Indicators of Effective Curriculum
An effective early childhood curriculum ensures the growth, learning, development, and overall success of each child. To help create a standard for effective curriculum, The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) partnered with the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS/SDE) to create a list of indicators of effective curriculum. The overall goal for effective curriculum is to “implement curriculum that is thoughtfully planned, challenging, engaging, developmentally appropriate, culturally and linguistically responsive, comprehensive, and likely to promote positive outcomes for all young children” (NAEYC, 2009, paragraph 3).
Indicators of effective curriculum include sharing clear goals, engaging children, and intentional teaching with benefits to the children. Curriculum should be evidence-based and developmentally appropriate. “Regardless of what age group is served, what philosophy is followed, or what curriculum model is used, these indicators of effective curriculum are relevant to any early childhood curriculum” (Gadzikowski, 2013, chapter 4.2). We focus on developmentally appropriate and evidence-based practices as well as hands-on, engaging activities and learning experiences to align with these standards. Our program also utilizes ethical assessments and evaluations to monitor the progress of the children as well as the effectiveness of the curriculum.
Program and Practices
Even though this is a before and after school program, I still utilize and implement developmentally appropriate practices and integrate an inclusive and engaging curriculum. My focus is on social-emotional development, conflict resolution, and life skills. The children spend their day in school learning the academics side of life and I try to add a bit of balance to that by allowing them to experience and learn about life, the roller coaster it sometimes is, and how to deal with the ups and downs.
I also realize that when they step off that afternoon bus, they need to just be kids for a few minutes. I incorporate free play time as well as organized games and activities to help let the kids unwind a bit after school. Time is provided for them to work on their homework and help them as needed. Each week there are a different activities, games, books, or projects planned for them which will teach them different skills, academics, and foster development.
Developmentally appropriate practice requires getting to know the children, meeting them where they are, then inspiring them to reach goals that are both challenging and achievable. Children are naturally curious and benefit from hands-on learning experiences. I try to help them think outside the box so they can see and make connections across a range of subjects and content. Exploration, investigation, and problem-solving is strongly encouraged. The children are engaged by using topics and content that is interesting to them.