A Message from the
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
I am delighted to present the California Preschool Learning Foundations (Volume 2). This publication is the second of a three-volume series designed to improve early learning and development for California’s preschool children.
Young children are naturally eager to learn. However, not all of them enter kindergarten ready for school. All too often, children are already lagging behind their classmates, and this circumstance can impede their continued learning and development long past kindergarten. High-quality preschool teaching contributes to children’s long-range social and academic success, as well as their ability to express themselves creatively through the arts, their capacity to engage in physically challenging activities, and their development of lifelong health habits.
Children who attend high-quality preschools benefit from rich opportunities to learn through play. They also benefit from curriculum that integrates all the developmental domains in a way that is developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate.
Intentionally engaging children in play supports the learning and development that is described in the preschool learning foundations. In a recent report, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) calls for early educators to make play a regular part of the daily curriculum and be responsive to the needs of each student.
In addition, a recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics concludes that play is vitally important for healthy brain development. These reports, as well as many others, make clear that preschool children’s play and integrated learning are vital components of high-quality preschool programs.
With the goal of ensuring that all preschools in California offer high-quality programs, the California Department of Education collaborated with leading early childhood educators, researchers, advocates, and parents to develop Volume 2 of the preschool learning foundations.
The foundations outline key knowledge and skills that most children can achieve when provided with the kinds of interactions, instruction, and environments shown by research to promote early learning and development. Volume 2 focuses on three domains: visual and performing arts, physical development, and health. These domains often receive less attention than some of the other domains, but they are equally important for preschool children’s overall learning and development.
As research that is summarized in this volume indicates, physical exercise and healthy routines and nutritional choices set the stage for lifelong healthy habits.
The recent NAEYC report under-scores the need for children to play outside, use their large muscles, and engage in vigorous physical activities every day. Of course, the visual and performing arts fuel both preschool children’s imaginative play and creativity and also promote learning in all domains, including physical skill development, cognitive development, and social-emotional development.
I believe that these foundations will help guide and support all California preschools in providing developmentally appropriate instruction and activities that engage young minds, hearts, and bodies. Such learning will lead to children’s well-being and success throughout life.