Curriculum happens all day, in every routine, behavior, interaction, and preparation of the environment. The curriculum may emerge from children’s interests, questions and explorations and/or be negotiated from the teacher’s observations. Staff are intentional with the use of space, time and materials. Teachers pay close attention to children’s interests, patterns and recurring themes, developmental needs and strengths, as well as their questions. Their curriculum planning is guided by these observations.
Our teachers negotiate curriculum with a focus on creating opportunities for children to expand their thinking, encounter new perceptions and consider different perspectives. Teachers document the life of the classroom, collecting “traces” of children’s thinking by taking photos, creating videotapes, taking anecdotal notes about children’s play and their conversation. Documentation boards and portfolios make the daily life of the classroom visible to the children and families.
We adhere to a variety of strategies based on scientific research that allows for optimal learning for children. When brain compatible strategies are used to deliver information, memory and alertness are increased and children are able to learn without losing the joy of learning (Schiller, P., 1999, Start Smart: Building Brain Power in the Early Years).
Nurture curiosity. One of our most useful strategies to invite children into learning is to urge them to question, explore, experiment, and compare. We encourage imaginative approaches and thinking outside the box to problem-solve and to develop critical thinking skills that leads to higher level processing.
Present information in ways that consider children’s ways of learning by using multiple senses. The more senses that deliver information to the brain, the more likely the brain will attend to that specific information. Thus, we strive to teach children using visual models, music, manipulatives, and concrete examples.
Build on prior knowledge. When past learning is used as a springboard or a bridge to new information, a child has a better start on processing new information. Adults are able to “scaffold” or adjust their communication and support to stimulate cognitive growth (Vygotsky and Early Childhood, berk and Winsler, 1995).
Keep learning active. We adhere to the “children learn on their feet approach”, a hands-on learning approach vs. rote memorization or passive learning.
Interact with intention. The teacher-child relationship cannot be underestimated and so our role of building a trusting relationship is the best foundation of our curriculum.
Curriculum is every experience children encounter in the learning environment and with this premise our staff engages in “Intentional Teaching.” Intentional teaching includes thinking about all aspects of the learning environment from the arrangement of the room, presentation of materials, adapting routines of the day, and thoughtful responses to the many questions and comments that occur spontaneously throughout the day. Intentional teaching utilizes knowledge about what constitutes “best practice” in the early childhood program with focus on the developmental domains: emotional, social, physical, cognitive, and linguistic.
Routines and Schedules
The flow of the day will reflect our goals and mission as we strive to provide:
- An inviting environment with materials and arrangements that invite learning
- Long, uninterrupted work time
- Opportunities to get messy and have a variety of media to represent their thoughts and feelings
- Practice with adult support to practice conflict resolution with peers that promote playing together
- Adults serving as co-learners, co-investigators, facilitating learning by preparation of the environment, moving in the rooms with respect and quiet gentleness, listening and supporting children.