictures covered the walls of the classroom. Student artwork is

displayed around the room for parents and other students to see to showcase the childrens

individual work, and to show their progress. The environment also contained lots of things for

centers like building blocks, cars and roadways, magnets, dolls, books, coloring utensils, paper,

scissors etc. This allows for the kids to embrace their personal interests and follows John

Comeniuss theory that sensory experiences support and promote learning (Morrison, 2014,

p.73). The classroom is also designed with tables and chairs at a height most fitted for their size,

as well as a sink low enough for washing hands or other objects. The school does a very good job

of providing a safe learning environment that prepares children with the academic, social, and

behavioral skill necessary for kindergarten.

Health and Safety

To have a healthy and safe environment a school must provide supervision at all times to

ensure child safety (Morrison, 2014, p.116). Children from the ages zero to four require a lot of

maintenance and attention because they are so young. They struggle to understand the concepts

of germs and harmful bacteria as well as the fact that activities like climbing things they are not

supposed to climb can lead to accidents. At this age, children do not understand the

consequences of their actions as widely as an older child would. The school I observed always

had at least one teacher in the room, if not, there two or more teachers present. As another safety

measure, there are security cameras, and someone in the front office must open the door before a

guest can enter the building. This is a very important factor when parents are choosing schools.

Another health step the school takes is the mandatory need to emphasize the importance of hand

washing. Every time snack was passed out or lunch was being served, the children were required

to go to the bathroom and wash their hands. There are also multiple hand sanitizers available

around the room that children could easily access when necessary. The classroom also met an

important requirement, having a safe, clean, well-maintained room with a positive atmosphere

(Morrison, 2014, p.278).

Nutrition and Food

Every time I observed lunch time, children brought their own lunches, but the teacher did

help prepare them because obviously the children are to young to know how to heat their food,

pour soup, etc. Being this young, the teachers had lunch fairly early, and they had snack time in

the afternoon. This young age requires snack because their bodies do not function well when

they are hungry (Morrison, 2014, p.97). Research shows that children who are not consistently

hungry are more likely to preform well on standardized tests, have increased attendance,

decreased interruptions, and fewer trips to the nurse (Morrison, 2014, p.97). Parent supply snack

for the entire class, and the snacks usually are very healthy. One week a parent brought in

bananas, oranges, and wheat thin crackers. The teacher prepared snack in individual bowls,

cutting the bananas with a clean knife and gloves, and dividing crackers up with gloves on as

well. After snack or lunch, a child teacher assistant helped the teacher clean the tables and

make sure no food was left on the floor. These practices provide a clean and healthy environment

for the students.


Overall this school excels by meeting NAECY requirements and having ninety-seven

percent of its student placed into honors classes when they reached middle school. Not only did

the school excel academically, but they have very organized staff, and they meet appropriate

health and safety precautions. There were very few miscommunications between staff and

parents, a factor that is very important when it comes to choosing a school for your child.

Works Cited

Morrison, G. (2014). Fundamentals of Early Childhood Education (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River,

New Jersey: Pearson Education.