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Early Childhood Curriculum Essay

Introduction: Early Childhood is an important stage of children’s life. By interacting with people around (each other and the adults), children explore and make sense of the world around them. A successful early childhood curriculum should fulfill children’s need to give children rich experience at the most important developmental stage of their lives. This paper will critically discuss, compare and contrast High/Scope, Reggio Emilia to Te Whariki, at the end of this paper the author will talk about own philosophy of early childhood education.

Hi/Scope Curriculum was developed in US in 1962 in Michcigan, this programme was designed for at risk children from low income families. There were significant issues for thildren from lower class society and especially African-American children which were shown to be low achievers and low IQ scores comparing with the same-age children in the other area at this time. In 1962 David Weikart of Ypsilanti, Michigan, became distressed at the inability of the local school system to produce literate, functional adults (Holt, 2007). As an experienced teacher, Weikart took a hard look at best practice and current educational theories.

He wanted to discover a preschool curriculum that would generate better academic outcomes in later years and equip children to deal successfully with life as adults. With colleagues, Weikart initiated an experimental preschool programme, comparing the progress of his children with a control group of the same age kept at home. Thus the construction of the framework known as the High/Scope approach began. The main features of the program was regular visiting home bade by teachers, during which teachers shared information about children’s learning and development, children’s interesting was informed teacher by parents.

This programme was implemented within a number of countries based on the model (Holt, 2007). The deprived neighbourhoods of Ypsilanti started to see a positive turn in children’s academic success, and the High/Scope approach spread. The success of Weikart’s approach was borne out by statistics gathered as the years went by: his High/Scope students achieved better job retention, higher earnings, lower arrest rates, and less dependency on social services.

The High/Scope philosophy is based on the work of Jean Piaget, Piage suggests that “When the active school requires that student’s efforts come from the student himself instead of being imposed, and that his intelligence undertakes authentic work instead of accepting predigested knowledge from outside, it is simply asking that laws of all intelligence be respected” (cited in Dunlap, 1997, p. 56) Piaget used the term “active school” to refer to a child being involved in active exploration of and ecperimentation with the environment rather than the child passively listening to a teacher provide instruction.

High/Scope focuses on the importantance of active learning (Dunlap, 1997). The HighScope Curriculum emphasizes active participatory learning. Active learning means students have direct, hands-on experiences with people, objects, events, and ideas. Children’s interests and choices are at the heart of the HighScope programs. Children are active learners, they learn best through the experiences that they gained from the world around them and their own discoveries (Holt, 2007). They construct their own knowledge through interactions with the world and the people around them.

In active learning settings, adults expand children’s thinking with diverse materials and nurturing interactions environment. The Wheel of Active Learning High/Scope is often pictured as a ‘wheel’ rotating on the ‘hub’ of active learning—learning through hands-on involvement with people, materials, events, and ideas. High/Scope’s wheel of active learning has four ‘spokes’: Adult/Child Interaction, Learning Environment, Daily Routine, and Assessment. Adult/Child Interaction means that shared control between adults and children is central to the High/Scope Curriculum.

In addition to sharing control, adults in a High/Scope classroom participate in children’s play, conversa as partners with them, focus on children’s strengths and offer them support, and encourage children’s problem solving. Lists of recommended ‘key experiences’ (58 of them) have been compiled and incorporated into the High/Scope curriculum, to further children’s mental, physical, social and emotional development. These key experiences fall into ten categories: creative representation, language and literacy, initiative and social relations, movement, music, classification, seriation, number, space, and time.

Learning Experience/environment is about how High/Scope settings set out their rooms to support children’s choices and interest. In High/Scope settings, a well-defined interest areas that typically include a home area, art area, block area, toy area, and other areas that reflect the children’s interests. High/Scope classrooms follow a predictable sequence of events called the Daily Routine. The daily routine in a High/Scope classroom includes plan-do-review, small and large group time, outside time, transition times, and eating and resting times.

Plan-do-review is a key component of High/Scope approach, children first plan what materials they want to work with, what they want to do and whom they want do it with. Once they have made a plan they can go and do it. Then, after this chosen work -time, the children discuss what they did and whether it was the same as or different from what they had planned. Another key element of High/Scope is Assessment. In High/Scope settings, teachers assess children’s development with comprehensive observations, they record daily anecdotes describing what children do and says.

Teachers review these anecdotes and rate each child using an assessment tool that is organized into six areas of development several times a year. These scores will help the teachers design developmentally appropriate learning opportunities and can be used to explain children’s progress during conferences (Holt, 2007) Holt stressed that there are five basic ingredients of High/Scope approch: a variety of interesting Materials; the opportunity to explore and work with materials-Manipulation; the opportunity to choose materials and decide how to use them- Choice; children talk about their experiences and learning-Language; Support for adult.

(Holt, 2007, p,13) Roopnarine and Johnson argued that teachers new to the High/Scope curriculum sometimes confusing about their roles. They should see themselves as actively observers and setting up problem solving situations for children (Roopnarine and Johnson, 2003). Generally, Sheinehart described the Validity of the High/Scope Reschool Education Model as: “The High/Scope model of preschool education is an open framework of educational ideas and practices based on the natural development of young children, developed by David Weikart and his colleagues in the 1960s.

Based on the child development ideas of Jean Piaget, the High/Scope preschool model views children as active learners, who learn best from activities that they themselves plan, carry out, and reflect upon. Adults arrange interest areas in the learning environment; maintain a daily routine that permits children to learn actively; and join in children’s activities, asking questions that extend children’s plans and help them think through what they do. They encourage children to engage in a variety of key experiences that contribute to their own development. ” (Sheinehart, 2003).

Comparing with Te Whariki (the National Curriculum Framework for Early Childhood of New Zealand), Te Whariki is adopted Vygotsky’s sociolcultural approach, it is a bicultural document, which is written in both English and Maori. “The developers of Te Whariki developed a framework that has implemented a bicultural perspective, an anti-racist approach and reciprocal relationships with the Maori Community in New Zealand”(Soler &Miller, 2003, p,62) Reggio Emilia is a small town of about 130,000 people in Northern Italy. The approach was developed at the end of World War Two by the local community.

Since then, “the city of Reggio Emilia has been developing an educational system for young children through the collaborative efforts of parents, teachers, and the general community, under the guiding influence of Loris Malaguzzi” (Hewett, 2001, p,95). In 1991, Newsweek magazine noted that in Reggio Emilia, there are 33 infant/toddler schools and preschools of the system were among the ten best school systems in the world. Over the last 35 years, a process of collaborative examination and snalysis of teaching and learning about children were carried out by the teachers in the Reggio Emilia schools.

This examination and analysis has broadened constructivist theory, and the results have been demonstrated to experts in education. (Klein, 2007) So far, “the schools in Regil Emilia have grown out of a culture that values children, out of the intense commitment of group of parents, out of the leadership of a visionary man” (Neugebauer, 1994, p,67). The key elements of Reggio Emilia approach include: Child as active leaner; Environment as the third teacher; three parties (children, parents and teachers) collaborating in children’s learning; Making learning visible.

Regio Emilia approach requires children to be seen as competent, resourceful, curious, imaginative, innovative and possessing a desire to interact and communicate with others. The role of collaboration among children, teachers and parent, the co-construction of knowledge, the interdependence of individual and social learning and the role of culture in understanding this interdependence. (Baji Rankin, 2004). The approach is based on work of Dewey, Paiget & Vygotsky, these multiple influences led Reggio Emilia approach see children as active and competent learner.

(klein, 2007) Although the approach draws many ideas and theories of the great thinkers, “the fundamental philosophy serving to guide this approach is much more than an eclectic mix of theories” (Hewett, 2001, p. 99). Cooperation and collaboration are terms that stress the value of revisiting social learning. First of all, in term of cooperation, children must become member of a community that is working together, once there is a foundation of trust between the children and adults, collaboration start. An atelierista is a teacher who has a special training that supports the curriculum development of the children and other faculty members.

Pedagogistas are built in as part of the carefully planned support system of the Reggio Emilia schools. They are educational consultants that strive to implement the philosophy of the system and advocate for seeing children as the competent and capable people they are. They also make critical connections between families, schools, and community. (Klein, 2007). “Documentation” is one of the special features of the Reggio Emilia approach, it uses the environment to explain the history of projects and the school coommunity.

It serves many pruposes but the most important is used as a research tool for studing children’s learning porcesses. According to Hong (1998) : “Documentation is about what children are doing, learning and grasping and the product of documentation is a reflection of interactions between teachers and children and among children. Because it is done on a daily basis, is a medium through which teachers discuss curriculum, keep it fluid and emergent, and develop a rational for its course. It provids a growing theory for daily practice” (p, 51) One of the highlights of Reggio Emilia is the complex long term exploratio of the porjects.

The projects of Reggio Emilia always involves in everyday subjects rather than remote or academic ones, such as: weather, rainbows, sunlight, city life, etc and it always be long term projects. In a Reggio Emilia setting, it always includes an art studio and mini-art corners adjoining the individual classrooms. An professional artist is a standard member of staff, complementing the work of teachers by helping children communicate in their ‘hundred languages,’as Malaguzzi referred to children’s many ways of expressing themselves.

The Reggio teacher plays a role of artful balacing between engagement and attention (Edwards, 1998). Classroom teachers work in pairs, organize environments rich in possibilites and provocations that invite the children to undertake extended exploration and problem solving. Teachers also are as documenters for the children, help them trace and revist their words and actions to make the learning visible. They provide instruction in tool and material use for children, help find materials and resources, and scaffold children’s learning.

The Reggio Emilia teachers are unique because they offer themselves to the process of co-construction of knowledge, they release the traditional roles of the teachers and open doors to new possibilities. The teacher start with the use of the children’s own theories, promote disequlibrium, and help children to think about their thinking to facilitate new learning (Klein, 2007). Different than High/Scope, the environment of Reggio Emilia set up as a “third teacher”, it is believed beauty helps with concentration, the setting of Reggio Emila always very attractive and pleasing.

Different with the other early childhood setting, the layout of typical school set up like the traditional Italian town square with a central, indoor piazza, kitchen and the courtyard. The layout of the setting encourages encounters communication and relationships. (Thornton and Brunton, 2007) The educators of Reggio Emilia view the school as a living organism which sharing relationships among the children, the teachers and the parents. The school produces for the adults, but above all for the children, a feeling of belonging in a world that is alive welcoming and authentic (Malaguzzi, 1994, p. 58).

One of the criticisms of the Reggio Emilia approach is that it has been in the absence of a written curriculum and it is a lack of accountability to the wider society. (Soler and Miller, 2003) Any early childhood setting want to apply Reggio Emilia approach to one’s own practice must be careful with the different cultural background. As Hewett stressed that “Reggio Emilia approach is strongly influenced by a unique image of the child and deeply embedded within the surrounding culture” (2001, p. 99) The Reggio Emilia approach can not be simply coped, it must be carefully uncovered and redefined according to one’s own culture.

Similar as Te Whariki, Reggio Emilia is based upon sociocultural principles and emphasizes a child (learner)- centered practice to teaching and learning. The difference between Te Whariki and Reggio Emilia is that Reggio Emilia is not a compromise between the demands of a National Curriculum. The educator of Reggio Emilia do not follow any predetermined national framework, so the Reggio Emilia is always referred to as an ‘approach’ or ‘educational system’ not as a ‘curriculum’ (Soler and Miller, 2003).

Early Childhood is an important stage in children’s lives when they find out about and make sense of their surroundings by interacting with others. An ideal curriculum should highlight this tremendous capacity that children have to learn and develop, and the importance of everyone working together to give children rich experiences in these early years. As an early childhood educator, the author has been working in different early childhood settings. The approaches that the setting applied include Montessori, High/Scope and play based.

In author’s opinion, the curriculum play the important role of early childhood education, teacher’s role of implementing the curriculum to the daily practical work is more important. Conclusion: Early childhood is the most important time of great opportunity for children’s learning and development. The early childhood curriculum should provide children enjoyable and challenging learn experiences so that children can grow and develop as competent and confident learners.

In this paper, the philosophy, features and development of High/Scope and Reggio Emilia approach have been discussed. Meanwhile, the author compares these two curriculums with Te Whariki and talk about the philosophy of early childhood education as well. Reference list Edwards, C. , Gandini, L. , & Forman, G. (1998). The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia approach—advanced reflections. New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corporation. Hewett, V. M. (2001) Examining the Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education.

Early Childhood Education Journal, 29(2), 95-100. Holt, N. (2007). Bringing the high/scope approach to your early years practice. Oxon,UK: Routledge. Klein, A. S. (2007). Different Approaches to Teaching: Comparing Three Preschool Programs. Available From: http://www. earlychildhoodnews. com/earlychildhood/article_print. aspx? ArticleId=367 [Accessed 17 February] Neugebauer, B. (1994). Unpacking My Question and Images: Personal Reflections of Reggio Emilia. Child Care Information Exchange, 3, 67-70. Newsweek (1991, Dec. 2).

The 10 Best Schools in the World, and what we can learn from them. 51-64. Schweinhart, L. J. (2005). The High/Scope Perry Preschool Study Through Age 40. Ypsilanti, US: High/Scope Press. Soler, J. , & Miller, L. (2003). The Struggle for Early Childhood Curricula: a comparison of the English Foundation Stage Curriculum, Te Whariki and Reggio Emilia. International Journal of Early Years Education, 11(1), 57-67. Thornton, L. & Brunton, P. (2005). Understanding the Reggio approach: Reflections on the early childhood experience of Reggio Emilia. London, UK: David Fulton.


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