E is for…
Often when parents are looking for a child care centre place for their baby or young toddler they are mostly concerned about the standards of care which will be afforded their little one. This is a perfectly reasonable priority for children so small but I believe it is also very important for parents to ask questions about the early education program on offer.
Babies and toddlers have so much learning to do, and when parents consider that the child may continue in the centre until they are three, four, or even five years of age, the importance of the education program becomes another important consideration.
There are a number of approaches a centre can adopt when it comes to the learning program. As many Australian child care centres currently promote themselves as using an ‘emergent curriculum’ approach, it is this one that I will discuss in this post.
So what does Emergent Curriculum actually mean?
Emergent Curriculum is an approach to planning which values observing, responding to, expanding, and building upon the existing knowledge, ideas and interests of the children within the group. Instead of adopting a more traditional ‘one sized fits all’ approach to the program where, for example, the educator plans a group of activities for three year olds based on the typical development of three year olds, the educator instead uses the ‘interests’ of the children, families, community and themselves as the substance of the learning program.
‘Interests’ are things, topics and events which fascinate and stimulate the curiosity of the children. The educator takes the interests and combines this with his/her knowledge of child development (the skills, knowledge and behaviours of children in the age group) to form the learning program.
Within a true Emergent Curriculum program, learning emerges through a social environment of children learning with and alongside each other. It is one which supports each child’s unique learning style, interests, special rights, builds on individual strengths and recognises potential.
We have much to learn
To develop this type of early education program a centre must employ qualified child care staff so parents should always inquire about the number of qualified staff who will be working directly with their child.
You can read more about aspects of an Emergent Curriculum in these posts;
- Why it is an important learning approach
- Beliefs about children learning
- Beliefs about the role of the teacher
- More about ‘interests:’ here and here
- One snippet of a learning program