Early Childhood Preparation Policy
The state should require its teacher preparation programs to provide early childhood teachers with age-appropriate content knowledge and instructional strategies. Starting in 2020, this goal is now graded.
New Hampshire offers an early childhood education license to teach birth-grade 3. Candidates are required to pass the Praxis Education of Young Children (5024) test and the New Hampshire Foundations of Reading test as a condition of initial
Emergent Literacy and Oral Language: The Praxis Education of Young Children (5024) test addresses emergent literacy and oral language. The test requires candidates to know "the progression of oral language development, including but not limited to expectations for listening comprehension and verbal communication, and how to facilitate and expand children's oral language and vocabulary development. Candidates are also required to "know strategies to address language delays." The test addresses emergent literacy by requiring candidates to be able to develop children's phonological awareness, concepts of print, fluency to support reading comprehension, phonics skills, and how to expand children's use of vocabulary.
The Foundations of Reading test also requires candidates to demonstrate an understanding of the main components of emergent literacy, including concepts of print, phonemic and phonological awareness, vocabulary development, and reading comprehension. The test references oral language in the context of phonemic and phonological awareness, vocabulary development, and reading comprehension.
Emergent Mathematics and Science: The Praxis Education of Young Children (5024) test addresses emergent mathematics by requiring candidates to know how to develop children's:
New Hampshire Administrative Rules Ed 507.18, 513.01, 612.03 Test Requirements http://www.nh.nesinc.com/ www.ets.org/praxis Administrative Rules for Education 513.01, 612.04
Ensure that all preschool teachers possess the skills to create a positive and productive classroom environment.
Because well-run classrooms help children develop self-regulation and build academic skills, it is imperative that candidates are adequately prepared to create a positive and productive classroom environment. Skills such as: classroom management, developing a child's executive functions, and creating activities where children can learn through play are critically important to ensuring that all preschool teachers are able to establish an environment that actively supports learning. New Hampshire should ensure that all preschool teachers possess adequate understanding of these skills.
New Hampshire indicated that its Praxis Education of Young Children (5024) Test includes a portion of content knowledge in the areas of language and literacy and mathematics.
The state also noted that the Education of Young Children test is intended for prospective teachers of young children (birth to age 8), and was designed to align with the NAEYC Standards for Early Childhood Professional Preparation (2009) and the Common Core State Standards. It is based on a teaching approach that emphasizes the active involvement of young children in a variety of play and child-centered activities that provide opportunities for choices, decision making, and discovery. The test is designed to assess the examinee's knowledge about pedagogy and content, the relationship of theory to practice, and how theory can be applied in the educational setting. Also included are multicultural influences; diversity; variations in development, including atypical development; and how these factors affect children's development and learning.
Each of the three constructed-response questions focus on one of the following areas: Developmentally Appropriate Practices; Professionalism, Family, and Community; Observation, Documentation, and Assessment; or Content Pedagogy and Knowledge.
New Hampshire added that approved undergraduate teacher preparation programs are required to accept only teacher candidates who have passed a basic academic skills test (the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators). Although the state sets the minimum score for this test, it is normed only to the prospective teacher population. Candidates can also qualify for admission by scoring at or above the 50th percentile on a comparable assessment such as, but not limited to, the SAT, ACT, MTEL, or GRE.
Finally, the state provided links to the certification standards for its early childhood education teachers.
A strong preschool experience can set children up for achievement gains in elementary school, and even more critically, for improved long-term outcomes including college attendance and degree completion. However, not all preschool programs have achieved these positive results. To increase the likelihood that children will reap benefits from attending preschool, states should ensure that the preschool teachers have certain essential skills and knowledge.
To lay children's foundation for learning to read—and to open the door to other areas of learning—teachers must understand how to develop children's oral language skills and build children's emergent literacy. Especially for young children who are already behind, preschool teachers can play a critical role in language development. Emergent literacy encompasses a range of skills that are essential to reading, but may not come naturally to all children. These skills include phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, learning the alphabet, and concepts of print. Teacher training in these areas can translate into substantial gains for children in alphabet knowledge, vocabulary, and language skills. The early introduction of language and literacy can make a lasting difference for children. Unsurprisingly, children with low language and literacy skills in preschool demonstrate lower reading skills in kindergarten. However, not all approaches to teaching emergent literacy are equally effective, and the quality of preschool curricula varies, making it that much more important that preschool teachers have ample training in how to develop their preschoolers' emergent literacy skills.
Preschool teachers need similar grounding in teaching emergent math and science concepts. Research finds that introducing children to more complex mathematical concepts from an early age may increase their math ability in later years. In fact, some research suggests that the relationship between children's early math skills and future math achievement is twice as strong as the relationship between emergent literacy and future reading achievement. Little research exists on what teachers need to know about preschool science instruction, but experts agree that this area is important.
Beyond knowing what to teach, preschool teachers need to understand the children they are teaching. As such, knowledge of child development from birth to age eight is important. Similarly, preschool teachers need to know effective classroom management strategies that can build social-emotional skills and prevent or resolve many behavioral problems. Of course, classroom management is about more than discipline: it is about establishing an environment that actively supports learning, including understanding how to develop children's executive functioning skills and manage children's play for learning purposes. Teachers' emotional support for their students is associated with better social competence and lower rates of behavior problems.