Reconsidering Children’s Early Development and Learning: Toward Common Views and Vocabulary

In 1990, the National Education Goals were established by the President and the 50 state governors. Great attention has been given to Goal 1, dubbed the “readiness” goal: By the year 2000, all children in America will start school ready to learn. The Goal 1 Resource Technical Planning Groups were asked to suggest ways in which Goal 1 could be measured. The purpose of this document is to further amplify the dimensions of early learning and development used by the National Educational Goals Panel to measure progress toward Goal 1. The following five dimensions are discussed: (1) “Physical Well-Being and Motor Development”; (2) “Social and Emotional Development,” serving as the foundation for relationships which give meaning to school experience; (3) “Approaches toward Learning,” referring to the inclinations, dispositions, or styles that reflect ways children become involved with learning; (4) “Language Development”; and (5) “Cognition and General Knowledge.” For each of the dimensions, a rationale; general definition; the relationship to individual, cultural, and contextual variation; and a summary are given. The report concludes with a discussion of underlying issues, implications, and action steps.

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