"After completing the academy, I look at our preschool and kindergarten classrooms with a different lens. I understand more about brain development and am much more aware of social emotional learning and other factors beyond academics. Now when I visit a classroom, I can give much more specific and helpful feedback. What used to look like chaos now looks like active, engaged learning! "
- Participant of 2016-17 Early Learning Leadership Academy
On Sept. 29, principals and early learning leaders from across Silicon Valley will attend the Early Learning Leadership Academy – a three-part training series presented by the Center for Early Learning at Silicon Valley Community Foundation and other partners.
The Leadership Academy is designed to support the essential role of school leaders in creating high-quality classroom experiences that build strong linkages and smooth transitions from for children from preschool through 3rd grade. The program will deliver practical, relevant information and tools to principals and early educators that can be immediately put into practice. These include:
- Identifying the characteristics of high-quality preschool and early grade classrooms
- Ensuring developmentally-appropriate teaching
- Incorporating technology into the preschool and early grade classrooms
- Understanding the role of student assessments
- Working effectively with families and community partners
- Supporting and building teacher and administrator professional capacity
The program is open to all principals, early learning leaders and central office administrators in the Bay Area. Registration is open until Friday, Sept. 22.
Special thanks to our academy co-presenter Franklin-McKinley School District and sponsor First 5 San Mateo County!
Why it’s important to connect elementary school leaders to preschool programs
Historically, preschool has been disconnected from the elementary school system, making collaboration and alignment of practices difficult. Funding streams, learning standards, teacher preparation pathways and accountability systems all differ. However, early learning leaders, principals and school administrators are becoming increasing aware of the tremendous impact when these two systems bridge together.
The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) has found “that successful principals who ensure that these systems work together can help create learning environments where young children come to school ready to learn, read on grade level by grade three and achieve in later grades.”
Principals may recognize the importance of embracing a PreK-3 learning continuum but they often feel ill-equipped to support early learning classrooms. As one principal recently noted, “I’m afraid to go into kindergarten classrooms. It just looks like chaos to me.”
To the untrained eye, the instructional practices appropriate for young learners, and the emphasis on developing self-regulation and social skills, can often make a classroom appear chaotic and unruly. But with a little guidance on how very young minds learn and grow, as well as insights into the intentional teaching that happens through active play and exploration, school leaders can learn to identify and encourage high-quality early learning environments.
High-quality early learning is crucial for students’ success
Every day across Silicon Valley, our youngest students are busy exploring the world around them, making connections, discovering new ideas and building the foundation for their future success in school and beyond. A child’s earliest educational experiences from age 3 (preschool) through to age 8 (the typical age for entering 3rd grade) have a significant impact on cognitive development, social and emotional skills and engagement in learning.
SVCF’s Center for Early Learning is working with Silicon Valley school districts to ensure those educational experiences in preschool through 3rd grade (PreK-3) are connected, cohesive and build sequentially to benefit children. The approach is based on the beliefs that:
- Learning starts prenatally, not when children enter Kindergarten
- Supporting children to be prepared when they start school is essential to helping them get on the right track
- Developing appropriate skills, knowledge and dispositions is fundamental to children’s future success and
- Getting children on grade level by the time they leave third grade, particularly in reading and math, is essential to ensuring that they graduate from high school ready for college, careers and life. (NAESP, Leading Pre-K-3 Learning Communities, 2014)
The Center for Early Learning is housed within Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Our mission is conduct research, convene community leaders and advocate for change to ensure that young children have access to high-quality early learning opportunities and healthy development. Learn more about the Center for Early Learning's work!