Jackson MS- The Mississippi Department of Human Services has awarded the Mississippi State University Extension Service $5 million to develop a new curriculum for children from birth through age 5. Leaders anticipate the new curriculum will directly impact early childhood education in the state by renewing the early-childhood partnership between Mississippi State and Mississippi Department of Human Services Division of Early Childhood Care and Development that existed for many years.
The funding will be used to develop “My Mississippi Adventures,” a developmentally appropriate, integrated curriculum that will be made available at no cost to all licensed and registered childcare facilities. The curriculum will focus on people, places, and things relevant to Mississippi. This curriculum is being developed as part of the quality improvement assistance which MDHS offers to child care providers.
Through the curriculum development project, early childhood development experts hope to provide researched-based early childhood development curriculum and instruction tools to childcare providers in all 82 Mississippi counties.
Mississippi State University faculty-led by Drs. Julie Parker and Lori Staton will develop curriculum and supporting materials that align with the Mississippi State Department of Education’s Early Childhood Learning Standards. The curriculum will offer a professional development component for early childcare and education professionals in the state. The project’s focus will be on preparing students for early success in K -12 schools in Mississippi, using a curriculum that will also offer a professional development component for early childcare.
Michael Newman, director of the MSU School of Human Sciences, said faculty members in human development and family science have a history of providing Extension programming aimed at improving conditions for children and families in Mississippi through early childhood programs.
“This project has the opportunity to impact both future teachers still in our college classrooms and existing teachers already working in the field as childcare providers,” Newman said.
An estimated 42% of Mississippi children through age 5 are cared for in one of 1,473 licensed childcare facilities across the state. Curricula preparing the children for kindergarten are expensive, so many are not able to participate in structured educational activities.
“Setting the foundation for learning in early education lays the groundwork for continued educational success at the K-12 level,” stated Dr. Chad Allgood, Co-Director of Early Childcare and Development at the Mississippi Department of Human Services. “We continue to make improvements to early childcare by providing an umbrella network that touches on curriculum development, training, technical assistance, along with helping children with special needs, family, friend, and neighbor care, and a focus on leadership development.”
The Mississippi Department of Human Services and The Mississippi State University Extension are looking forward to the future and laying the foundation for educational success throughout the state.
Lori Staton, an associate professor of human development and family science, said the curriculum under development will be offered free of charge to licensed child care providers.
“Social and emotional development are the most basic elements children at this age need,” Staton said. “If they get this early, they will do better academically. This curriculum is being designed to provide that developmental foundation, so children are ready to be successful in school.”
Julie Parker, an associate professor of human development and family science who holds an Extension appointment, said the curriculum will provide a full year of education and will be theme- and project-based.
“The professional development component and the curriculum will be in tandem, and we will offer strategies for the teachers to use to better work with their children,” Parker said.