What is Emergent Curriculum?
By Carol Anne Wien
“Emergent curriculum is an approach to teacher planning that begins with listening. Teacher collaborates to watch for children’s interests, worries, desires, understandings and use these as the beginning points for curriculum. It is developmentally appropriate, and builds on well-developed observation skills of early childhood teachers. Once teachers select a focus, they plan provocations or interesting events that stimulate children’s thinking and activity. Teachers document children’s responses and think carefully about the next step. The intent of emergent curriculum is to slow down and deepen positive relationships among children, teachers, families and their environment.” (Wien & Stacey, 2000)
How is Emergent Curriculum Beneficial to My Child’s Development?
Emergent Curriculum is a style of teaching that presents children with the gift of discovering the world around them by encouraging them to explore life through their own interests and passions. It is “child lead” or “child based” learning as an opposed to “teacher directed” learning.
The educator collect and present the children with as much information as they can gather, revealing it through experiences such as: visuals, art activities, webs, stories, circle times, songs and field trips. Consequentially the educators strive to expose the children to as many “hands on” experiences as possible.
The educator’s objective through this method of teaching is to nurture positive social skills, encourage creative problem solving, support the developmental growth of a child and build a solid foundation from which children can stand on during their life.
A large part of the emergent curriculum is documentation. My program is supplemented by focused portfolios which is a tool for the ongoing observation and recording of each child’s development. It is a process to document children’s growth and is based on accepted developmental milestones charts. Focus portfolios include photographs and anecdotes for seven areas of development and is a document used to share information about the whole child, with each family.
The Educational Program:
- provides for all areas of a child’s development: physical, emotional/moral, social, cognitive, language, fine motor and creative through an integrated approach.
- responds to each child’s special interests and developmental progress.
- emphasizes learning as an interactive process. Teacher prepares the environment for children to learn through active exploration and interaction with adults, other children, and materials.
- balances activities through the day: child-initiated/teacher-directed, rest/active, and individual or small group/large group.
- have adults respond quickly and directly to children’s needs, desires, and messages.
- facilitates the development of self-control in children and plans for increasing independence as children acquire skills.
- works in partnership with families.
- assesses the individual child’s development and learning and responds accordingly.
- encourages multi-age grouping activities.
Guidance and Pro-Social Skills Development
The most important guidance strategy is to help children develop an inner sense of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, utilizing the following methods:
- Model and reinforce appropriate behavior
- Praise and reinforce positive social interactions
- Teach age-appropriate social skills
- Ensure that the environment is as effective as possible
- Use preventative measures and be alert to potential problem situations and re-adjust as required.
What Children Deserve
- Children deserve to be heard, understood, and accepted as individuals, each having their own personality and rhythm.
- Children deserve to be safe emotionally and physically.
- Children deserve the opportunity to experience childhood with all their curiosity and creativity.
- Children deserve a learning environment and material that reflects their needs, interests and personality.
- Children deserve a predictable, consistent, calm environment and routine.
- Children deserve a place where children interact and learn from their peers.
- Children deserve an educator who model and teach pro-social skills; who is empathetic, responsive, patient and respectful to all children and families.
- Children deserve an educator who is skilled and knowledgeable in child development theories and approaches.
Once a year the educator meets individually with parents to discuss the child's progress at the childcare. However, parents should feel free to arrange to meet their child's educator at any time to discuss specific problems occurring either at childcare or at home. Parents will be receiving two sets of focused portfolio during the year, first set will be handed out in December followed by the parents/teacher meeting and second set due in June.