Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 2: Program Activities for Healthy Development

2.1 Program of Developmental Activities

2.1.1 General Program Activities Written Daily Activity Program and Statement of Principles

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 5/30/2018

Facilities should have a written comprehensive and coordinated planned program of daily activities appropriate for groups of children at each stage of early childhood. This plan should be based on a statement of principles for the facility and each child’s individual development.The objective of the program of daily activities should be to foster incremental developmental progress in a healthy and safe environment, and the program should be flexible to capture the interests and individual abilities of the children.

Infants and toddlers learn through healthy and ongoing relationships with primary caregivers/teachers, and a relationship-based plan should be shared with parents/guardians that includes opportunities for parents/guardians to be an integral partner and member of this relationship system.

Centers and all family child care homes should develop a written statement of principles that set out the basic elements from which the daily indoor/outdoor program is to be built.

These principles should address the following elements:

  1. Overall child health and safety
  2. Physical development, which facilitates small and large motor skills
  3. Family partnership, which acknowledges the essential role of the family, and reflects their culture and language
  4. Social development, which leads to cooperative play with other children and the ability to make relationships with other children, including those  of diverse backgrounds and ability levels and adults 
  5. Emotional development, which facilitates self-awareness and self-confidence
  6. Cognitive development, which includes an understanding of the world and environment in which children live and leads to understanding science, math, and literacy concepts, as well as increasing the use and understanding of language to express feelings and ideas


All the principles should be developed with play being the foundation of the planned curriculum. Material such as blocks, clay, paints, books, puzzles, and/or other manipulatives should be available indoors and outdoors to children to further the planned curriculum.


The program plan should provide for the incorporation of specific health education topics on a daily basis throughout the year. Topics of health education should include health promotion and disease prevention topics (e.g., handwashing, oral health, nutrition, physical activity, healthy sleep habits) (1-3).

Health and safety behaviors should be modeled by staff to foster healthy habits for children during their time in child care.

Staff should ensure that children and parents/guardians understand the need for a safe indoor and outdoor learning/play environment and feel comfortable when playing indoors and outdoors.

Continuity and consistency by a caring staff are vital so that children and parents/guardians know what to expect.


Children attending early care and education programs with well-developed curricula are more likely to achieve appropriate levels of development (4).

Early childhood specialists agree on the

  1. Inseparability and interdependence of cognitive, physical, emotional, communication, and social development. Social-emotional capacities do not develop or function separately.
  2. Influence of the child’s health and safety on cognitive, physical, emotional, communication, and social development.
  3. Central importance of continuity and consistent relationships with affectionate care that is the formation of strong, nurturing relationships between caregivers/teachers and children.
  4. Relevance of the development phase or stage of the child.
  5. Importance of action (including play) as a mode of learning and to express self (5).

Those who provide early care and education must be able to articulate the components of the curriculum they are implementing and the related values/principles on which the curriculum is based. In centers and large family child care homes, because more than 2 caregivers/teachers are involved in operating the facility, a written statement of principles helps achieve consensus about the basic elements from which all staff will plan the daily program (4).

A written description of the planned program of daily activities allows staff and parents/guardians to have a common understanding and gives them the ability to compare the program’s actual performance to the stated intent. Early care and education is a “delivery of service” involving a contractual relationship between the caregiver/teacher and the consumer. A written plan helps to define the service and contributes to specific and responsible operations that are conducive to sound child development and safety practices and to positive consumer relations (4).

Professional development is often required to enable staff to develop proficiency in the development and implementation of a curriculum that they use to carry out daily activities appropriately (1).

Planning ensures that some thought goes into indoor and outdoor programming for children. The plan is a tool for monitoring and accountability. Also, a written plan is a tool for staff and parent/guardian orientation.


The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation criteria and procedures, the National Association for Family Child Care accreditation standards, and the National Child Care Association standards can serve as resources for planning program activities.

Parents/guardians and staff can experience mutual learning in an open, supportive early care and education setting. Suggestions for topics and methods of presentation are widely available. For example, the publication catalogs of the NAEYC and the American Academy of Pediatrics contain many materials for child, parent/guardian, and staff education on child development and physical and mental health development, covering topics such as the importance of attachment and temperament. A certified health education specialist, a child care health consultant, or an early childhood mental health consultant can also be a source of assistance.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Health, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Safety Awareness Coordinated Child Care Health Program Model Diversity in Enrollment and Curriculum Personal Caregiver/Teacher Relationships for Infants and Toddlers Interactions with Infants and Toddlers Space and Activity to Support Learning of Infants and Toddlers Separation of Infants and Toddlers from Older Children Toilet Learning/Training Personal Caregiver/Teacher Relationships for Three- to Five-Year-Olds Opportunities for Learning for Three- to Five-Year-Olds Selection of Equipment for Three- to Five-Year-Olds Expressive Activities for Three- to Five-Year-Olds Fostering Cooperation of Three- to Five-Year-Olds Fostering Language Development of Three- to Five-Year-Olds Body Mastery for Three- to Five-Year-Olds Supervised School-Age Activities Space for School-Age Activity Developing Relationships for School-Age Children Planning Activities for School-Age Children Community Outreach for School-Age Children Communication Between Child Care and School Health and Safety Education Topics for Children Staff Modeling of Healthy and Safe Behavior and Health and Safety Education Activities Gender and Body Awareness Health and Safety Education Topics for Staff Opportunities for Communication and Modeling of Health and Safety Education for Parents/Guardians Parent/Guardian Education Plan
  1. Rosenthal MS, Crowley AA, Curry L. Family child care providers’ self-perceived role in obesity prevention: working with children, parents, and external influences. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2013;45(6):595–601

  2. Bonuck KA, Schwartz B, Schechter C. Sleep health literacy in Head Start families and staff: exploratory study of knowledge, motivation, and competencies to promote healthy sleep. Sleep Health. 2016;2(1):19–24
  3. Policy on oral health in child care centers. Pediatr Dent. 2016;38(6):34–36

  4. Modigliani K. Quality Standards for NAFCC Accreditation. 4th ed. The National Foundation for Family Child Care Foundation, Family Child Care Project - Wheelock College. Salt Lake City, UT: The National Association for Family Child Care Foundation; 2013
  5. Pinkham AM, Kaefer T, Neuman SB, eds. Knowledge Development in Early Childhood: Sources of Learning and Classroom Implications. New York, NY: The Guilford Press; 2012

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 5/30/2018