The early years of a child’s life are of immense growth and development that lay the foundations for future success and well-being. During these critical years, curriculum plays a vital role in shaping cognitive, emotional, physical, social, and cultural capabilities. As teachers or parents, understanding the importance of early childhood curriculum is essential in fostering a nurturing learning environment that empowers young minds. In the article below, you’ll get an overview of the curriculum for Early Childhood Education, how it is developed, how it is made effective, and most importantly, how its effectiveness is evaluated.
Definition of Curriculum in Early Childhood Education
The word curriculum is often used when dealing with the organized assemblage of educational material that aims to enhance kids’ mental growth. Strategies and methodologies being relied upon to do so are also a part of the curriculum. The concept of the word curriculum is much wider than we think. It is not just a course outline but a detailed map that is to be followed by the teachers, students, and parents.
Keeping the needs of young minds in view, the curriculum is designed in such a way that it effectively helps in promoting normal physical and mental growth. Enriching young minds with education regarding the basic processes of life, e.g., speaking, walking, etc., is usually the top priority of educators. Usually, the curriculum for Early Childhood Education consists of course contents that will aid young minds in thinking positively, cooperating with teachers and parents, interacting with the environment, controlling themselves, and thinking critically.
How is Curriculum Important in Early Childhood Education?
Curriculum plays a significant role in Early Childhood Education and all fields of education. The significance of the curriculum is mainly because child growth is directly dependent upon it. Whether it’s the mental or physical growth of the child, an all-inclusive curriculum plays the most vital role. Usually, the curriculum is crafted to take care of all children’s needs. One of the most important roles played by the curriculum is that it sets standards. The curriculum clarifies the academic objectives that are to be achieved by a child of a specific age.
During this phase, the interests of children are also monitored by observing their behavior while playing and interacting with each other. Child growth can also be monitored due to the framework of the curriculum. This way, the parents and the educators can make the right decisions. The curriculum not only aids the students, but also helps the teachers establish new strategies and techniques for effectively teaching the students. The curriculum is a conjunction between educators, parents, and other individuals who might be involved somehow in a child’s growth. In this way, the curriculum plays the most significant role in Early Childhood Education for educators and students.
Approaches to Consider When Establishing an Early Childhood Curriculum
When developing a curriculum for early childhood education, the approaches that can be relied upon should be considered. Here is a list of these approaches:
● An approach based on Play:
As the name suggests, this play-based approach relies upon the philosophy of letting the children play games and teaching them valuable lessons while playing.
● Child-Centered Approach:
In this approach, a curriculum based on an individual child’s needs is formed. In this way, the curriculum is crafted per the desires and interests of the little mind.
● Reggio Emilia Approach:
Reggio Emilia, an Italian approach, emphasizes educating the children by making them work on long-period projects and practical activities involving collaboration among different individuals.
● Montessori Approach:
This approach is based upon the philosophy that Maria Montessori put forward. This approach mainly encourages self-control, discipline, and concentration in the children.
● Emergent Approach:
This approach is mainly based on the questions being asked by the children, their interests, and, most importantly, their observations. So, this is the approach in which the educator has to observe the child’s behavior and activities.
● Project-Based Learning:
In this approach, children are made to learn through projects. They are given long-time projects. These projects aim to improve children’s research and investigation skills. Moreover, it results in the developing of creativity in children. They are also able to sort out things on their own and present their ideas.
These approaches can be adopted while developing the curriculum for Early Childhood Education. There are other approaches as well, but these six approaches are the most used ones. There might be some other approaches available because of the wide geography of the world, but those mentioned above are those which are being used in the majority of countries.
Developing an Early Childhood Curriculum- Step-by-Step Guide
Although formulating a curriculum seems to be an easy task, in reality, it is a much more complicated process. It is not like you will take a paper and start writing. The following steps need to be followed when developing a curriculum for early childhood education:
● STEP 1
The first step is to know the ideology upon which your curriculum for early childhood education will be based. After you have done choosing the philosophy, you have to ask yourself what you want the children to achieve with this curriculum.
● STEP 2
You should know what the children’s needs are. You should be able to assess their needs and work for them. For this, you can conduct different types of surveys and quizzes among them. You should also have sound knowledge of their cultural history, their interests, and abilities.
● STEP 3
Now that you are done with steps 1 and 2, you should start thinking about working on the consequences. You need to assess what you’re expecting from the children after they have completed the curriculum. You should also highlight the skills that the children will be learning after completing this curriculum.
● STEP 4
Know which topics are more appealing to you and give them importance accordingly. If you want the children, after completing the curriculum, to be better in math, then you should focus on mathematics. Other disciplines include Science, Social Studies, Maths, Language, and Creative Arts.
● STEP 5
Prepare a methodology of learning. This includes the way you want the young minds to learn something. Instead of letting them learn independently, you should introduce new techniques to them through which they can learn more effectively.
● STEP 6
You should develop strategies to evaluate the knowledge of students. Instead of making dull assessment methods like written tests, you should come up with something more appealing to the children. In this way, the children will take much interest in the tests and will eventually perform better.
● STEP 7
Classify the curriculum. Divide the curriculum into smaller sections, depending on your selected approach. You should not do this by your will, but rather you should do it after learning children’s behavior and their learning styles.
● STEP 8
Make a plan for how you will respond to issues where individual guidance for an individual will be needed. Learn to tackle individual issues without causing a disturbance for others. You should also make a plan if you will make adjustments depending on the learning styles and the needs of the students.
● STEP 9
You should then move to plan how you will apply this curriculum. You must carefully look into the roles played by the parents, teachers, and students. You should also plan how to deal with issues involving parents and other teaching and non-teaching staff.
● STEP 10
The final step is to look at what you have made. Review it. Look for the points where you think you lack something and try to make it complete and flawless. If you cannot do it independently, you can ask the parents and other educators for their opinions. After getting feedback, you can make the much-needed changes.
By following these steps, you can easily develop a perfect curriculum. Surely these are the steps that are being relied upon by most individuals when they are in the process of developing a curriculum.
How to Assess the Effectiveness of Early Childhood Education?
To evaluate the effectiveness of Early Childhood Education, you need to consider the following steps:
● STEP 1
Before you start implementing your curriculum, you should have some pre-planned aims that you wish to achieve with this curriculum. These aims should not be based on your personal desires rather they should be based upon the necessities of the children you teach.
● STEP 2
You should use reliable methods for evaluating the knowledge of each of your students. You can rely upon the methodology of using qualitative and quantitative assessment techniques to understand a child’s psyche. In this way, you can easily assess the growth of a child. First, you should observe the activities and behavior of every student. You should make separate documentation for each student consisting of their submitted answers to projects. Set a rating standard to distinguish between each student’s work quality.
● STEP 3
You should have records of each student’s progress for each skill separately. For instance, you should have a separate record for each student’s literacy and language, social development, emotional development, and cognitive development. You should set a scale to measure each student’s progress in this format.
● STEP 4
Instead of declaring your curriculum good or bad, you should ask the parents, the educators, and the stakeholders for their opinions. In this way, you will get much more detailed feedback that will assist you in improving your curriculum and making the much-needed changes.
● STEP 5
After you have done collecting the feedback from the parents, the teachers, and the stakeholders, now you should start analyzing it, and determining whether your curriculum is on the right path or not. The best way to evaluate the feedback you received is by comparing it with the feedback your competitors received.
● STEP 6
After the comparison, you can evaluate which portion of your curriculum needs the most improvement and which one requires the least. You can store this data for making decisions in the future as well. In this way, you can get continuous improvement in your curriculum.
● STEP 7
The final step is to stay informed of the current trends and the latest techniques that are being introduced in the field of early childhood education. With time, you should be ready to accept new methodologies and ways to teach the students.
After following these simple seven steps, you will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of early childhood education in the most precise manner. These are the universal steps that are being followed by almost all the individuals that are somehow involved in the process of developing and evaluating the effectiveness of the curriculum.
In the passages above, we have tried to discuss almost every aspect of Early Childhood Education and its curriculum. It was basically aimed to enlighten the concept of Early Childhood Education, the process of developing the curriculum, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of the curriculum. Through this article, we have come to know what makes a curriculum successful, what makes the curriculum effective, and most importantly, you will learn how to develop a curriculum.