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!
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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