The Defense Department is in the preschool business, with a curriculum called Early Learning Matters.
There are an estimated 1.7 million children of active duty members currently in the United States. These children are three times more likely to move or have their education otherwise disrupted than their civilian cohorts, meaning their education has unique challenges. Children of military parents are at a higher risk of dropping out before high school graduation, and have lower college graduation rates than the average.
The Defense Department has been trying various things to address this problem for decades, and their current effort is the Early Learning Matters early childhood education curriculum, for children of preschool age.
“By using a standard curriculum, Early Learning Matters gives military families a consistent and effective early childhood education program – no matter where they’re stationed or how many times they move,” said Stacey Young, director of Military Family Readiness Policy in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy.
No matter how often, or how far. The same curriculum is being established both in domestic armed forces facilities and overseas.
“The Defense Department is committed to providing the highest level of care for our military children. The Early Learning Matters curriculum allows us to provide children with an environment that promotes development and school readiness beginning at the earliest ages,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy Patricia Montes Barron. “The design allows child development program personnel to customize the learning experience to each child based on their individual developmental needs.”
The curriculum, which has been tested at several military child development centers over the past two years, involves staff-guided, child-directed play and experiential learning, based on successful curriculums at various private early childhood centers around the country.