Aligning Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS-R) with Farm to Preschool (F2P)
The North Carolina Farm to Preschool Network (NCFPN) was convened in May 2015 by ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) and NC CACFP (Child and Adult Care Food Program). This group of stakeholders are committed to supporting and promoting farm to preschool programming across the state of North Carolina. NCFPN developed a definition for farm to preschool: Farm to preschool enhances the health and education of young children by developing systems and experiential learning that connects children and their families with local food and farms. Farm to preschool includes any type of childcare that incorporates local foods through: meals and snacks, taste tests, lessons, farmer visits, cooking, growing food, and/or community and parent involvement.
Reach for the Stars with Farm to Preschool, was created by NCFPN. Its purpose is to help child care centers and family child care homes integrate farm to preschool activities into their curriculum while addressing the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS). This resource will benefit early childhood programs in North Carolina and across the country.
Reach for the Stars with Farm to Preschool is organized by four farm to preschool activities:
1. edible gardening with young children,
2. farm field trips/farmer visits with young children,
3. local food classroom cooking/taste tests with young children, and
4. local food served in meals and/or snacks.
In each of these activity components, the ECERS subscale, items, and indicators were aligned with suggested farm to preschool activities, providing ideas and prompts for early childhood educators. In addition to enriching the educational experience, this resource clearly demonstrates how star ratings can be achieved through farm to preschool programming. The indicator is not spelled out, only referenced by the number, and in the place of the indicator language is the suggested farm to preschool activity.