Early Childhood

The AFT Innovation Fund is investing in two initiatives in early childhood, both aimed at creating high-quality learning opportunities for our members who teach young children. By increasing teachers’ understanding of the critical importance of oral language development, for example, we can help make sure young children are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten.

AFT St. Louis (MO), 2011

Summary: AFT St. Louis, in collaboration with the St. Louis Public Schools, is creating a high-quality, research-based professional development program for early childhood and pre-K teachers and paraprofessionals. This represents the first time these educators will have their own program, tailored to their unique needs. The modules will be piloted and improved based on constant feedback. The goal is to use the curricula in other districts around the nation to help strengthen the early childhood workforce.

Intended Outcomes:

  1. To design, with commitment and support from SLPS, a professional development program for early childhood and pre-K teachers and paraprofessionals.
  2. To pilot and improve the professional development program so it may be implemented in other school districts around the country.

United Federation of Teachers (NY), 2010

Summary: UFT’s Teacher Center has created a curriculum for family child care providers that is based on the PBS TV show “Between the Lions.” Coaches trained by the union help the providers learn how to use the materials to build the strong foundation that young children need to make a successful transition into prekindergarten and kindergarten. The grant also has paid for books and materials for these providers, who became UFT members in 2007. The goal is to embed this program in the contract for these union members as a way to scale it up across the city.

Intended Outcomes:

  1. To design a new curriculum that better prepares young children for pre-K and kindergarten.
  2. To create a Coaching Academy for the literacy coaches who will be training and overseeing the home day care providers.
  3. To create a Professional Development Institute for the home day care providers.
  4. To sustain the program by scaling it up for these providers across the city.