Developing Early Childhood Curriculum: 5 Tips for New Teachers
The process of early childhood curriculum development can be challenging. In today’s preschool classrooms, teachers must prepare the students for a wide variety of experiences for the coming years ahead. Not only do the students need to be introduced to the academic setting, but they also need to be provided the proper learning environment for social skills and cultural norms.
Typically, teachers will have a say in the curriculum in their own early childhood classroom. They also have to make sure the lesson plans meet a certain set of criteria that has been put in place by the administration or school district. Below are five tips to help teachers put together a complete early childhood curriculum.
1. Know the students’ capabilities
The teacher should start by studying the capabilities of the average preschool student. By the time a student enters preschool, they are usually between the ages of 3 and 4 years old. At this point most students should be able to run, walk and play without falling on a regular basis. They should have basic hand-eye coordination, allowing them to maneuver child-safe scissors and create projects with basic instructions. Preschool children should be using their imaginations when they play and they should be starting to recognize letters in the alphabet.
2. Know standards for the curriculum
Next, the instructor should take the time to understand what the standards are for the average curriculum in their particular classroom. A teacher should begin his or her research within the state that they are teaching. Every state has a Department of Education which outlines what the standards are for the preschool curriculum in that area. It is important to note that while each state has its own set of standards, the standards do not vary much from state to state. Most educational professionals agree on what needs to be taught in preschool.
3. Create written outline
As the curriculum is developed, the teacher should create a written outline for how the year will progress. This will become an important reference for the preschool teacher throughout the school year, and it will help the teacher stay on track as the year progresses. This written outline can be edited or adjusted as necessary, but it provides a certain amount of support for the preschool teacher and is an important part of early childhood curriculum development.
4. Understand expectations for teacher’s instruction
After the outline is created, the teacher’s role should be defined. It is important to know what the teacher will show the students versus what the students will do on their own. This portion of the curriculum development should be addressed by the administration. Defining the teacher’s role within the early childhood classroom allows the teacher to have a better understanding of what is expected of him or her during the school year. It is up to the teacher to engage the students through activities and lessons, so teachers need to know how involved they need to be on any given day. Some lesson plans will require more individual work from the students, while others might require the teacher to be more hands-on during the learning process.
5. Include creativity in instruction
A teacher should always make creativity a priority within his or her classroom. As the curriculum for the preschool classroom is addressed each year, it is important to make sure that each activity is exciting and fresh. Keeping creativity at the forefront allows everyone to have an open mind, to discuss what worked and what didn’t work in previous years and to add in new ideas as the plan allows. At the end of the day, teachers and administrators who make it a point to stay creative have classrooms that are more fun and more engaging, allowing students to more thoroughly enjoy their preschool experience.
Early childhood curriculum development can be a challenging yet fun process for any preschool teacher. It is an opportunity to impact a child’s educational experience while trying new activities that are designed to impact the core learning areas. A preschool teacher should note that all curriculum plans should address these main subjects: social, physical and cultural development, language arts, math, science, social studies, art and literacy. Providing students with a well-rounded education during these first crucial years is essential to their success later in life.