Emergent Curriculum

The curriculum we develop follows an emergent curriculum style and pulls inspiration from the many philosophies listed above. This style is based on the student’s interests and passions. Emergent Curriculum materializes from the adult and child’s interactions. Teachers look for teachable events and moments throughout the day. Planning an Emergent Curriculum requires a lot of observation, documentation and creative brainstorming on the teacher’s part. The curriculum style allows our teachers to be open and receptive to the children in our care.

The key is for teachers to be flexible, creative and patient with the children and to see the children as capable and adept learners. Our curriculum gives children the opportunity to make decisions, be creative, learn actively and solve problems. Our program is based on developmentally appropriate practices. We believe that children must be challenged, but not overwhelmed.

What is Emergent Curriculum?

Emergent Curriculum is a nontraditional style of teaching that presents children with the gift of discovering the world around them by encouraging them to explore life through their own interests and passions. It is “child lead” or “child based” learning opposed to “teacher directed” learning. To implement Emergent Curriculum successfully within a classroom requires creativity, flexibility, observation, documentation, and patience.

What is the Role of an Educator?

Educators encompass many roles in the profession of Early Childhood Education, however within a childcare setting that promotes Emergent Curriculum, educators take on the role of “co-learners” instead of head teachers. They are challenged to be sensitive and show a genuine openness to the children’s interests and ideas. As a result of following the lead of the children the educators then create a stimulating environment with the hope to further each individual child’s exploration and learning on a certain topic. The educators collect and present the children with as much information as they can gather, revealing it through experiences such as: visuals, art activities, webs, stories, circle times, songs, field trips, and guest speakers.

Consequentially the educators strive to expose the children to as many “hands on” experiences as possible. The educator’s objective through this method of teaching is to nurture positive social skills, encourage creative problem solving, support the developmental growth of a child and build a solid foundation from which children can stand on during their life.

How is Emergent Curriculum Beneficial to a Child’s Development?

Emergent Curriculum validates a child’s curiosity in learning and enables them to follow their passions. It lets them have the character building satisfaction of discovering by oneself. Emergent Curriculum focuses on a child’s strengths while improving on their areas of weaknesses. It reassures them that being unique and having an individual personality is a lifelong asset. It helps to create confident, self-assured children who are hungry to learn about the world around them.

Developmentally Appropriate Practices

In the childcare world you will hear the term DAP used often. The term refers to developmentally appropriate practices which work to make sure a program and curriculum is age and development appropriate. We need to be familiar with the ages and stages of children, culture and family backgrounds, and each child’s individuality. Our programs must not be too complicated for children and at the same time it should be challenging enough to keep the children involved and interested.

The materials and experiences that we provide for children should be within their current abilities but present some challenge. It is important to empower children by providing opportunities for them to succeed. If items are too complicated for them the child will get very frustrated and this kind of frustration repeated can lead to poor self-esteem. Teachers should have goals for each individual child. While it is very important to look at the development of the group as a whole, it is probably even more important to see each child as an individual. A good teacher needs to provide experiences that are within a child’s learning level but are also challenging to the child. We need to embrace what children are truly capable of and not hold them back. We also need to make sure we are not pushing them too far too fast also. The key to DAP is learning this balance.

Questions to ask to ensure DAP in the classroom:

  • Is the activity based on an interest you’ve seen or heard from the children?
  • Is it suitable for the children of this age?
  • Is it suitable for the individual children of the group?
  • Can it be expanded by the children?
  • Is it fun?
  • Does it actively engage the child to do, explore or create?
  • Does it avoid causing boredom or frustration?
  • Are materials in the class age appropriate and in good repair
  • Is the classroom arranged in a way that compliments the children’s development?

Arts and Crafts

  • Emphasize the process not the end product
  • Let children explore materials
  • Let children come up with their own ideas and use materials creatively
  • Do NOT use models or samples for the children

Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning. -Mr. Rogers

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