Bulldog Beginnings is a center-based program for three to five year olds that is under the direction of state and local education agencies. Samantha Wehenkel and Casie Allen are the instructors of the Bulldog Beginnings program at Auburn Public Schools. The framework follows The Nebraska Early Learning Guidelines. These guidelines are based on research and evidence about child development and practices that result in the best outcomes for young children. The Guidelines provide information related to seven domains or areas of learning and development. These areas are:
Social and Emotional Development
Approaches to Learning
Health and Physical Development
Language and Literacy Development
The Guidelines indicate what children can typically be expected to know and do by the age of five; and what adults can do to provide experiences and environments that support learning across the developmental and learning domains. The above individual learning and developmental domains are considered to be equally important and should be integrated into all activities within the daily routine. Each domain can be addressed every day in the natural environment that surrounds the child, through the materials provided for the child’s exploration, and the supports that adults provide the child.
This framework guides decisions made at Bulldog Beginnings about planning developmentally appropriate activities for young children and the early childhood setting. The expectations provide a map from which adults can understand the developmental “path” that children will follow on their way to kindergarten. It is important to remember that not all children will attain all expectations by the age of five. The individual needs of each child must be met on a daily basis. Use of the Guidelines promotes continuity and consistency across all settings and provides a foundation for success in school and life.
At Bulldog Beginnings, we are creating an environment with interactions that have a direct impact on children’s learning and development. This is true throughout the child’s entire day including home environments, neighborhoods, and early childhood settings. Working together to provide the best possible learning opportunities in the hands of all the adults in the children’s lives. Secure relationships with parents, family members, teachers, caregivers, and other children help all children to feel emotionally safe and confident as learners and in their interactions with others.
The guiding principles which support children’s learning and development are:
Children are learning every moment
Children are active learners
Children develop in predictable steps, but at their own pace
Learning is most meaningful when it is integrated across all areas of development
Development and learning are rooted in culture and supported by the family