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Considerations for Developing Early Childhood Curriculum
Many schools start their mapping journey with their K-12 academic program. Ideally, they carefully choose their template, ensure their courses are aligned to standards or concepts, and create long term work goals so teachers have the time, support, and resources to create and systematically improve curriculum maps. During this process, schools may ask “What about the 3 and 4 year-old classrooms? Should they be documenting their curriculum too?”
In light of the high educational value in these years prior to Kindergarten, take the time to discuss these five questions below as part of your process in deciding if and how to document early years curriculum. Any school that includes a 3 and 4 year-old program should consider how these younger classes fit into the overall learning progression and larger school curriculum.
We accept that learning is a process and in the spirit of the influential psychologists Piaget and Vygotsky, we agree that play and exploration are critical elements throughout early childhood development. Our task as teachers is to create engaging environments and experiences where children are encouraged to authentically explore these learning goals through their domains of development. Conversations around these questions below will help guide the process and build an evolving written curriculum resource that is beneficial to teachers and students.
Learning goals within domains in child development describe the milestones and skills we are introducing to young children.
There are different strategies in approaching this topic of early childhood curriculum writing:
- Schools can choose to outline a unit ahead of time and make decisions about learning goals or standards that children should be exposed to within a certain unit of study or grading period.
- Schools can use their units of study to record and plan in real time as the unit unfolds and they make adjustments and move in different directions based on children's interests or other factors within and outside the classroom.
- Schools also document their early learning curriculum after the unit has finished and they use their map to record the learning that happened.
Depending on your perspective, schools might choose different strategies. One strategy can inform the other and they are not mutually exclusive. These strategies are valid, useful, and widely used in many early childhood programs. For the purpose of this conversation, we are approaching curriculum writing from the perspective that units of study are loosely pre-planned, with the option of adjusting them, and learning goals are broken into units within a pacing calendar or scope and sequence.