Maryland EXCELS Toolkit  

Philosophy Statement & Daily Schedule

What you believe about children and families shapes much of what you do every day. How you structure your environment, the materials you provide, and the way you welcome children and families all communicate a set of beliefs you have about children, families, and the important work you do every day.

A philosophy statement is a way to communicate your beliefs in writing. It explains why you do what you do and why what you do is important for children and families.

series of images featuring images of various ethnic background
Welcome All Children

This section helps you meet the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Environment: DAP 1.5. It guides you through reviewing, revising, or creating a philosophy statement that describes your beliefs about a developmentally appropriate environment that welcomes all children.

When you are ready to submit your philosophy statement, you will also submit your daily schedule. Your daily schedule is one way you show your philosophy statement in action.

Select the Requirements tab to learn about key information to include in your philosophy statement.

Requirements

Let's look at the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Environment: DAP 1.5. The following interactive shows you key requirements that are marked by a bright dot. Select each dot to learn more about what to include in your documents.

Select the option that applies to your program type:

 

Child Care Center

Family Child Care

School-Age Only

 

Instructions

To meet the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Environment: DAP 1.5, your philosophy statement should clearly describe how your program:

NOTE: You will also upload your program’s daily schedule when you submit your philosophy statement. Your daily schedule is part of Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Implementation: DAP 6.5. Your daily schedule is one way you show your philosophy statement in action.

The Policy or Statement Builder provides a step-by-step guide for creating your statement.






Developmentally Appropriate Environment

In a developmentally appropriate environment, all children feel welcomed and respected. The environment offers comfortable places for children to play, work, and relax. Materials are accessible and represent the children’s development, ages, interests, home cultures and languages. Interactions with adults and other children are supportive and positive.

 

What does the documentation look like?

Your philosophy statement should describe a developmentally appropriate environment for the children enrolled in your program. If your program serves infants and toddlers, it should look and sound different from a program for preschoolers or school-age children. Like children, no two programs are exactly the same, but all quality programs strive to meet the individual needs of children. Your statement should explain how you customize your environment and routines to meet the children’s needs.

 

How can you tell if you're on the right track?

Your philosophy statement includes a description of:

  • the children enrolled in your program (ages, backgrounds, interests, skills / development)
  • how you structure your environment to meet the children’s needs
 

Where can you learn more?

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has many helpful resources on developmentally appropriate practice. Choose the age range of the children enrolled in your program for more information.

Infants and Toddlers

DAP with Infants and Toddlers | National Association for the Education of Young Children | NAEYC

© National Association for the Education of Young Children - Promoting excellence in early childhood education 1313 L St. NW, Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20005 | (202)232-8777 | (800)424-2460 | webmaster@naeyc.org

Preschoolers

DAP with Preschoolers | National Association for the Education of Young Children | NAEYC

© National Association for the Education of Young Children - Promoting excellence in early childhood education 1313 L St. NW, Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20005 | (202)232-8777 | (800)424-2460 | webmaster@naeyc.org

Kindergartners

DAP with Kindergartners | National Association for the Education of Young Children | NAEYC

Kindergarten teachers must fully engage in the social world of the classroom and be intentional in their interactions and instruction. With the many differences among-and wide age range of-kindergartners, teachers should be responsive to developmental, individual, and cultural variation. Thoughtful, sensitive teaching promotes a joy of learning and prepares children for further academic challenges.

Early school-age

DAP in the Early Primary Grades | National Association for the Education of Young Children | NAEYC

Best practices in first, second, and third grades involve balancing children's need for focused instruction with their need to build on what they already know. Primary grade children benefit from concrete hands-on experiences. They need to see and make connections, especially across subjects.

California Afterschool Network provides information and resources to programs serving school-age children and students. This resource includes five learning principles for school-age programs.

Learning in Afterschool

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Welcomes Children of All Abilities

Quality programs create learning environments and experiences that support the unique growth and development of every child. This begins with identifying each child’s different needs, interests, and abilities. Realizing that all children share a common need for a safe and supportive environment makes it easier to welcome all children into your program, including children with special health care needs or disabilities.

 

What does the documentation look like?

Your philosophy statement describes your beliefs about including all children in your program, including children with special health care needs or disabilities.

 

How can you tell if you're on the right track?

Think about the different skills, needs, interests, backgrounds, and experiences children might have. Read your philosophy statement to see if it shows that you strive to meet the needs of all children. For example, if you were a parent whose child had special health care needs or a disability, would your statement sound welcoming?

Try reading the statement as if you were a family whose child did not yet speak English. Would this family feel that their child’s needs could be met?

Ask yourself: Does my program’s philosophy statement sound respectful, supportive, and welcoming of all children and families?

 

Where can you learn more?

Welcoming children with special needs into your program may seem especially challenging. These articles give you helpful tips and information to boost your confidence as you open your doors to all children in need of quality care.

Child Care for Children with Special Needs

Child Care for Children with Special Needs - eXtension

Child care providers often work with children who have identified special needs. Working with children who have special needs can be very rewarding if you understand the child and his special need and make appropriate accommodations to support his learning and development.

Adapting the Child Care Environment for Children with Special Needs

Adapting the Child Care Environment for Children with Special Needs - eXtension

Many child care providers work with children who have disabilities or special needs. Remember that children with special needs are children first, and have more similarities than differences from children without disabilities. Every child has a unique personality and special skills. Keep your primary focus on each child's strengths and abilities as you work to make modifications and adjustments.






Child initiated and Teacher directed Activities

Children benefit from a range of activities – some they select and control and others where adults take the lead. Child initiated activities allow children to explore, create, and express themselves independently. Teacher directed activities guide children’s learning, particularly when trying something new.

 

What does the documentation look like?

Your philosophy statement describes how you balance child initiated activities with adult directed activities throughout your day.

 

How can you tell if you're on the right track?

Your philosophy statement explains how and why you structure the day’s schedules and activities to meet the children’s needs.

 

Where can you learn more?

Learning centers are one way to provide opportunities for children to initiate their own learning. This article provides information on how to set up different learning centers in a child care environment.

Using Learning Centers in Child Care

Using Learning Centers in Child Care - eXtension

Learning centers are a purposeful way of dividing up your classroom into different subject/learning areas. The location of each learning center, placement of any furnishings or equipment, and easily available materials give a clear message to the child about what is to take place in that area.






Reflecting Children’s Interests, Primary Languages, and Cultural Backgrounds

Quality programs understand and believe in the power of respecting children’s interests, home languages, and cultural backgrounds. These programs recognize that children and families feel welcome and included in environments that display and communicate information in multiple languages or through images that represent the children’s backgrounds. Simple actions have significant impact on children’s social and emotional well-being.

 

What does the documentation look like?

Your philosophy statement communicates beliefs about the importance of reflecting the children’s interests, primary languages, and cultural backgrounds throughout your program. Think about why that is important and how your environment and activities reflect the children and families you serve.

 

How can you tell if you're on the right track?

When you read your philosophy statement you can identify specific sentences that describe your program’s beliefs about how you include children’s interests, primary language and cultural background in activities for children and families. This information can be included in another section of your program’s handbook, written agreement, or contract that is formally shared with families.

 

Where can you learn more?

This article from Head Start provides specific examples of ways to include children’s primary languages and cultural backgrounds in an early childhood program.

Linguistically and Culturally Relevant Early Childhood Environments

Culture and Language | ECLKC

Across early childhood systems and programs, managers and staff must be prepared to enhance experiences for the growing number of young children who are learning their home languages and English. Administrators, teachers, caregivers, and families can use these resources to help ensure culturally and linguistically appropriate services for all children birth to 5.






Policy or Statement Builder

This interactive helps you create a philosophy statement. After typing responses to a set of prompts, you have the option of emailing your responses to yourself and editing your final statement before uploading it to the Maryland EXCELS System. You are encouraged to type your responses in full sentences to make it easier to edit your final statement.

 

Build-A-Statement: Philosophy Statement

Final Touches

Check your documents to be sure you included:

 
  • How your environment is developmentally appropriate for the children enrolled
  • How your program welcomes children of all abilities
  • How your program balances child initiated and teacher directed activities throughout the day
  • How your program plans and delivers activities that reflect the children’s interests, primary languages, and cultural backgrounds
 
 

Save your document:

  • Use a file name that you can find easily when you upload it to the system. (examples: philosophy.docx)
  • Use any one of these formats:
    • Typed electronic version of your philosophy statement and daily schedule (examples: Microsoft Word, PDF)
    • Scanned versions of your philosophy statement and daily schedule (examples: PDF, PNG, JPG)
    • Digital image of your philosophy statement and daily schedule (examples: JPG, PNG, PDF)

Next Steps

Use the following guide to upload your documents, look ahead, and think about a plan for ongoing improvement.

 

Step 1: Prepare to Upload Your Documents

  • Locate your username and password for logging into your Maryland EXCELS account
  • Locate where you saved your written document on the computer
 

Step 2: Look Ahead and Plan for Improvement

Look Ahead

Congratulations! You are ready to submit your program’s philosophy statement and daily schedule to meet the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Environment: DAP 1.5.

Plan for Improvement

Remember to revisit your philosophy statement and daily schedule periodically to ensure that your program reflects its beliefs. Upload any updates or changes you make to the Maryland EXCELS System.

 

Step 3: Upload Your Documentation (DAP 1.5)

Log in to the Maryland EXCELS System to upload your philosophy statement.

screenshot of Maryland EXCELS upload screen with a comment box
Upload Documentation