The Science of Children Birth to Age 8: Deepening and Broadening the Foundation for Success

Type: Consensus Study
Topics: Children and Families, Education, Health Care Workforce
Board: Board on Children, Youth, and Families

Activity Description

An ad hoc committee will conduct a study and prepare a consensus report on how the science of children’s health, learning and development from birth through age 8 can be employed to inform how we prepare a workforce to seamlessly support children’s health, development, learning, and school success from birth through age 8, including standards and expectations, instructional practices, preparation and professional development, and family engagement across diverse contexts (e.g., rural/urban) and populations (e.g., special education, immigrant, dual language learners, sub-threshold children). The committee will address the following questions: 

        1) What do we know about the influence of neurobiology, health, and development (e.g., emotion   
        regulation, executive functioning, psychosocial) on learning trajectories and educational achievement for 
        children from birth through age 8, including typical and atypical pathways? 

        2) What generalized and specialized knowledge, skills, and abilities do adults, working with children 
        across the birth through age 8 continuum and across infant, toddler, preschool-aged, and k-3 
        settings (for example, home visitors, child care workers, early childhood educators, health professionals, 
        center directors, elementary school teachers, principals) need to seamlessly support children’s health, 
        learning, development, and school success? 

        3) What staff development structure and qualifications are necessary for educators at each level (e.g., 
        entry level, full professional, etc.) to support children’s learning across the continuum of development 
        from birth through age 8? This should be linked to #2. 

        4) How can the science from 1. & 2. be employed to re-envision preparation and professional 
        development programs across infant, toddler, preschool-aged, and k-3 settings, including how to 
        assess children and use data to inform teaching and learning from birth through age 8? 

        5) How can the science on children’s health, development, learning, and educational achievement, and 
        the skills adults need to support them, inform policy decisions conducive to implementing the 

Based on currently available evidence, the report could include findings, conclusions, and recommendations on the above, paying particular attention to research on: 1) poverty, racial inequities and disadvantage; 2) learning environments in the home and in schools; 3) adult learning processes as they relate to teaching children; and 4) leadership/management skills as they relate to developing the skills of a highly effective workforce designed to support children’s learning, growth, and development from birth through age 8.

The report will provide research and policy recommendations to specific agencies and organizations (governmental and non-governmental) as well as inform institutions serving children birth through age 8. Recommendations will be geared toward: federal funding agencies including the Administration for Children and Families, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resource and Services Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the US Department of Education, with a particular emphasis on Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (Title II), which focuses on improving teacher and principal quality; legislatures (Congress, state legislatures); higher education institutions; state and local education agencies; state early childhood care and education agencies; family child care programs; regulation agencies; and practitioners that provide health, education, and care services to children birth through age eight.

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