Early Childhood Curriculum and Methods
Early Childhood Curriculum and Methods
Creative Curriculum is probably the most effective curriculum that would appeal to every type of child. With this curriculum, every activity can be altered to fit the needs of each individual child, rather than a certain type of child or children. The Waldorf approach to learning goes hand-in-hand with the Creative Curriculum. They both suggest that learning should be fun and filled with interesting activities that will keep the children engaged in the learning process.
This curriculum and approach is perfect for Pre-K children. At this age, the children are getting familiar with the education process and their first impression on learning will stick with them for life. If this is so, why not give them an impression that is filled with good fun and learning, all in one? The Waldorf approach and Creative curriculum support the learning process by promoting movement and allowing the children to be free to explore their surroundings and learn from their experiences. Pre-K children are constantly moving around and being curious about things around them, therefore, Creative curriculum give the teacher a guide of what types of activities to prepare and what affects they will have on the children.
“The curriculum includes information on children’s development and learning, classroom organization and structure, teaching strategies, instructional goals and objectives, and guidance on how to engage families in their children’s learning.” (What Works Clearinghouse) “Steiner believed the purpose of education was to allow children the freedom to develop their inner potential. He also believed that learning should be driven by children’s interests and questions.” Children should be allowed to freely choose their own activities as their interest is stimulated and curiosity sets in. If the children are engaged in such activities that they choose on their own, learning would be more fun.
The children get the chance to investigate, problem-solve, and trouble-shoot on their own. With all of this independence, the children should always be encouraged to seek assistance when needed and assistance should be accessible as soon as it is asked for. (Jaruszewicz) The classroom is designed to be intriguing and attention-grabbing to the children to get them enthused about learning. The setup of each area and the materials in each area will contribute to the children’s learning in ways unimaginable. The materials are to be rotated, preferably on a weekly basis, to decrease the chances of boredom. Items should be bright and colorful and should be open-ended, such as paints, clay, and blocks.
The classroom must be arranged in a way that respects each individual area and their purposes. Quiet, calm areas, such as Reading, Computer, and Science, should be around each other. Noisy, active areas, such as Blocks, Music, Dramatic Play, and Art should be arranged near each other. Spacing is also important when the children are in the areas. There should always be adequate spacing to allow the children to move freely without knocking over objects and causing harm to themselves or anyone else.
Toys in the classroom should stimulate the children’s interest and be used as reference to indirectly teach life skills. Toys such as building blocks, beads, wooden trains and cars, and peg boards are fun for the children, and at the same time, they help the children strengthen everyday muscles that will be used in their everyday lives. “Objects have always played a role in educating children, but the concept of an educational device or toy to instill specific lessons is only about three hundred years old.” (Ogata)
“Like the concept of the toy, notions of play, creativity, and childhood have been knit together as a modern construction. Embedded in historical and philosophical discussions of play, creativity has had close links with a belief in the positive effects of the human imagination.” The types of objects, or toys, which are stationed in the areas, will help to draw attention to the activities and reel in the children to engage in them. The use of technology has also been incorporated in the school system. Computer tablets and various educational software are used to help the children learn, too. Some children are familiar with different technology from the home environment and their interest is in the computer programs.
(Ogata) Dramatic play in highly encouraged and the children should be provided with materials that reflect the home environment as much as possible. It is in the dramatic play area where teachers would most likely get familiar with the children as individuals. For some reason, the children “open-up” in this area than any other area. Children act out things they may have seen on television or in the home. They also pretend a lot in the dramatic play area. They may pretend to be a chef, cooking a great meal, a waitress, bringing someone some food, or maybe even a cashier, counting money and giving change. “Children love to move. Movement is a part of their lives from the very moment they are born.
Children obtain joy and happiness through movement. There are many reasons for providing opportunities for children to move. It has been shown that prime learning and growth comes by and through movement (Andress, 1991). Movement is the primary form of expression from a child’s earliest days. Even when speech becomes the major vehicle for expression, a child still falls back on gesture and movement for nuance and emphasis. It is through movement that the child very often finds the only means to manifest deeply felt emotions (Liselott, 1991). A preschool child’s primary means of communication is through movement.
Movement is both functional and meaningful. Children use movement instinctively, expressing their feelings, thoughts and desires through their bodies, in ways that are spontaneous and imaginative (Taylor, 1975). Creative movement promotes growth in many areas of development, including the physical, mental, social, and emotional. It allows children to develop creative thinking, problem-solving skills, and motor skill abilities. The effects of movement naturally overflow into other aspects. Stimulation of these skills and abilities allows children to apply them to the learning of other subjects (Clements, 1995; Gilbert, 1992; Pica, 1990a, 1997, 2000).” (Wang)
The curriculum should include activities that present the opportunity for each child to participate and be included in them. Because children move around so much and enjoy it, it only makes sense to include movement into the areas to enhance learning. For Math, an activity that allows the children to move and learn would be very successful, such as “Hop-Scotch”. It can be played with shapes, numbers, or colors. In the Science area, the children can be engaged in some outside play that allows them to investigate the weather and nature, such as kite flying or simply let the children pretend to be the wind.
They can also stand still and see if the wind is strong enough to blow them out of their spot and then try to run against a strong wind. A Reading activity that would be beneficial to the children would be to toss bean bags on target letters and make the sound of the letter when the bean bag lands on it. To enhance the learning, the letters can then be exchanged with sight words. For fine Arts, the children can use different objects to paint, such as spray bottles, water balloons, eye droppers, sponges, and their body (hands and feet) to create works of art. Children should not be restricted to simply using paint brushes to express their artistic interests. They may even think of things on their own to paint with.
The teacher in the classroom is expected to be engaged in the activities, as well. Many children adapt to situations by seeing someone else go through them. By having the teachers model the activities for the children and explain as he/ she goes, the children receive a visual note of the activity, as well as an auditory note. The teacher helps to set the tone for the classroom, so if the children see the teacher enjoying activities and having fun, the chances of the children wanting to get involved in it would increase greatly.
Parents play huge parts in the children’s education, too. Without the additional help from parents, the teachers’ jobs are far more strenuous than if there were cooperating parents helping the children to further their education through activities that have been expanded to the home environment. The teachers and parents work together to keep the children interested in learning and also lets the children know that they have support when needed to help them. The teacher and the parents can collaborate to enhance the children’s learning experience by having the teacher send home material and suggestive activities that coincides with the curriculum for the month.
Daily, or perhaps weekly progress reports can be sent home to fill in the parents about what their child/ children have learned, will be learning the following day or week, and what the parents can do to help out. Maybe once a month, there could be parent meetings or training to give the parents some support about their child/ children’s education and how they can help out. Using the Creative curriculum and the Waldorf approach would help to make the children’s learning experience fun and allow them to express themselves creatively and learn at the same time. By incorporating interesting activities and providing materials that spark the children’s interest and allow them to manipulate them and explore them on their own, the children’s learning experience will be very pleasant and one to remember.
Jaruszewicz, C. (2012). Curriculum and methods for early childhood educators. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education
What Works Clearinghouse, (. (2009). The Creative Curriculum[R] for Preschool. WWC Intervention Report. What Works Clearinghouse
Hargreaves, J. (2008). Risk: The Ethics of a Creative Curriculum. Innovations In Education And Teaching International, 45(3), 227-234.
Almon, J. (1992). Educating for creative thinking, the Waldorf approach. Revision, 15(2), 71.
Wang, J. (2003). The Effects of a Creative Movement Program on Motor Creativity of Children Ages Three to Five.
Amy F. Ogata. Creative Playthings: Educational Toys and Postwar American Culture. Winterthur Portfolio , Vol. 39, No. 2/3 (Summer/Autumn 2004), pp. 129-156. Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Inc. Article DOI: 10.1086/433197. Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/433197