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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Implementing Curriculum through the Planning/Observation/Individualization Cycle 31 curricular strategies. Chapter 8 focuses on the integration of curriculum planning and assessment. Conclusion Curriculum is everything that goes on in a program from the moment a child arrives until she leaves. Teachers plan, implement, observe, reflect, and make adjustments based on individual children’s needs and the needs of the group. Curriculum is an ongoing process that requires teachers to think about child development, observe how the children in their class- room are learning and growing, and make hundreds of decisions about the best ways to help them reach their full potential. Six elements of curriculum are embedded in the ongoing planning/ observation/individualization process and contribute to its successful implementation. Some of these elements are unique to early childhood education. Preschool and kindergarten teachers know that young children learn differently than older children. These elements reflect that knowledge by emphasizing the importance of play, child initiation, and warm relation- ships with children and families. When these elements are not attended to in a classroom, teachers will see changes in the children’s behavior and engagement: children may act out in frustration; behavior problems may occur frequently; and children may complain about activities, refuse to cooperate fully with teachers, and lose their enthusiasm for learning. Joy should be a part of early childhood education. Young children’s enthusiasm, curiosity, and exploratory nature should be celebrated and treasured. When curriculum is limited to a box, a book, or a set of mate- rials, teachers may find that they are missing precious opportunities to enhance children’s learning and nourish their joy. By looking at curricu- lum as everything that happens, by focusing on the planning/observation/ individualization process, and by including the elements identified above, preschool and kindergarten teachers will be more in tune with the nature of young children and will find their curricular practices match the chil- dren’s learning styles more closely. Through their observations, reflections, adjustments, and accommodations, teachers will make sure that joyful learning is happening throughout their program day. In the next chapter, we will look at frameworks for planning and reflection that capture the el- ements of quality preschool and kindergarten curriculum and help teach- ers record all that they do on behalf of children. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Sue: “The definition of curriculum to be all-inclusive to what happens all day long is so true, yet often overwhelming and hard to put into words. The process and essential elements make it seem less daunting or haphazard. The success of this curricular approach is a very responsive and personal curriculum tailored for the individuals and group at that time.” Lauren: “The planning/ observation/individual­ ization cycle gives weight to all of the hard work that teachers put into their teaching. It will help preschool and kindergarten teachers feel like professionals.”