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Preschool classroom’s fosters an exploratory play environment for children ages four to five to prepare students for private school kindergarten courses and utilizes North Carolina kindergarten standards to develop curriculum. Cumberland County public school system does not have the best reputation for educating students and has created a need for more private schools. Currently, we only offer a preschool program but plan to expand into the elementary school ages. As the new school year approaches I will be redesigning the classroom environment and curriculum by incorporating theories from Reggio Emilia, Creative Curriculum, and High Scope Curriculum along with including state standard activities to cover the main concepts for the core subjects to prepare for Kindergarten.
Classroom environment and teaching strategies will incorporate philosophies and theories from Reggio Emilia, Creative Curriculum, High Scope Curriculum, and Piaget’s theory into a comprehensive curriculum design for preschoolers. When developing curriculum it is important for this age group to have several approaches. “Children ages 3–8 benefit from planned, teacher-guided, interactive small-group and large- group experiences” (NAEYC, 2009). “Reggio Emilia programs demonstrate how planning an environment is driven by respect for the rights of the child to a beautiful welcoming space that promotes relationships and attention to detail” (Jaruszewicz. 2012). Emergent curriculum introduces topics of study where lessons are child initiated and theme based on student’s interest.
Another belief that I have started to practice is the importance of learned centered activities. I believe that with the environment being set up properly it can expand learning and gives me the opportunity to use emergent curriculum that “stems directly from children’s stated and implied interests and needs (Estes 2010).” Teachers use their careful and sensitive listening, observe and document process, reflect with the parents, and serve as resources and guides. In the art studio area, teachers encourage children to express their thoughts through different arts. We invite the students to explore, problem solve, work in small groups and document the progress to later reflect and make the learning visible (Edwards, C. P., 2002). Classroom space should all have separate organized areas with size appropriate structures, tables, and chairs.
This curriculum is considered emergent because the topics of study and time frames are not predetermined allowing the child to develop and learn through interest and questions (Jaruszewicz, 2012). There are areas that include art to allow for free expression and dramatic play through centers. I think it is important to include the different areas of cooking, music and movement, outdoors, reading, sand and water, art, dramatic play, blocks, and playing with toys and games throughout the classroom as both free play and teacher directed activities. Children in this environment are surrounded by natural lightening and include both indoor and outdoor activities.
This approach revolves around project work and typically in a classroom setting the subjects are through themes and determined whether teacher, child, or group initiated. His primarily philosophy is that it’s not a set planned written curriculum but the education is based on things that interest them without time standards in learning the topics. Essentially, Reggio Emilia teachers construct displays how children learn during long-term project work. The displays include images, scripts of children’s words, teacher reflection, and examples of children’s work (Jaruszewicz, 2012). The work is hung up in the classroom to be seen by the parents and students.
Creative Curriculum has very similar learning objectives and learning areas as High Scope Curriculum. Some basic principles include: positive interactions and relationships, social/emotional competence, constructive, purposeful play, physical environment and teacher-family partnerships (Jaruszewicz, C. 2012). The environment and classroom space are separated into ten center areas that help enhance hands on activities with learning materials and manipulatives. These centers include: blocks, dramatic play, toys and games, art, sand and water tables, library (reading center), discovery (science), music and movement, cooking, and outdoor activities. Activity areas are designed to support the specific learning objectives.
Similar to Reggio Emilia’s approach teachers assess the students learning and base curriculum off their interests and pace. The creative curriculum approach measures incremental progress to communicate the child’s growth through benchmarks through the learning objectives. While my current teaching approach is more creative curriculum and high scope based there are still elements I think should be controlled by the adults such as; environment, assessment, adult-child interactions, and daily routine (Jaruszewicz, 2012). High Scope Curriculum incorporates important goals to include thinking about actions and interactions, problem solving, and self-directed learning. High Scope uses “Key Developmental Indicators” and separated into eight different categories. The first category is approaches to learning with recognizing problem solving skills.
Social and emotional develop begin to grow with recognizing and controlling emotions through empathy, play, and relationships. Physical development and health is measured through gross and fine motor skills, writing, drawing, and personal care. A few more indicators include communication, cognitive development, creative arts, science, and social studies. “High Scope teachers carefully label shelves and other storage and play areas, helping children to develop independence and responsibility but also providing prompts that reinforce key indicator concepts such as matching numbers with quantity” (Jaruszewicz, C. 2012).
Activities that could be used as teaching methods under this theory in the core subjects are organized by enforcing daily routines. We have intentional teaching and use routines and transitions. As we play in centers we will have specific materials and items to play with that go along with the theme and then later for group or circle time are able to debrief the children and reflect to share the work.
North Carolina has standards for kindergartners that I believe these should begin to introduced and practiced in preschool. To have a finer understanding and familiarity with math, science, reading, and the fine arts they are incorporated into the daily routine. “In Kindergarten, instructional time should focus on two critical areas: (1) representing and comparing whole numbers, initially with sets of objects; (2) describing shapes and space” (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2014). During the preschool years the primary goal for numbers and operations is developing number sense. The fundamental concept is one-to one-correspondence that is incorporated with matching games and number sequence counting.
Other concepts are symbolic representation, classification, ordering, patterns, geometry, shapes, measurements, currency, and data analysis (Jaruszewicz, 2012). Using the creative curriculum I would cut out different shapes for the students and allow them to glue the shapes to build a house. We also can cut out different colored shapes and match the shapes to a sheet of paper the shapes outlines on them practicing both shapes and colors. Using the High Scope I would choses a different shape each week and introduce a lot of items using the same shape in the different centers to include the art area and blocks. An activity for classification can be sorting and grouping different colors and shapes together. While we are sorting and grouping together we can count in sequence for the quantity and then write the number below the amount.
This activity will help with the standards of number names and count sequence and incorporate place value with double digit numbers. Preschoolers experiment with reading and writing as they make sense of print and letter recognition. From the ages of three to five children are learning alphabetic sounds and letter recognition. Sounding out words using phonics but primarily being read to during the preschool years and listening helps children learn to read. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC and the International Reading Association Pre-K developers focus on four major elements of literacy that lead to reading and writing proficiency: oral language, phonemic awareness, concepts about print, and emergent writing (Jaruszewicz, 2012).
While it is important to allow individual reading and group reading at this age it is important to have a reading center with an array of books available. While at the age of four most students are not able to read independently they do enjoy looking at books. I would read books both individually one and one and with groups to incorporate guided reading. For group time, I prefer to use the larger books and use a pointer to guide as I am reading each work. I also will encourage pretend writing to help with these concepts. Each student will have a journal and I will have them draw a picture and pretend write to explain what the drawing is about. Teaching physical and earth science is easy for preschooler since they are naturally about nature and really only requires taking the children outside to play and asking questions about observations.
Teaching primarily facilitate learning and scientific learning through both informal and structured facilitated investigations. During this age group, it’s learning everyday concepts through play and help structured thinking and logic (Jaruszewicz, 2012). Depending on the student’s interest and theme that is planned, a simple science activity could include the topic of solid, liquid, and gases. We could use a water table and see what objects float and sink and make sure the students understand the concepts of each topic. Solids stay the same shape that they are and liquids take the shape of their container. Solids can also change forms and become a liquid which eating a pop sicle outside on a hot day or watching an ice cube melt is one of our favorite activities. For early preschoolers ages three to four we have a lot of fun learning colors and using the rainbow.
Using creative curriculum we make rainbow with cotton balls and construction paper. As a science activity we use prisms to reflect the light to see the rainbows and utilize rainy days to search for rainbows in the sky. The art center is a great place to incorporate play but also to teach about colors. I typically only have one to two colors at each station and bring in each color separately or rotate amongst the small groups. We practice mixing colors to make other colors and begin understanding primary colors. My preschool incorporates arts into all aspects of curriculum to include music, creative movement, drama, art, drawing, and painting. NC State Standards include use of the visual arts to communicate effectively by identifying various art materials and tools, create original art that expresses ideas, and recognize various symbols and themes in daily life.
Understanding characteristics of art to include lines, shapes, colors and textures (North Carolina Essential Standards: Kindergarten Visual Arts 2014). Not only do we have centers that have a dramatic play area and designated times for exploratory and imaginary play but songs are used to help with transitions from one task to another. Music is our passion and we strongly believe that music directly affects children’s cognitive development and incorporate a MUSIC TOGETHER program for all of our current students. Music concepts like rhythm, beat, temp, direction, melody, and harmony are taught and we have activities such as concerts, dance groups, and outsource for theater productions for plays.
Children can incorporate music and dance into a show for the parents that we put on the end of each semester and for graduation. We go above and beyond state standards to “Apply the elements of music and musical techniques in order to sing and play music with accuracy and expression” (North Carolina Essential Standards: Kindergarten Music-Essential Standard. 2014). Creating and designing a classroom environment is more than just the physical design and requires well thought out curriculum and a variety of teaching approaches.
For my preschool classroom we incorporate different teaching approaches to better foster a learning environment for the individual child. Specific theories incorporated include Reggio Emilia, High Scope, and Creative Curriculum approach which allows all concepts of teaching to be taught for all students. Having fun innovative teacher directed and child directed activities to cover all the state standard requirements while incorporating these theories creates a great learning environment for our future world leaders.
Common Core State Standards Initiative: Kindergarten Introduction. Retrieved from http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Content/K/introduction/ Edwards, C. P. (2002). Three Approaches from Europe: Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia. Early Childhood Research and Practice, 4(1), 2-14. Retrieved from http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v4n1/edwards.html Estes, LA., Krogh, S. (2012) Pathways to Teaching Young Children: An Introduction to Early Childhood Education. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Jaruszewicz, C. (2012). Curriculum and Methods for Early Childhood Educators. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2009). Key Messages of the Position Statement. Retrieved from http://www.naeyc.org/file/positions/KeyMessages.pdf North Carolina Essential Standards (2014) Kindergarten Music- Essential Standards. Retrieved from http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/acre/standards/new-standards/arts/music/k-8.pdf North Carolina Essential Standards (2014) Kindergarten Visual Arts- Essential Standards. Retrieved from