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Child Care and Early Education Glossary

The child care & early education glossary defines terms used to describe aspects of child care and early education practice and policy; the research glossary defines terms used in conducting social science and policy research, for example those describing methods, measurements, statistical procedures, and other aspects of research.

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)
Specialized instruction that is provided by trained early childhood Special Education professionals to young children with disabilities in various early childhood settings such as Preschool, child care, Prekindergarten and Head Start, among others. ECSE is mandated by the federal Part B of the IDEA.
Early Head Start
A federally funded program that serves low-income pregnant women and families with infants and toddlers to support optimal child development while helping parents/families move toward economic independence. EHS programs generally offer the following core services: (1) high Quality early education in and out of the home; (2) family support services, home visits and parent education; (3) comprehensive health and mental health services, including services for pregnant and postpartum women; (4) nutrition; (5) child care, and, (6) ongoing support for parents through case management and peer support. Programs have a broad range of flexibility in how they provide these services.
Early Intervention (EI)
Services that are designed to address the developmental needs of infants and toddlers with disabilities, ages birth to three years, and their families. Early intervention services are generally administered by qualified personnel and require the development of an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Early intervention is authorized by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part C.
Early Learning and Development Guidelines/Standards
A set of expectations, guidelines, or Developmental Milestones that describe what all children from birth until kindergarten entry should know and be able to do as well as their disposition toward learning. These standards/guidelines must be developmentally, linguistically, and culturally appropriate and cover all Developmental Domains.
Early Literacy
Refers to what children know about and are able to do as it relates to communication, language, reading, and writing before they can actually read and write. Children's experiences with conversation, books, print and stories (oral and written) all contribute to their early literacy skills.
Early Math/Numeracy
Refers to the foundations of mathematical reasoning that are acquired in early childhood, typically by way of number counting, measuring, sorting, noticing patterns and adding and subtracting numbers.
Educational Approach
Refers to the educational philosophy, method and/or pedagogical style adopted by early childhood providers. Examples of well-known and regarded educational approaches include Reggio-Emilia, Montessori and Head Start.
English Language Learner (ELL)
Refers to a child who is learning English and comes from a home or environment where the primary language is not English. ELLs are generally proficient in their own language but are usually unable to read, write, speak or understand English at a level comparable to their English proficient peers and native English speakers. See related: Dual Language Learners (DLL); Limited English Speaking/Limited English Proficiency (LEP); Bilingual.
Even Start
A family literacy program funded by the U.S. Department of Education that provided parents/families with instruction in a variety of literacy skills and assisted them in promoting their children's educational development.
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
A 2015 federal law that reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and replaced key requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The ESSA includes provisions to promote coordination in early learning among local communities; align preschool with early elementary school; and build the capacity of teachers, leaders and others serving young children to provide the highest-quality early learning opportunities. The ESSA also authorized Preschool Development Grants to support states’ efforts to increase the number of children accessing high-quality preschool.
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