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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 14 Chapter One words, and they often use their bodies to communicate; their verbal com- munication skills and vocabulary cannot yet keep pace with the intense emotions they experience over short periods of time. Preschool and kindergarten children need a number of outlets to express their physical energy, to manipulate objects for learning, and to try things out for themselves. The classroom environment needs to provide opportunities for movement, exploration, and hands-on manipulation of objects. Teachers must carefully evaluate the daily schedule to make sure sitting and listening times are briefer than times for hands-on activities. And they must provide daily outdoor time to meet children’s need to run, jump, and climb. Preschool and kindergarten teachers must do all of this in the name of curriculum. Defining Curriculum Kathy: “Curriculum is so much more than a book or a kit—very straightforwardly, it’s everything.” Laura: “I think it’s very helpful to say curriculum is in everything. I have seen teachers say they understand this natural process, but it is not always being put into practice. Perhaps they don’t trust it enough.” Defining curriculum in preschool and kindergarten classrooms is difficult. It entails so many more things than a literacy lesson or a science activity. Publishers have produced curriculum kits, curriculum books, curriculum materials, as well as curricular frameworks and approaches. I propose that none of these completely captures what happens between a skilled early childhood practitioner and her children—whether in a two and one-half hour program or in a full-day one. Curriculum is everything that goes on in a program, from the moment a child arrives until she leaves. Her experi- ence throughout the time she is there impacts her learning and success. Curriculum cannot be limited to a box, a book, or a set of materials. It’s a dynamic process of implementing plans and observing what happens. A teacher plans engaging activities and experiences for children—that’s where the box, book, or materials may contribute. As she implements those plans, she observes to determine the success and involvement of each individual child as well as the success and involvement of the whole group. Based on what she observes, she makes adjustments—sometimes immediately, right in the moment, and sometimes after time has passed and she’s reflected on what occurred. Skilled teachers are reflective more than reactive. They are thoughtful and intentional. They are observant and flexible. And the curriculum they implement is an evolving process of integrated teacher actions that take place in an ongoing cycle. The follow- ing graphic identifies five important steps in the curriculum process. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL