Reading some standards for early childhood science teaching

A young child feels leaves in a tray of water.The non-profit Minnesota coalition SciMathMN, published A Guide for Parents: “What Should I Look for in the Science Program in My Child’s School?”

Some of the items apply only to Minnesota but others are useful to families everywhere who want children to get a good science education. The last section, “What can I do to support good science education?” lists eight ways to be involved:

  • Learn about and investigate the natural world with your child. You don’t have to know all the answers.
  • Instill in your child the belief that he/she can succeed in science and that hard work pays off.
  • Encourage your child to read about science and scientists and provide opportunities for them to explore science in your community.
  • Learn to recognize a standards-based K-12 science program.
  • Talk with your child’s teacher about their needs, concerns, and expectations for students in science.
  • Volunteer to help in the classroom during science activities and learn with your child.
  • Advocate for the resources necessary for a standards-based K-12 science program.
  • Learn about the Minnesota K–12 Science Framework and the Minnesota Graduation Standards in science and how they are used in the school’s science program.

Child rolling balls of playdough and counting them.Reading about standards and guidelines for science teaching in early childhood gives me a framework from the research and practice of others. While not holding up any set of standards as “The Best,” I can compare them to my state’s guidelines, those in books, and my own experience. Here are just a few that I’ve looked at:

New Jersey State Department of Education’s Preschool Teaching & Learning Expectations: Standards of Quality (2009) pages 44-50, has Preschool Teaching Practices and Preschool Learning Outcomes for five science standards.

 The Oklahoma Early Learning Guidelines For Children (October 2010) has four science standards, Pages 51-58.

The state of Massachusetts Department of Education lists 26 learning guidelines for Guiding Preschool Learning in Science and Technology/Engineering (Pgs 19-25) in the 2003 publication Guidelines for Preschool Learning Experiences.

What standards and guidelines do you find most helpful?

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