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Early Years

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At its annual conference in Washington this month, the group released "Reaching the Full Cost of Quality in Early-Childhood Programs," a guide to spur community action and support. It offers a detailed economic analysis of market forces stifling high-quality child care and of the consequences for children, families, and providers. It also offers criteria for quality and guidelines for compensation.

The wage issue surfaced frequently at the conference, where participants described and debated efforts to organize, enlist support from parents, and unionize child-care workers.

The Child Care Employee Project also released "From the Floor: Raising Child-Care Salaries," which details reactions and actions taken by caregivers following a national study last year linking low pay, high turnover, and inadequate training to poor program quality.

The n.a.e.y.c. launched its "full cost of quality" campaign at a Capitol Hill presentation, featuring several members of the Congress, that also served as a celebration of passage of new child-care and Head Start bills.

The group is exploring how it can offer training and assist states in making best use of the aid.

In another move to promote "developmentally appropriate" programs, the n.a.e.y.c. governing board has approved a statement on curriculum content and assessment for 3- to 8-year-olds.

The group's accreditation program and previous statements promote play-oriented, hands-on learning that taps children's "internal motivation" and meets their developmental needs.

The new statement, issued jointly with a national group representing early-childhood specialists in state education departments, notes "an emerging consensus" that rigid academic programs and formal tests are ill-suited to young children.

But it notes that change has been slow, and aims to prod reforms by laying out detailed goals and guidelines on what to teach and how to gauge learning. The guidelines, now being revised, will be published in a book with chapters providing examples.

"Beyond Self-Esteem: Developing a Genuine Sense of Human Value," a research monograph on bolstering children's self-esteem, and "Teaching Preschoolers: It Looks Like This ... in Pictures," a photographic essay illustrating appropriate practices, were also issued at the meeting. Contact the n.a.e.y.c. at 1834 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009, for information.--dc

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