Are you inter­est­ed in cre­at­ing a cur­ricu­lum for ear­ly child­hood edu­ca­tion but don’t know where to start? Keep reading!

What is an early childhood curriculum?

A cur­ricu­lum is a plan for help­ing chil­dren learn. Your cur­ricu­lum is your entire program—everything that is part of the children’s day. Chil­dren are learn­ing all of the time—during their every wak­ing moment.

What is an emergent curriculum?

An emer­gent cur­ricu­lum is planned around children’s gen­uine inter­ests as they are revealed dur­ing self-direct­ed play.

In an emer­gent cur­ricu­lum, you allow the children’s inter­ests to guide and alter the direc­tion of planned activ­i­ties. In the process, the chil­dren will learn vocab­u­lary and con­cepts that they wouldn’t learn if you fol­lowed a rigid­ly struc­tured curriculum.

You fol­low the chil­dren’s lead, pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties and mate­ri­als for the chil­dren to design their activ­i­ties, and devel­op activ­i­ties based on their inter­ests. Use the chil­dren’s ideas and ques­tions to guide your plans. As a result, chil­dren will be empow­ered know­ing that their inter­ests are respect­ed. Their involve­ment in deci­sions about the cur­ricu­lum will encour­age their cre­ativ­i­ty and help ensure their invest­ment in their learning.

Creating an early childhood education curriculum

As you begin to con­struct your cur­ricu­lum, con­sid­er the var­i­ous ele­ments. Your cur­ricu­lum includes

  •  the envi­ron­ment, which includes the space chil­dren occu­py, the atmos­phere cre­at­ed by that space, the arrange­ment of fur­ni­ture and equip­ment in that space, and the pic­tures and bul­letin boards on the walls;
  •  the sched­ule of children’s days;
  •  children’s per­son­al care routines;
  •  the mate­ri­als and equip­ment pro­vid­ed for children’s use; 
  •  the activ­i­ties in which chil­dren participate.

A cur­ricu­lum that is appro­pri­ate for children’s devel­op­ment will pro­vide plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ties for them to

  • prac­tice and per­fect skills they have already developed,
  • expand these skills,
  • devel­op new skills.

Activ­i­ties that are appro­pri­ate for chil­dren reflect their inter­ests and are child-direct­ed, allow­ing each child as much choice as pos­si­ble. Thus, chil­dren should feel wel­come to use mate­ri­als in their own ways. Pro­vide open-end­ed mate­ri­als—mate­ri­als that can be used in many dif­fer­ent ways—to pro­mote exper­i­men­ta­tion and creativity.

Addi­tion­al­ly, pro­vide objects and oppor­tu­ni­ties for prob­lem-solv­ing that are appro­pri­ate to each child’s devel­op­men­tal lev­el. Every child should be free to suc­ceed (or not) inde­pen­dent­ly with­out adult interference.

Remem­ber that children’s learn­ing occurs all day, not just dur­ing spe­cial “teach­ing” times. Talk with each child often dur­ing the day. Inter­act with each child in ways appro­pri­ate to that child’s lev­el of devel­op­ment and learn each child’s inter­est. These inter­ac­tions will inform the curriculum!

Learn more!

Inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about cur­ricu­lum in ear­ly child­hood? Check out our cours­es Great Days with Kids: Cur­ricu­lum and Les­son Plan­ning and Days with Tod­dlers: Cur­ricu­lum Plan­ning for Ages 12–36 Months.

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Please let us know how we can be of addi­tion­al assis­tance! Call us: 1–800-685‑7610, Mon­day through Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings and week­ends: We’re here to help!

One response to “Curriculum for Early Childhood Education”

  1. Learn­ing is a jour­ney that nev­er tru­ly ends, and your post has remind­ed me of the bound­less oppor­tu­ni­ties that await us through prop­er course training.

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