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By Crystal Williams, Ed.M.

The Division for Early Childhood of the Council of Exceptional Children, the leading professional organization in EI/ECSE, spearheaded efforts to develop the EI/ECSE standards.  It is important for all early childhood professionals to be familiar with these standards to provide the support needed for individual children with disabilities and their families. In this blog series, we discuss each standard, prompt questions for reflection, and provide tips and resources that professionals can use to ensure their practices align with the EI/ECSE standards.

Standard 5:  Applying Curricula Frameworks when Planning Meaningful Learning Experiences

Components Reflective Questions
5.1 Identify evidence-based curriculum to design and facilitate meaningful learning experiences that support the unique abilities and needs of all children and families
  • What curricula do you use in your practice? How do you choose a curriculum?
  • With what other curricula are you familiar? What are their strengths and limitations?
  • How can you, or your program, ensure you are using an evidence-based curriculum?
  • How do you adapt curricula ideas or experiences to meet the unique needs of children and families?
5.2 Use knowledge of curriculum, developmental and academic knowledge, and related pedagogy to plan equitable, developmentally appropriate, and challenging learning experiences in natural and inclusive environments
  • What does it mean to plan equitable, developmentally appropriate, and challenging learning experiences for children? What are some examples from your practice?
  • How can you support caregivers’ abilities to provide developmentally appropriate and challenging learning experiences for children?


Resources to enhance your knowledge related to Standard 5:

  • Joint Position Statement on Early Childhood Inclusion
    The Division for Early Childhood and the National Association for the Education of Young Children developed a joint statement on inclusion which focuses on access, participation, and supports for all children, including those with and without disabilities.

Tips for improving your practice related to Standard 5:

  • When developing and choosing a curriculum, consider the full range of abilities and diversity represented in your setting to ensure each child can access and participate in the curriculum. Considering these factors early on can limit the number of modifications needed later which may draw unwanted attention to individual children.
  • Present information to children using multiple formats (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) to address unique learner needs.
  • Plan group activities that meaningfully include children with disabilities, rather than trying to fit them into activities planned for typically developing children.

Tips for adjusting a curriculum for children with intensive support needs:

Children with more intensive needs may require specific modifications and adaptations to the curriculum. When providing these supports, professionals may consider using the following strategies.

  • Integrate a child’s goals across the curriculum, across contexts (e.g., routines and activities), and with various adults. The more opportunities children have to practice a skill, the quicker they are likely to progress.
  • Develop and use planning matrices to help various adults support the child’s goals in everyday routines.
  • Incorporate opportunities for children to learn using multiple senses.
  • Encourage peer to peer support by having children work in groups and using peer-mediated interventions.
  • Break activities down into smaller steps or provide children with more time to complete activities.
  • Familiarize yourself with Assistive Technology resources and consider options that would benefit the children with whom you work.
  • Pay attention to children’s nonverbal cues to understand their emotions (e.g., tried, frustrated) and respond to their needs (e.g., positioning, sensory).