In a previous article, we said a good childcare curriculum should be age appropriate and have activities that support communication, language and literacy; social skills and emotional development; exploration and different approaches to learning; development of motor skills; and activities that develop sensory organization. But what does all this mean? Here are six elements that make up the kind of curriculum your child needs to succeed in school and in life.
- An age-appropriate curriculum should be based on researched models of childhood development. A quality childcare center will have a curriculum specific to the level of the children served. This means children should be separated into learning groups, usually different classes, such as those provided by Sparkles. While children progress at different rates, once a child reaches a certain age and ability level, he or she is ready to move to the next curriculum level. It’s important that you speak with your child’s teacher to assess what level your child is at and which classroom is right for your child.
- The curriculum should have activities that support communication, language and literacy skills. These activities should range from structured and unstructured “conversations” with children, formal and informal lessons in pronunciation, storytelling, interaction that involves books and printed materials and engaging play experienced teachers know will help children develop these all important skills.
- A good curriculum will support social skills and emotional development. “Social skills” refers to how children interact with teachers and peers, as well as other adults and children. Emotional development includes the way a child responds to the world in emotionally heathy ways. Children should learn self-esteem, empathy and trust, as well as how to appropriately demonstrate happiness, sadness, anger and other emotions.
- A solid childcare curriculum includes exploration and different approaches to learning. Your child’s curriculum should be developed by professionals who recognize that children learn differently. Therefore, varied activities that engage children in different ways should be part of a daily routine. Imaginative play and art should be included in the curriculum. Learning activities that involve various senses should be incorporated, since human beings can be visual, auditory or tactile learners. It’s important that teachers identify the kinds of learning that appeal to children and adapt activities accordingly.
- Motor skills are the physical movements needed for children to do thing like walk, run, write, and draw. Small and large motor skill development should be encouraged and supported through a varied curriculum that develops the muscles and hand-eye coordination necessary for children to accomplish daily tasks and enjoy a variety of play.
- A curriculum should develop sensory organization. This term usually refers to the way the senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) are translated into perception and ultimately into behavior. For example, soft music might be used to help calm children. Energetic music might be used in teaching children to dance. For sensory organization to develop, a variety of sensory experiences should be incorporated into the curriculum.
Remember that even infants can benefit from a curriculum that includes listening to music, movement and verbal interaction. Ask to look at the curriculum. The staff at Sparkles! will be happy to explain how the Sparkles! curriculum meets the needs of children in their care.