National Academies Press: OpenBook

Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation (2015)

Chapter: Part II: The Science of Child Development and Early Learning

« Previous: 2 The Care and Education Landscape for Children from Birth Through Age 8
Suggested Citation:"Part II: The Science of Child Development and Early Learning." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2015. Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/19401.
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Part II

The Science of Child Development and Early Learning

The committee was tasked with applying what is known about child development and early learning to inform how the workforce can more seamlessly support children from birth through age 8. This part of the report summarizes key findings and the committee’s conclusions based on the science of early child development and learning, focusing in particular on those areas with implications for the workforce.

Chapter 3 describes interactions between the biology of development, particularly brain development, and the environmental influences experienced by a child. Chapter 4 examines child development and early learning in the areas of cognitive development, learning of specific subjects, general learning competencies, socioemotional development, and physical development and health—and the interrelationships among them. Chapter 4 also addresses the critical overarching issue of the effects of chronic stress and adversity on child development and early learning.

Throughout these chapters, the implications of the findings for adults with responsibilities for young children are highlighted. The messages in these chapters thus form a foundation that, together with the context described in Chapter 2 of the settings and institutional systems in which adult professionals work with children, informs the subsequent discussion in Part III of the knowledge, skills, and abilities that adults working with children across the birth through age 8 continuum need and that need to be supported by the systems in which they are educated, trained, and work. This in turn informs the discussion of the development of the early care and education workforce in Part IV.

Suggested Citation:"Part II: The Science of Child Development and Early Learning." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2015. Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/19401.
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Suggested Citation:"Part II: The Science of Child Development and Early Learning." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2015. Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
Page 55
Suggested Citation:"Part II: The Science of Child Development and Early Learning." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2015. Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/19401.
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Page 56
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Children are already learning at birth, and they develop and learn at a rapid pace in their early years. This provides a critical foundation for lifelong progress, and the adults who provide for the care and the education of young children bear a great responsibility for their health, development, and learning. Despite the fact that they share the same objective - to nurture young children and secure their future success - the various practitioners who contribute to the care and the education of children from birth through age 8 are not acknowledged as a workforce unified by the common knowledge and competencies needed to do their jobs well.

Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8 explores the science of child development, particularly looking at implications for the professionals who work with children. This report examines the current capacities and practices of the workforce, the settings in which they work, the policies and infrastructure that set qualifications and provide professional learning, and the government agencies and other funders who support and oversee these systems. This book then makes recommendations to improve the quality of professional practice and the practice environment for care and education professionals. These detailed recommendations create a blueprint for action that builds on a unifying foundation of child development and early learning, shared knowledge and competencies for care and education professionals, and principles for effective professional learning.

Young children thrive and learn best when they have secure, positive relationships with adults who are knowledgeable about how to support their development and learning and are responsive to their individual progress. Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8 offers guidance on system changes to improve the quality of professional practice, specific actions to improve professional learning systems and workforce development, and research to continue to build the knowledge base in ways that will directly advance and inform future actions. The recommendations of this book provide an opportunity to improve the quality of the care and the education that children receive, and ultimately improve outcomes for children.

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