Introduction

This toolkit provides resources to early childhood educators and enables them to choose effective strategies to promote young children's overall development within the context of an early learning classroom while using their state's early learning guidelines. It categorizes the resources according to the domains outlined in the Head Start Child Developmental and Early Learning Framework (2010) — a comprehensive framework that identifies 11 areas of child development and learning. Early childhood educators can use the resources from the domains in this list that most closely relate to the areas of learning and development identified in their state's early learning guidelines.

Resources are divided into four categories:

  • Not Researched — Practices that have not been validated by research. They include resources where other early childhood professionals have posted practices they use in their own classrooms as well as practices without any evident research basis.
  • Research-Based — Programs/practices developed using "empirical findings derived from systematic analysis of information, guided by purposeful research questions and methods."
  • Evidence-Based — These are programs/practices "with demonstrated impact in randomized controlled trials."
  • Directories/Clearinghouses — These are interactive databases or stable documents where programs or strategies relating to the early childhood domains have been researched, evaluated, and categorized based on level of effectiveness.
1 From p. 10 of Tseng, V. (2012). The uses of research in policy and practice. Social Policy Report, 26(2), 1-16. Retrieved from http://www.wtgrantfoundation.org/news/foundation_news/the-uses-of-research-in-policy-and-practice-social-policy-report.
2 Tseng, 2012, p. 11
Physical Development and Health
Not Researched
  • Scholastic Teachers: Where Teachers Come First
    A website powered by Scholastic that provides resources, tools, strategies, ideas and activities to promote student learning pre-K through grade 12. Includes blogs, forums, scholastic publications, multimedia and products. Additionally, Early Childhood Today has Scholastic articles with activities in the curriculum areas of art, blocks, cooking, dramatic play, language and literacy, math, music and movement, outdoor play, sand and water play, and science.
    Copyright, registered and trademarked 2013

Research-Based
  • Head Start Body Start (HSBS): National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play
    The website has resources and ideas to help bring active play and meaningful movement to Head Start programs, early childhood programs or day care centers — both indoors and out. There are online professional development opportunities to help enhance play spaces or create an outdoor classroom. Families can find activities and tools to inspire creative, movement-based play and healthy food choices at home.
    Copyright 2013

Evidence-Based
Directories/Clearinghouses
  • Child Trends Lifecourse Interventions to Nurture Kids Successfully (LINKS) Database
    A continually updated database of programs that work and don’t work to enhance children’s development. In the area of early childhood education, it includes physical development and health, literacy knowledge and skills, language development, social and emotional development, and mathematics knowledge and skills.
    Copyright 2013

  • Child Care Health and Safety (PDF, 363KB)
    Child Care & Early Education Research Connections offers a list of resources (reports, papers, fact sheets, briefs, summaries and reviews) focused on child care health and safety, including research on strategies to promote health and safety.
    Published May 2010

Updated May 1, 2013
Social and Emotional Development
Not Researched
  • Scholastic Teachers: Where Teachers Come First
    A website powered by Scholastic that provides resources, tools, strategies, ideas and activities to promote student learning pre-K through grade 12. Includes blogs, forums, scholastic publications, multimedia and products. Additionally, Early Childhood Today has Scholastic articles with activities in the curriculum areas of art, blocks, cooking, dramatic play, language and literacy, math, music and movement, outdoor play, sand and water play, and science.
    Copyright, registered and trademarked 2013

Research-Based
  • Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI)
    TACSEI takes the research that show which practices improve the social-emotional outcomes for young children with or at risk for delays or disabilities, and creates products and resources to help decision-makers, caregivers and service providers apply these best practices. Most of these free products are available for immediate view, download and use.
    Copyright 2011

Evidence-Based
  • Head Start Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center (ECLKC): Social and Emotional Development
    The ECLKC Social and Emotional Development webpage offers strategies to help young children develop positive social relationships, self-concept and self-efficacy, and self-regulation, and to promote emotional and behavioral health. It also provides resources and references for evidence-based practice for the social and emotional development domain.
    Last updated April 29, 2013

  • Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL)
    CSEFEL is focused on promoting the social emotional development and school readiness of young children birth to age 5. It is a national resource center funded by the Office of Head Start and Child Care Bureau for disseminating research and evidence-based practices to early childhood programs across the country. The preschool training modules provide evidence-based strategies for promoting the social-emotional needs of young children.
    Modules updated May 2006

Directories/Clearinghouses
  • What Works Clearinghouse
    What Works Clearinghouse continually reviews research on different programs, products, practices and policies in education. Find What Works! searchable index offers evidence of intervention effectiveness for early childhood education in the areas of cognition, early reading/writing, mathematics achievement, oral language, phonological processing, print knowledge, functional abilities, social-emotional development and language competencies.
    Created 2002

  • Child Trends Lifecourse Interventions to Nurture Kids Successfully (LINKS) Database
    A continually updated database of programs that work and don’t work to enhance children’s development. In the area of early childhood education, it includes physical development and health, literacy knowledge and skills, language development, social and emotional development, and mathematics knowledge and skills.
    Copyright 2013

Updated May 1, 2013
Approaches to Learning
Evidence-Based
Updated May 1, 2013
Logic and Reasoning
Not Researched
Evidence-Based
Updated May 1, 2013
Language Development
Not Researched
  • Scholastic Teachers: Where Teachers Come First
    A website powered by Scholastic that provides resources, tools, strategies, ideas and activities to promote student learning pre-K through grade 12. Includes blogs, forums, scholastic publications, multimedia and products. Additionally, Early Childhood Today has Scholastic articles with activities in the curriculum areas of art, blocks, cooking, dramatic play, language and literacy, math, music and movement, outdoor play, sand and water play, and science.
    Copyright, registered and trademarked 2013

Research-Based
Evidence-Based
Directories/Clearinghouses
  • What Works for Early Language and Literacy Development
    This Child Trends fact sheet uses the results of 15 random assignment experimental evaluations to categorize literacy and language programs and intervention strategies into three categories: not proven to work, mixed finding, and found to work.
    Published June 2011

  • What Works Clearinghouse
    What Works Clearinghouse continually reviews research on different programs, products, practices and policies in education. Find What Works! searchable index offers evidence of intervention effectiveness for early childhood education in the areas of cognition, early reading/writing, mathematics achievement, oral language, phonological processing, print knowledge, functional abilities, social-emotional development and language competencies.
    Created 2002

  • Child Trends Lifecourse Interventions to Nurture Kids Successfully (LINKS) Database
    A continually updated database of programs that work and don’t work to enhance children’s development. In the area of early childhood education, it includes physical development and health, literacy knowledge and skills, language development, social and emotional development, and mathematics knowledge and skills.
    Copyright 2013

  • Precursors to Early Literacy Resource List (PDF, 179KB)
    Child Care & Early Education Research Connections offers a list of resources (reports, papers, executive summaries and reviews) focused on early literacy, including research on strategies to improve language and literacy skills during preschool.
    Published June 2007

Updated May 1, 2013
English Language Development
Not Researched
  • Scholastic Collection: Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners
    A series of articles and blog entries that focus on teaching English Language Learners from early childhood through high school.

  • Scholastic Teachers: Where Teachers Come First
    A website powered by Scholastic that provides resources, tools, strategies, ideas and activities to promote student learning pre-K through grade 12. Includes blogs, forums, scholastic publications, multimedia and products. Additionally, Early Childhood Today has Scholastic articles with activities in the curriculum areas of art, blocks, cooking, dramatic play, language and literacy, math, music and movement, outdoor play, sand and water play, and science.
    Copyright, registered and trademarked 2013

Research-Based
  • Research to Guide English Language Development Instruction
    This webinar provides an overview of the current research with the aim of identifying effective guidelines for English language development instruction. 
    Webinar hosted Nov 2, 2010

  • ¡Colorín Colorado!
    ¡Colorín Colorado! is a free, web-based service that provides information, activities and advice for educators and Spanish-speaking families of English language learners (ELLs). Information is provided in both English and Spanish. It is produced by Reading Rockets, an educational service of WETA. 
    Copyright 2011

Evidence-Based
  • Head Start Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center (ECLKC): English Language Development
    The ECLKC English Language Development webpage offers strategies to promote young children’s understanding of number concepts and quantities, receptive and expressive English language skills, and engagement in English literacy activities. It also provides resources and references for evidence-based practice for the English language development domain. 
    Last updated April 29, 2013

Directories/Clearinghouses
  • Young Dual Language Learners Resource List (PDF, 285KB)
    Child Care & Early Education Research Connections offers a list of resources (reports, papers, fact sheets, briefs, summaries and reviews) focused on child care and dual language learners (English language learners). 
    Published June 2009

Updated May 1, 2013
Literacy Knowledge and Skills
Not Researched
  • Literacy Center Education Network
    The Literacy Center Education Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to deliver free, professionally-designed education material to preschool-aged children. Through the Internet, they distribute education material directly to children in their homes, libraries and schools. 
    Copyright 1999-2013

  • Scholastic Teachers: Where Teachers Come First
    A website powered by Scholastic that provides resources, tools, strategies, ideas and activities to promote student learning pre-K through grade 12. Includes blogs, forums, scholastic publications, multimedia and products. Additionally, Early Childhood Today has Scholastic articles with activities in the curriculum areas of art, blocks, cooking, dramatic play, language and literacy, math, music and movement, outdoor play, sand and water play, and science.
    Copyright, registered and trademarked 2013

Research-Based
  • Reading Rockets
    Reading Rockets is a national multimedia project that offers research-based and best-practice information on teaching kids to read and helping those who struggle with reading. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs. The library at Reading Rockets provides teachers with effective, research-based strategies to help build and strengthen literacy skills in print awareness, phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension and writing. 
    Launched 2001; copyright 2013

  • Get Ready to Read!
    Get Ready to Read! is a service of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. It is designed to support educators, parents and young children in the development of early literacy skills in the years before kindergarten. Intended for use with all children, the resources and information provided promote skill-building, communication between adults, and ways to address concerns. They develop and deliver programs and promote research to improve instruction, assessment and support services for individuals with learning disabilities. 
    Copyright 1999-2011

Evidence-Based
  • Head Start Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center (ECLKC): Literacy Knowledge and Skills
    The ECLKC Literacy Knowledge and Skills webpage offers strategies to promote young children’s book appreciation, phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, print concepts and conventions, and early writing. It also provides resources and references for evidence-based practice for the literacy knowledge and skills domain. 
    Last updated April 29, 2013

  • Center for Early Literacy Learning (CELL)
    The goal of the Center for Early Literacy Learning (CELL) is to promote the adoption and sustained use of evidence-based early literacy learning practices. This site has resources for early childhood intervention practitioners, parents and other caregivers of children — birth to age 5 — with identified disabilities, developmental delays, and those at-risk for poor outcomes. CELL is a research-to-practice technical assistance center funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs, Research to Practice Division, and is a major initiative of the Center for Evidence-Based Practices at the Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute. 
    Copyright 2012-2013

  • All Children Can Read
    This website is built on a framework that incorporates stages of literacy development and key components of reading into instructional strategies for children with dual sensory challenges. Content is organized around evidence-based strategies identified as being effective in building emergent literacy skills and moving children along a continuum toward independent reading. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs. 
    Created 2006; last updated 2012 

  • Washington Learning Systems
    Washington Learning Systems provides research- and evidence-based programs and downloadable activity sheets to promote early literacy, language, cognitive and social development.
    Copyright 2010

Directories/Clearinghouses
  • What Works for Early Language and Literacy Development
    This Child Trends fact sheet uses the results of 15 random assignment experimental evaluations to categorize literacy and language programs and intervention strategies into three categories: not proven to work, mixed finding, and found to work.
    Published June 2011

  • What Works Clearinghouse
    What Works Clearinghouse continually reviews research on different programs, products, practices and policies in education. Find What Works! searchable index offers evidence of intervention effectiveness for early childhood education in the areas of cognition, early reading/writing, mathematics achievement, oral language, phonological processing, print knowledge, functional abilities, social-emotional development and language competencies.
    Created 2002

  • Child Trends Lifecourse Interventions to Nurture Kids Successfully (LINKS) Database
    A continually updated database of programs that work and don’t work to enhance children’s development. In the area of early childhood education, it includes physical development and health, literacy knowledge and skills, language development, social and emotional development, and mathematics knowledge and skills.
    Copyright 2013

  • Precursors to Early Literacy Resource List (PDF, 179KB)
    Child Care & Early Education Research Connections offers a list of resources (reports, papers, executive summaries and reviews) focused on early literacy, including research on strategies to improve language and literacy skills during preschool.
    Published June 2007

Updated May 1, 2013
Mathematics Knowledge and Skills
Not Researched
  • Scholastic Teachers: Where Teachers Come First
    A website powered by Scholastic that provides resources, tools, strategies, ideas and activities to promote student learning pre-K through grade 12. Includes blogs, forums, scholastic publications, multimedia and products. Additionally, Early Childhood Today has Scholastic articles with activities in the curriculum areas of art, blocks, cooking, dramatic play, language and literacy, math, music and movement, outdoor play, sand and water play, and science.
    Copyright, registered and trademarked 2013

Research-Based
Evidence-Based
Directories/Clearinghouses
  • What Works Clearinghouse
    What Works Clearinghouse continually reviews research on different programs, products, practices and policies in education. Find What Works! searchable index offers evidence of intervention effectiveness for early childhood education in the areas of cognition, early reading/writing, mathematics achievement, oral language, phonological processing, print knowledge, functional abilities, social-emotional development and language competencies. 
    Created 2002

  • Child Trends Lifecourse Interventions to Nurture Kids Successfully (LINKS) Database
    A continually updated database of programs that work and don’t work to enhance children’s development. In the area of early childhood education, it includes physical development and health, literacy knowledge and skills, language development, social and emotional development, and mathematics knowledge and skills.
    Copyright 2013

  • Early Mathematics Resource List (PDF, 453KB)
    Child Care & Early Education Research Connections offers a list of resources (reports, papers, executive summaries and reviews) focused on early mathematics, including a section on programs and instruction. 
    Published February 2010

Updated May 1, 2013
Science Knowledge and Skills
Not Researched
  • Science for Preschoolers
    A website that offers preschool science lesson plans and activities in the areas of biology, chemistry, earth science, the body and physics. 
    Copyright 2013

  • Scholastic Teachers: Where Teachers Come First
    A website powered by Scholastic that provides resources, tools, strategies, ideas and activities to promote student learning pre-K through grade 12. Includes blogs, forums, scholastic publications, multimedia and products. Additionally, Early Childhood Today has Scholastic articles with activities in the curriculum areas of art, blocks, cooking, dramatic play, language and literacy, math, music and movement, outdoor play, sand and water play, and science.
    Copyright, registered and trademarked 2013

Research-Based
  • National Center for Science in Early Childhood
    A California State University center whose mission is to make developmentally-appropriate science available to preschool children throughout the United States by serving as a national advocate on behalf of science for young children, their teachers and their families. They plan to gather and disseminate information about age- and developmentally-appropriate early childhood science approaches, curricula, activities and other resources. 
    Website currently under construction

  • Center for Early Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
    This project supports early childhood educators in creating hands-on, interactive classroom activities to develop and use scientific inquiry processes to explore and better understand their environments. Resources include cooking recipes, card games, math games, and various other games.

Evidence-Based
  • Head Start Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center (ECLKC): Science Knowledge and Skills
    The ECLKC Science Knowledge and Skills webpage offers strategies to promote young children’s learning of scientific skills and the scientific method and in the acquisition of conceptual knowledge of the natural and physical world. It also provides resources and references for evidence-based practice for the science knowledge and skills domain. 
    Last updated April 29, 2013

Updated May 1, 2013
Social Studies Knowledge and Skills
Research-Based
Evidence-Based
Updated May 1, 2013
Creative Arts Expression
Not Researched
  • National Arts Education Association (NAEA)
    NAEA is a community of practice where visual arts teachers, scholars, researchers and professors, students, administrators, art museum educators, and artists come together around a shared belief in the power of the arts in developing human potential. The Instructional Resources Gallery offers a variety of resources and lesson plans curated by NAEA members for pre-K to grade 12. Membership is required for access to all lesson plans.
    Copyright 2013

  • Scholastic Teachers: Where Teachers Come First
    A website powered by Scholastic that provides resources, tools, strategies, ideas and activities to promote student learning pre-K through grade 12. Includes blogs, forums, scholastic publications, multimedia and products. Additionally, Early Childhood Today has Scholastic articles with activities in the curriculum areas of art, blocks, cooking, dramatic play, language and literacy, math, music and movement, outdoor play, sand and water play, and science.
    Copyright, registered and trademarked 2013

Evidence-Based
Updated May 1, 2013
Early Childhood Organizations

It is important when reading research to understand what high-quality research is. Understanding Quality Research identifies key aspects to keep in mind when reading the literature, which include determining whether:

  1. The research was peer reviewed.

  2. The authors provide enough information to evaluate the study's quality.

  3. There are any potential threats to the study's validity, such as:

    1. Internal validity — are there alternative explanations for the results that are not explored by the study?

    2. External validity — can the findings be generalized to populations that differ from the study's sample?

    3. Construct validity — are the study's key concepts and constructs adequately defined and measured?

Early Childhood Research Organizations

These organizations are dedicated to early childhood research.

  • National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER)
    NIEER conducts and communicates research to support high-quality, effective early childhood education for all young children. The institute offers independent, research-based advice and technical assistance to policy makers, journalists, researchers and educators.

  • Child Care and Early Education RESEARCH CONNECTIONS
    RESEARCH CONNECTIONS promotes high quality research in child care and early education and the use of that research in policy making. The website offers research and data resources for researchers, policy makers, practitioners and others.

  • Child Trends
    Child Trends is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center that studies children at all stages of development. Child trends conducts high-quality research and identifies emerging issues relating to childhood, evaluates important programs and policies, and provides data-driven, evidence-based guidance on policy and practice.

Early Other Early Childhood Organizations

These national organizations are dedicated to promoting high quality early childhood education through research-based measures.

  • The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center
    The ECTA Center is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs. Its purpose is to serve infants, toddlers and preschoolers with disabilities, and improve service systems and outcomes for children and families. It has several publications relating to issues in early childhood education and a portal to early childhood research, news and resources.

  • National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
    Founded in 1926, NAEYC is the world's largest organization working on behalf of young children. It conducts conferences and meetings, accredits early childhood programs, and designs professional development resources and training programs. Publications include: two professional, peer-reviewed journals; one research-based magazine; a scholarly journal; books, standards, position statements and policy pieces.

  • National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning (NCQTL)
    Housed in the Office of Head Start of the Administration for Children and Families, NCQTL provides research- and evidence-based guidance, frameworks and resources to educators on effective practices in early childhood education, transitioning to kindergarten, and teacher development.

Updated May 1, 2013