Teaching Early Childhood: Preschool Curriculum

Introduction

This paper presents a weeklong plan that demonstrates my ability to develop a curriculum for a preschool program targeting children between 3 and 4 years. The program designed is half day and is inspired by principles in the National Association for the Education of Young Children (2009) position paper and my personal philosophy or understanding of the learning process. As an individual, I believe in teacher-learner centred approaches to learning.

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Considering the principles provided by NAEYC, the learning environment for children has to be as interactive as possible. Play and stories are centre stage in the learning of preschool children. Equally important are visuals and demonstrative aids that help the children to remember and relate with what they are learning. These papers provide an integrative curriculum that takes care of children with different learning challenges and children with disability.

Moreover, in appreciation of the fact that children learn at different rates, a weeklong activity plan is provided that provide a wide range of activities. The activities are simple but exciting enough to help children gain interest in what they learn. They are also varied to accommodate the needs of various children.

Sample Curriculum Plan for the Week

Preschool education is foundational and is a positive ground that provide for children’s later knowledge acquisition capabilities. Therefore, as early as possible, children have to gradually get exposure to concepts and activities that build their knowledge base. This curriculum provides the key areas that have to be looked into to ensure that children enjoy learning and learn relevancies that help them in the education journey.

Objectives

The aim of education is to help one grow into a resourceful adult. From a tender age, children have to be enabled in all learning domains, with the understanding that knowledge and skills are cumulative and that learning in one domain influences learning in other domains. Therefore, the goal of education is to facilitate cognitive, emotional, physical and mental development of the children.

Learning Process

Through an interactive way, anchored on teachers building a personal relationship with each child, the learning process has to be fun, enjoyable and enlightening for the children. Towards this end, teachers will engage students in a number of activities daily that help students develop given skills or memorize what they have learnt. Repetition is key in children’s learning; therefore, teachers will develop routines that allow for repetition of given activities to enhance mastery. However, given children learn at different levels, variety of activities during lessons and in play have to be offered that providing newness as well as continuity.

Values and Outcomes

Values are centre stage in the education process. The values taught or reinforced provide the children with an identity but also a sense of direction in life. For kids at the age of 3 and 4, they are explorative and inquisitive. Therefore, teachers will work towards encouraging creativity through the different activities. Creativity often implies children having to try out different things. Teachers have to encourage the children so they build their self-esteem and self-confidence. Other values to be instilled through the learning activities include hard work, cooperation, and independence in thought, interdependence and co-existence.

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Learning Areas

The following are the learning areas that the pre-school program will focus on

No. Learning Area Specific Skills Key Activities
1 Language skills
  • Reading skills
  • Letter recognition
  • Listening skills
  • Writing skills
  • Names and concept development
  • Listening stories
  • Letter shapes
  • Names
  • Handwriting drills
  • Singing sessions
2 Art
  • Painting skills
  • Drawing skills
  • Dancing skills
  • Music
  • Painting exercises
  • Dance to rhythm sessions
  • Singing sessions
4 Social skill
  • Relation skills
  • Friendship building
  • Sharing
5 Math
  • Number recognition and application
  • number recognition activities
  • calendar skills
6 Science
  • General knowledge about world around us
  • Using senses
  • Nature walks
  • Mixing colours
  • Senses related activities
  • Stories on animals and other living things
  • singing

Sample Integrated Activity Plan (Integrating Language and Science)

Learning Outcomes

  • Children learn new concepts through singing songs
  • Children learn how to pronounce words
  • Children learn more about their bodies through song
  • Children to connect words with real world through song performance

Teacher Preparation

  • Identify simple songs about natural phenomenon
  • Distribute roles in the song performance based on individual child characteristics
  • Find an audio sample of the same where possible
  • Find visual aids to facilitate learning

Activity Outline

Day 1: Learning The Words In The Song

  • Identify key words in the song
  • Through repetition, the children learn the letters and how to pronounce the word
  • Exploring the meanings of the words
  • Relating the words with actual things in the surroundings or on own body

DAY 2: Learning the Rhythm to the Words

  • Introduce the children to a beat to the song
  • Give the children roles to play
  • Use of visuals to help children internalize the rhythm

DAY 3: Learning The Dance Moves

  • Children practice the song
  • Introduction of moves and action to accompany the song

DAY 4: Performance and Perfecting

  • Rehearsals and continued perfection of the songs and dance moves
  • Changing of roles so different children get a chance to perform in given roles
  • Infusion of children’s creativity where possible

DAY 5: Performance Assessment and Recognition

  • Parents come to watch their children perform
  • Parents applaud and show support for children
  • Teacher to recognize and award children for good performance and individual contribution

Discussion

This curriculum was developed based on the idea that children have special needs that have to be addressed in a special way. Additionally, children have different interests and capacities. This calls for a multivariate approach with integrative activities aimed at helping all children. The curriculum identifies goals and objectives of the program. The program has to provide foundational knowledge and skills for the children’s cognitive, emotional, and physical development.

Early childhood education, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (2009, p. 4), has to connect with the rest of the education system. This implies that preschool curricula have to prepare children for later days in the education system. For instance, in language literacy, unless pupils understand the basics, they get many problems when they get into grade 3 and grade four (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2009, p.7).

Towards this end, the sample curricula aims at providing the children with basics that would ensure they understand higher things. The curriculum I have developed aims at meeting the different learner needs so that they may enjoy classes and understand the basics. The position statement thus advocates for increased interaction with children anchored on real time creativity on the part of the teachers.

In line with my teacher-student approach to learning, the curriculum is anchored on demonstrations and interactive learning processes. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (2009, p. 7)’s position statement acknowledges the fact that teachers are knowledgeable. However, it argues that teachers do not have monopoly over knowledge. Therefore, while making decisions, there is need to allow for student participation. By the children participating actively in the learning processes, they understand the lessons better. Moreover, they will feel involved and enjoy the classes.

In the curriculum I have developed, there are different activities to help children learn a given skill or issues. Curriculum is informed by understanding of children’s development stage, age characteristics and related knowledge on what works best for children (Echevarria & Vogt, 2000). Secondly, education has to be informed by what is known about each child as an individual (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2009, p. 9). Thirdly, the cultural or social backgrounds of the children should inform how the children are handled (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2009, p. 10).

What is learnt in one domain influences the understanding and appreciation of what is learnt in other domains. Therefore, in the plan I developed, I tried as much to include activities and teaching aids that integrate and enable learning in all domains. Language literacy is critical as it determines knowledge acquisition (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2009, p. 7). It is for this reason, that the sample curriculum provided focuses on vocabulary development and word concepts.

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The curriculum provides for a progressive approach to lesson plans. As shown in the example activity plan, activities have to follow each other sequentially. As it is acknowledged in the position statement, knowledge builds on knowledge and a skill learnt provides a positive condition for the learning of other skills. Therefore, the week plan provided is also progressive with each activity or lesson leading into another. The teacher rides on past lessons to introduce the children to new concepts and developments.

The position statement also recognizes that children learn at different rates. Moreover, that early childhood experiences impact or influence how one grows and develops. Apart from the childhood experiences, the social setting and the relationships within the learning environment have a direct impact on how a child learns (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2009, p. 13).

To this end, the curriculum developed proposes more than one activity to help children enjoy and learn the concepts at a relatively equal pace. The diversity of activities, some done concurrently while others involving all students helps take care of diversity in children capacity and backgrounds. The children are assigned roles based on the teacher’s understanding of them as individuals.

In appreciation for the role of play in children’s life, the lessons are anchored on play. The position paper asserts that children are mentally active, always seeking to understand the world around them (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2009, p. 9). Consequently, the curriculum developed advocates of use of things within the vicinity or surroundings of children to help them learn more about the world.

Learning Environment

The skills and activities in the program are aimed at ensuring children enjoy learning. Consequently, by using different forms and prints, the children will be helped to appreciate different letters and words (Echevarria & Vogt, 2000). Moreover, there is concern with introducing children to different sounds through song and listening to stories. Teachers are keen on the development of vocabulary in the different learning areas.

Vocabulary development is critical if the children are to understand other concepts. To facilitate vocabulary development, learning is to be facilitated through listening to stories, retelling of stories, songs and recitations. Writing skills are to be developed through handwriting exercises. The capacity to write letters marks the finally understanding or grasping the numbers and their significance definitively.

It is appreciated that children do best in interactive environments (Caldwell and Spinks, 1992). Therefore, much of the classes or lessons are to be conducted in an interactive environment, where children work together with the facilitative help of teachers close by. Demonstrations are important in making things clear to children. Therefore, teachers through demonstrations will help children to enter into, participate and learn. This implies that conversations characterise much of the learning. The children will be encouraged to voice their thoughts, questions and ideas. The teacher anchoring on those will help the children understand better or actualize what they have in mind. Such a learning environment is accommodative and takes into account the journey of every child.

Assessment and Evaluation

In any learning endeavour, evaluations are critical to understanding how the children are performing and designing better ways of moving forward (McEwan, 2000). However, assessment of children is not like assessment of pupils or students at higher levels of education. Pre-school children evaluation is an ongoing process. The children should be evaluated based on continuing activities. Focus should be on what children are interested in, how they perform different tasks, and how they cooperate with other children. The involvement of parents is very critical in assessing children, encouraging them and providing incentives towards better performance (Gunter, 2001, p. 44).

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Consequently, children assessment must involve in parents participating in children activities and through consultations and dialogue with teachers, appraising the actual performance of the children (Gunter, 2001, p. 44). For instance, on a designated day each week, children will make presentations before parents. This is an opportunity for parents to get involved in assessing their children’s performances. It is also a chance for parents and teachers to affirm the children thus motivating them towards higher achievements.

Conclusion

The curriculum developed is anchored on principles provided in the position statement by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (2009, p. 1) holds that education needs are always changing. There is need for continuous evaluation to make sure the quality of education offered meets the actual needs of young children (Caldwell and Spinks, 1992).

Moreover, there is need to reflect on best practices in place to understand how education positions adopted by educators reflect the actual needs of the children. The educational context changes with passage of time making it necessary for education to be adapted to the key issues of the time. For instance, there is currently an increased number of young children in the American society. Moreover, there is concern with inclusivity and access to education by minority groups and marginalised groups e.g. the disabled and people with mental ability challenges.

To meet the foregoing concerns, the developed curriculum provides variety in activities and approaches so that each child is accommodated. Moreover, the activities are interactive so that individual children are given necessary attention. The program requires close involvement of parents in their education journey. The involvement of parents is critical given they motivate and best understand their children.

Reference List

Caldwell, B. and Spinks J. M. (1992). Leading the Self-Managing School. New York: Routledge.

Echevarria, P. & Vogt, S. (2000). Making Content Comprehensible for English Language Learners, the SIOP Model. New York: Addison Wesley Longman Inc.

Gunter, H. (2001). Leaders and Leadership in Education. California: SAGE.

McEwan, E.K. (2000). Solving School Problems. Tennessee: H. Shaw Publishers.

National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2009). Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, January 10). Teaching Early Childhood: Preschool Curriculum. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/teaching-early-childhood-preschool-curriculum/

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"Teaching Early Childhood: Preschool Curriculum." StudyCorgi, 10 Jan. 2021, studycorgi.com/teaching-early-childhood-preschool-curriculum/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Teaching Early Childhood: Preschool Curriculum." January 10, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/teaching-early-childhood-preschool-curriculum/.


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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Teaching Early Childhood: Preschool Curriculum." January 10, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/teaching-early-childhood-preschool-curriculum/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Teaching Early Childhood: Preschool Curriculum'. 10 January.

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