The Role of Play in Education: Numerous child-development researchers hold that play is one of the primary channels through which young children develop and learn about the world. Through play, children learn how things work and how they can interact with them. Play is central to our method of curriculum development- and-approach, or emergent curriculum.
Curriculum: The curriculum is based on “The Creative Curriculum for Preschools.” The Director and the teachers are continually tailoring this curriculum to meet the specific needs of our children. Curriculum will also be developed, based on the class developmental stages of readiness. In addition, all Pre-K classes implement the Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards of four-year olds.
Social/Emotional Development: This area will focus on getting along with others, appropriate behaviors, individual responsibilities with cleaning up, personal hygiene, dressing, snack preparation, playing in groups and expressing feelings with words.
Cognitive Growth: This area includes learning through experiences in the areas of problem solving, enhancing memory, understanding the five senses, objects and relationships, listening and comprehension skills, writing and experiencing the surrounding world.
Language Development: Learning in this area will center on listening and speaking, following directions, vocabulary, using language to solve problems and resolve conflicts, discovering the importance of both written and spoken language as well as individual skill development as each child demonstrates readiness.
Physical Development: Children will have opportunities both in the classroom and outside, to work on gross motor skills including climbing, sliding, carrying, running, balancing, kicking and throwing. Fine motor skills will be honed through small manipulative materials such water tables, clay, paint, wood and other various craft materials. Finger puppet play, body awareness through song and dance and creative movement activities will also be available.
Creativity and Self Expression: Children will develop imagination through dramatic play, different art mediums, music and making their own activity choices.
Judaic and Jewish Culture: We provide a warm, heimisch, Jewish extended family atmosphere. Judaic tradition and culture are integrated into the learning environment throughout the week at appropriate interest and age levels. Throughout the year, Jewish holidays are celebrated, and Shabbat is celebrated at the end of every week. A regular Shabbat celebration takes place every Friday. Parents are invited every week to celebrate with us.
Daily Schedule: Each classroom maintains an independent daily schedule based on the developmental needs of the class. However, several elements are present in all classroom schedules: quiet and active times, individual and group times, snack, and outdoor play. Daily schedules for each class are displayed in each room.
What is emergent curriculum? Young children learn by doing, touching, experimenting, choosing, talking, and negotiating. Everything is potential curriculum for young children. Emergent curriculum is planning what happens in the classroom and the focus of learning through interaction between teachers and children, with both contributing ideas and reacting to them to build engaging and worthwhile units of study. Our curriculum approach builds on interests that emerge from our daily lives with the children. The children provide the ideas that form a foundation for activities and units of study that are then prepared, organized, coordinated, and facilitated by the teachers. Emergent curriculum describes curriculum that develops from exploring what is "socially relevant, intellectually engaging, and personally meaningful to children.... As caring adults, we make choices for children that reflect our values; at the same time we keep our plans open-ended and responsive to children" (Jones and Nimmo, 1994). Emergent curriculum arises naturally from adult-child and child-child interactions that create "teachable moments." It connects learning with experience and prior learning. It responds to children's immediate interests rather than focusing on a narrow, individual, or calendar driven topic. It is process rather than product driven. The curriculum is typically implemented after an idea emerges from the group of children.
Planning the curriculum in each classroom is based on:
- Knowledge of child development;
- Understanding of developmentally appropriate practices and the guidelines in The Connecticut Framework: Preschool Curricular Goals and Benchmarks;
- Sensitivity to individual children's personal experiences and interests; and the knowledge that children learn through first-hand observation, play and direct experience.
Learning centers are set up in the classrooms so that small groups and individual children can choose to explore constantly varying materials related to the study of math, science, art, and language, while teachers observe and interact with the children and the materials. This freedom to act upon their own interests, in their own ways contributes to the successful development of children's self-esteem.
In addition to children's interests and teacher's experience, there are several other sources of emergent curriculum (Jones & Nimmo).
- The Project Approach: It is well known that children learn best through hands-on, relevant activities such as projects. The Project Approach, a specific kind of project-based learning, refers to a set of teaching strategies that enable our teachers to guide their students through in-depth studies of real-world topics. Projects have a complex but flexible framework within which learning is seen as interactive processes. When teachers implement the Approach successfully, students feel highly motivated and actively involved in their own learning, leading them to produce high-quality work and to grow as individuals and collaborators. A project is an in-depth investigation of a real-world topic chosen by the group as a whole, which fosters the students need to find success and fulfillment in the current (and future) world.
- We view curriculum as everything that happens during our time with the children. We believe that each moment offers opportunities to explore relationships and to create a community that nurtures children, teachers, and families. Each moment holds a range of feelings and interests. There are always questions to pursue, hypotheses to investigate, and discoveries to celebrate. Curriculum happens all day, in every routine, action, interaction, and rearrangement of the room.