When I am building a curriculum for pre-k it is my philosophy that children at this age learn through play. To accomplish this, the classroom will be set-up for the children to learn math, science, social development, literacy, diversity, and arts. It is said By Jane K. Frobose, Colorado State University Extension Family and Consumer Education Denver County, that “through play, children learn about themselves, their environment, people and the world around them. As they play, children learn to solve problems and to get along with others. They enhance their creativity and develop leadership skills and healthy personalities. Play develops skills children need to learn to read and write. Play in early childhood is the best foundation for success in school.”(February 2008) I could not agree more and could not have said it better. Children are wired to play and have short attention spans because of this we must make learning fun.
For me, curriculum building begins with set up of the classroom. I will offer several areas of learning in different areas of the classroom. These would include but may not be limited to an art area, block area, dramatic play, small manipulative, reading area, music, and math and science area. When setting up these areas I will add activities and props that will promote diversity, critical thinking, and social development. For example to promote diversity in the classroom I will have pictures and posters of people of different backgrounds and culture, I will have students make a poster of their families and post them for the class to enjoy, making home-made books that the students take part in making that describes their culture using pictures (family homework), adding babies of different race in the dramatic play area, costumes from different cultures, offering props in the block area of people of all ages, race, and ability, to play with the blocks.
I will promote good social skills by setting a good example in the classroom, taking the time to listen to each child and respond appropriately, it is ok for children to have feelings even if the feeling is angry but they must be taught how to address these feelings. I will offer a journal for the children to write in when they have feeling of any kind, this could be happy, sad, mad, or any other thoughts. This journal will be in a private setting so not only can children have time to themselves to think and write or draw but to also separate a child if they cannot handle being in a large group for a while. We all need time to ourselves occasionally. To help the children with the journal writing I will offer magazines so the children can cut out pictures or words of how they feel, a feelings chart, books on how to deal appropriately with feelings and so on. I will also be available and observing social interaction between children so I am able to help resolve an argument if needed or just the presence of a teacher can help a child make the right decision.
Once the classroom is set-up so that the learning areas are in place, I will start observing and assessing the children using the Wisconsin Early Learning Standards (The Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards Steering Committee, 2011). To do this I will have to observe children during play and I may have to set-up assessment in small learning area to assess the needs of each child. This not only assesses the needs of each child but also gives the teacher an opportunity to get to know each child and learn their interests build units for the curriculum. Observations and assessment are also used when meeting with parents to keep them informed and involved.
Parent involvement will also be part of my curriculum. A copy of the monthly lesson plan will go to the parents with a letter to explain how the children will learn from each activity. The letter will also give suggestions as to what the parents can do at home including resources to book to read at home and links to educational websites to ensure the children are being taught at home and at school. I will also keep open communication with parents by providing contacts for them to reach me if they have a question, concern, or just input on the unit we are studying.
Now that I am informed on the needs and interests of the students I can then pick a unit to study. Once I pick a unit with the help of the students I will use the webbing method to decide what the children will learn about and add props to the areas of learning that are based on the unit. I will go to the library to get books, and books on CD for the children to listen to, go to resale shops to get materials for the dramatic play area, add props to the block area that are part of the unit. Art projects will be offered in the art area using different types of materials, materials will be added to the sensory table to the children will also be able to learn using all their senses. The math and science area will be supplied with file folder games related to the unit theme and nature can be offered to the science area. Creativity will be embraced through many materials offered throughout the classroom including music, games, and books for group time. It is important to know that not all things have to change to the unit theme, to keep consistency in learning things like the days of the week and how the calendar works it is important to keep these things as consistent as possible.
When planning a curriculum you must also plan a daily schedule. This schedule should be consistent each day so the children know what to expect. When planning the daily schedule it is a necessity to take transitions into consideration. Some ideas given by Claudia Elliason and Loa Jenkins in A Practical Guide To Early Childhood Curriculum include “songs, clapping particular rhythms, piano cords, and turning off the lights”. (2012) An example of a daily schedule includes; every morning the children know they should hang up their coats and put their belongings in their cubbies. Then they should bring all materials to the basket for the teacher (take home folder), wash their hands and finally sit down for breakfast.
After this children are brought together for group where we will discuss the events for the day, talk about the unit read a book or play a game, and then be broken into small groups to learn through play. After small group time the class will get ready for large muscle activities (outside, game, field, ect). Once large motor activities are over the classroom will meet back at the group area to be dismissed to wash hands and eat lunch. After lunch the children prepare for quiet time, and then small groups again, another large muscle activity and finally our going home routines (find their folder, put in backpack, get outside cloths on and be dismissed). Not only will I have the daily schedule posted for the parents to see but I will also offer the schedule in picture and word format so the children are able to look at the schedule to determine what is next.
Now that the daily schedule is put in place and the classroom is a learning environment the children are ready to play (learn)! During the small group time the teacher will take the time to observe the children learning by getting involved in their play if they are receptive to it and to offer my input when necessary. Children need to be able to make mistakes but teachers must be there to help guide children to make good choices by keeping them busy and offering lots of positive feedback.
I have been lucky enough to be involved in early education for thirteen years and cannot stress enough that I have found through experience; children do learn through play however, it is important that the teacher takes the time to set up the classroom in an inviting matter where children can learn. The language and feedback the teachers use when teaching the children is also an important component to teaching. Teachers must offer love, understanding, patience, openness, and knowledge for children to really be the best they can possibly be. All of this can be shown through the curriculum.
Jane K. Frobose (2008). Learning through Play- a Child’s Job [Electronic version] Colorado State University, retrieved October 29, 2012 from http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/columncc/cc010309.html The Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards Steering Committee (2011) Wisconsin Early Learning Standards, retrieved October 29, 2012 from
Claudia Eliason and Loa Jenkins (2012). A Practical Guide to Early Childhood Curriculum, pg.82 para 6. Pearson Education, Inc.