Saturday, March 5, 2011


I feel that sometimes there is a misunderstanding about what curriculum really is.    Curriculum is the document(s) that state the content and all other components of a specific program.  So it should cover the what, why and how of the program. So, what is being taught, the reasoning behind it and how it's going to be implemented.  It’s also going to include the recommendations of how the environment should be set up, the type of activities that will be implemented, the expectations of how to deal with the children and families, even the training plans for staff and etc.  All of this should be based on scientific research about child development as well as directly represent the program’s philosophy.  Any type of planned assessment should be included and directly influenced by the philosophy and curriculum. There is a lot to complete curriculum.  Many of the products you can find online that represent curriculum is really what I consider curriculum support.
Do I use a curriculum?  At this time, no.  I find that because I like to pull thoughts and ideas from one theorist to another, meaning my philosophy about early childhood education is not based on one idea/theorist, my feelings about what makes a good curriculum is also pulled from one curriculum to another.  Are there good ones out there…yes.  Is it necessary to have one for a homeschooling family, probably not.  Preschool program?  I recommend, especially at a center-based program, that they have a curriculum to implement.  It keeps everyone on the same page and the goals are more easily met. Does the curriculum need to be a purchased one?  No.  Many find that the highly regarded curricula available are too high-priced for their type of program.  A program can create their own curriculum, best done with a team, to meet the needs and desires of the individual program.  For homeschooling families, I recommend that you have goals written down and review them routinely.  When I created the assessment I use for my students presently, I started with reviewing the Kindergarten Department of Education standards for our State.  Then I took a few steps backward to make it developmentally appropriate for preschool and added a few goals that, over time, I have found important for the preschool level.  

Thought I would share with you a little blurb about preschools influenced by different curricula.  It's just that, a blurb.  There is much more information on the Internet if you wish to explore them even more...and if you have a chance...go visit them!  
Play-Based Preschool:  A true play-based program is pretty much that.  All play.  Child chooses where he wants to play, with what, with whom and for how long.  There is minimal, if any, teacher-directed activities.  This type of program tends to be unstructured.  I find that many programs available now take to this “play-based” concept to a certain extent because children do learn best by playing.  I like to tell my families “playing is your child’s work”.  However, I find that for myself, incorporating some teacher-directed activities definitely benefit the children all around. 
Montessori Preschool: This is one of the more readily available preschools also.  To a certain extent, I find that they are partially “play-based” also, definitely child-centered.  However, in their curriculum, there is more of a focus on academics.  The goal in Montessori is for children to learn naturally, at their own pace (like play-based) though natural experiences.  Their curriculum focuses quite a bit on teaching independence and practical life skills.  Maria Montessori actually started this program for children who lived in poverty to teach them the much needed practical life skills.  However, now a days it’s not the children who are at or under the poverty line that make up the majority of the students.  It’s those that can afford to pay the price of this type of preschool.  It can be very expensive.  You also must be aware of those that state they are a Montessori-based preschool but are not certified Montessori.  I love some of the Montessori concepts and include them in my own planning.
Reggio Emilia Preschools: This one isn’t as available as others.  You’ll find these types of program more in the urban areas.  The focus is on creativity, child interests, and natural learning moments.  Teachers are very flexible in their planning and will plan activities for the next day by an interest of the children the day before. 
Waldorf Preschools:  I considered this type of preschool one that is focused around routine, predictability and familiarity.  Many of these types of preschools strive for that home-like environment.  There is a focus on group projects to better allow students to learn about teamwork.  Their curriculum goals surround that thought of educating the “whole-child”---body, mind and spirit.
So, as you can see, they all have good ideas.  Many share philosophies on some levels.  I do not choose to go completely the route of one curriculum and philosophy.  I take a little from this philosophy and a little from that philosophy to make up my own.  As a homeschooling parent you may find yourself doing that same thing.   Take what you find you agree with and combine with other ideas to form your own philosophy and eventually, your own curriculum goals.  Over time and with experience, you may find that your philosophy changes a bit.  Remember, that is OKAY!  There is one more type of preschool and that is academic-based preschools. I find that these types of preschools are becoming less and less as brain and child development researchers gather more and more information.  These types of schools are completely teacher-directed.
Lesson Planning…coming up in the next post!

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