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FAQs – Early Childhood Education

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  What are the vision and mission of the early childhood education office?

The Vision:

The Milwaukee Public Schools early childhood education office, along with the community, shares responsibility for the education of young children, acknowledging that early childhood development is the foundation that extends throughout the educational career of all children and contributes to their ongoing achievement.

The Mission:

The Milwaukee Public Schools early childhood education office promotes and provides high-quality, developmentally, linguistically, and culturally appropriate educational programming and services responsive to the needs of all children and families in the community.

  What support does the early childhood education office provide?

The early childhood education office is available to provide assistance and support. Classroom observations, newsletters, and professional development are provided by the the division's staff in general and specifically to the Head Start and Achievement Gap Reduction programs.

  What is developmentally appropriate practice (DAP)?

As the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) defines it, developmentally appropriate practice  (DAP) is a framework of principles and guidelines for best practice in the education of young children through age 8. It is grounded both in the research on how young children develop and learn and in what is known about education effectiveness. The principles and guidelines outline practice that promotes young children's optimal  learning and development.

In all aspects of work with young children, teachers must consider three areas of knowledge:

  1. Age appropriateness
  2. Individual appropriateness
  3. Cultural appropriateness

Developmentally appropriate teaching is

  • appropriate to children’s ages and developmental statuses,
  • challenging to children in ways that promote progress,
  • based on research from the fields of child development and teacher effectiveness,
  • meaningful in terms of the authenticity of context and the integration of a variety of developmental domains, and
  • essential and extends us to accurately understand family values, customs, aspirations, and feelings about the child’s culture.

For more information, visit the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction's early childhood developmentally appropriate practices web page.

  What are Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards (WMELS)?

The Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards are standards aligned to the Common Core State Standards that specify developmental expectations for children from birth through entrance to first grade. They are a general guide to help early-care and education professionals and parents observe a continuum of development, recognizing that children are unique and develop at individual rates. The standards reflect attention to all the domains of a child's learning and development. Each domain is divided into subdomains. Each subdomain includes developmental expectations, program standards, performance standards, and a developmental continuum. Samples of children's behavior and adult strategies are also provided (WMELS, 2008). 

The domains and subdomains of the WMELS follow:

Health and Physical Development

A. Physical health and development

B. Motor development

C. Sensory organization

Social and Emotional Development

A. Emotional development

B. Self-concept

C. Social competence

Language Development and Communication

A. Listening and understanding

B. Speaking and communicating

C. Early literacy

Approaches to Learning

A. Curiosity, engagement, and persistence

B. Creativity and imagination

C. Diversity in learning

Cognition and General Knowledge

A. Exploration, discovery, and problem solving

B. Mathematical thinking

C. Scientific thinking

Download this PDF for more information.

  What is the standards-based report card?

Standards describe what a student should know and be able to do at each grade level in all subjects. For several years, MPS has studied the use of a report card for elementary students that reports progress toward the standards. This new report card was piloted in several schools over the last two years. It was well received by parents, families, and teachers as a positive step in better communicating grade-level expectations for student learning.

  Why a standards-based report card?

First, it clarifies and reinforces consistent, high expectations for all MPS students and schools. Second, the report card helps teachers, students, and families to focus on the standards throughout the school year. Finally, and most importantly, the report card provides specific feedback on progress toward the standards so that students, families, and teachers can work together to set meaningful goals for improvement. Information about which big ideas and concepts each child has learned and what work is still needed for success in the next grade level helps to ensure that your child receives additional support — at home and school — when needed.

  What is the early childhood education office's Early Childhood Classroom Checklist?

The Early Childhood Classroom Checklist was developed to be used as an informal observation tool and is aligned to Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching domains. It covers planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction, and professional responsibility. It looks at adult/child interaction, adult/adult interaction, student engagement; Bloom’s Taxonomy; and differentiated instruction.

  What is the Curriculum Materials Development Center (CMDC)?

The purpose of the Curriculum Materials Development Center is to provide teachers with the opportunity to create materials and activities that address the Common Core State Standards and the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards to meet the needs of individual learners in the classroom and to enhance early childhood and early elementary school classrooms. It is also used throughout the year for professional development opportunities. The CMDC is located within North Division High School, located at 1011 West Center Street.

  What are the district guidelines for worksheets in preschool classrooms?

Young children learn best through age-appropriate, hands-on experiences and interactions with others. Worksheets and seatwork do not foster learning or active engagement in students' educational experiences. Research suggests that there are other, more developmentally appropriate ways for young learners to learn outside of the use of worksheets. Appropriate work for young learners includes materials and manipulation, verbal interaction with other students and teachers (including the support of vocabulary), opportunities for students to exercise choice and self-initiation, and opportunities to represent experiences through symbolic means (kid-writing/drawing, scribing of students’ language, class graph, photos/pictures, and graphic organizers).

Other practices that should be evident within classrooms include the following teaching strategies: active learning experiences, varied instructional strategies, balance between teacher-directed and child-directed activities, an integrated curriculum, and learning centers. All  learning activities in MPS pre-K and K5 classrooms should be developed according to the above criteria.*

Effective means of measuring student learning objectives include work samples, portfolios, observational records, checklists, and appropriate paper-and-pencil activities.

*Worksheets that are part of the reading and math curricula adopted by the district are the only exception to these guidelines. They should be used in moderation.

  What is a worksheet?

A worksheet is a stand-alone activity that focuses a majority of children’s attention and efforts on “basic skills” devoid of higher-order thinking. These are examples of worksheet tasks: copying, practicing handwriting, cutting, pasting, coloring pre-drawn images, and following directions. Worksheets are generally used to teach a single or limited set of academic skills through rote practice. Worksheets are typically simple, low-level, nonproductive busy work.

  What are the district guidelines for rest or quiet time in early childhood classrooms?

The early childhood education office is providing these guidelines for the implementation of rest or quiet time in pre-K through K5 classrooms. Rest or quiet time may include relaxation, quiet reading with adequate lighting, or other appropriately quiet activities. While periodically a child may come to school needing some additional sleep, this situation should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Allowing children to generally sleep or nap is not part of this recommendation.

Three-Year-Old Classrooms

  • Half-day programs: No quiet time
  • Full-day programs: A maximum of one hour a day

Four-Year-Old Classrooms

  • Half-day programs: No quiet time
  • Full-day programs: A maximum of 45 minutes a day in the fall; a maximum of 30 minutes a day in the spring

Five-Year-Old Classrooms

  • Full-day programs: Up to 30 minutes a day in the fall
  • To be phased out in spring to prepare for first grade
  What are the 12 Principles of Child Development and Learning that inform practice?
  1. All areas of development and learning are important.
  2. Learning and development follow sequences.
  3. Development and learning proceed at varying rates.
  4. Development and learning result from an interaction of maturation and experience.
  5. Early experiences have profound effects on development and learning.
  6. Development proceeds toward greater complexity, self-regulation, and symbolic or representational capacities.
  7. Children develop best when they have secure relationships.
  8. Development and learning occur in and are influenced by multiple social and cultural contexts.
  9. Children learn in a variety of ways.
  10. Play is an important vehicle for developing self-regulation and promoting language, cognition, and social competence.
  11. Development and learning advance when children are challenged.
  12. Children’s experiences shape their motivation and approaches to learning.



Early Learning Manager:

Krissy Washington
Phone: 414-475-8094
Fax: 414-475-8737

Early Childhood Supervisor/
Achievement Gap Reduction:

Allison Foyer
Phone: 414-475-8673
Fax: 414-475-8737

Head Start Program Supervisor:

Meredith Welch, MSW, APSW
Phone: 414-252-0350
Fax: 414-252-0365

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