NAEYC Criteria for High Quality Curriculum
B-1 Long range, written curriculum plan
This is included in our Parent and Student Handbooks, under the Philosophy and Curriculum sections. Curriculum is described as an ongoing plan of action, based on our philosophy and the needs of children enrolled in the program, and is not seen as a predetermined and fixed set of information. At the same time, teachers cooperate to design a program of weekly topics or themes, which are then implemented by individual teachers to fit the needs of children in their group. Weekly lesson plans are written and posted, and include activities planned and carried out by students.
B-2 Curriculum goals based on assessment
Teachers collect information on each child, including anecdotal records, work samples, checklists, photos and other information to be shared with parents, in a portfolio collection which is reflective of a child's development. Insterests of children are also assessed, and used in planning activities.
B-3a Modifications for special needs
All children are considered to have special needs, and consideration is made for each child's individual development.
B-3b Appropriate professional referrals
Whenever needed, parents are referred to other professionals for physical, social and emotional or other kinds of needs which cannot fully be met by the program. Current information is kept and shared with families as needs arise.
B4a Balance of indoor/outdoor play
Every session includes large blocks of outdoor play with a variety of activities provided, including dramatic play, art, and other activities typically provided in the classroom. The outdoors is used as an extension of curriculum provided indoors.
B4b Balance of quiet/active play
Each day's lesson plan includes alternating quiet and active periods.
B4c Balance of individual/small/large group
The daily schedule provides opportunities for children to work and play alone, in small groups (which are sometimes teacher directed), and in a large group setting for brief periods of time as appropriate to individual children.
B5a Multi-racial, non-sexist materials
Multi-racial, non-sexist materials include dolls, games, puppets, books, posters, and art materials. In addition, teacher address fairness issues as they arise, act as models through their behavior, and encourage children to view all activities as appropriate for either gender.
B5d Appropriate materials for preschoolers
A wide selection of materials are provided which encourage each child's physical, social, emotional and cognitive development through play.
B7a Fostering positive self-concept
The curriculum includes activities and materials which focus on body awareness, autonomy, caring relationships with peers, teachers and families and an acceptance of differences.
B7b Development of social skills
The curriculum provides support for the development of social skills through play and with appropriate teacher guidance, and also through activities developed specifically to foster these skills.
B7c Encouragement of thinking, reasoning, questioning
Materials are provided which do not have one right answer, and dittos and work sheets are not used. A discovery approach is the basis for teaching, and children are given opportunities to solve real problems, both cognitive and social. Open-ended questioning is used, and the teacher acts as a facilitator rather than a lecturer.
B7d Encouragement of language development
Children talk throughout the day, with teachers serving as appropriate models without dominating language activities. Real objects and hands-on materials, rather than pictures, serve as topics for discussion. A rich literacy environment is provided, and children have many opportunities to develop emergent literacy skills through playful activities.
B7e Enhancement of physical development
Daily plans include a variety of indoor and outdoor activities which allow for the development of large motor skills. Physical development is integrated into cognitive and social aspects of the curriculum and are not considered in isolation.
B7f Encouragement of health, safety, nutrition
A health and safety manual delineates program policies, including frequent hand washing, fire and tornado drills etc. These and other aspects of health and safety are included in lesson plans. Children learn good nutrition through participation in regularly planned cooking activities.
B7h Respect for cultural diversity
Adults act as models for children through their fair treatment of other staff, parents and children in the program. Multi-cultural activities are included in the curriculum on a regular basis, and fairness issues are addressed.
B8 Materials and time to select own activity
Children are allowed to select their own activites, both indoors and outdoors, for a majority of each day.
B9 Smooth and unregimented transitions
Teachers use transition activities, fingerplays, songs, classification games, etc., to move children through the daily schedule. Children move from one activity to another without lining up.
B10 Staff are flexible to changes in plans\routines
While activities are carefully planned, teachers change them when necessary to meet the needs of the children. Time may be shortened or lengthened based on children's interest level, and an activity may be put aside because of an unexpected but more relevant occurrence.
B11 Routines are handled in an individual manner
Children use the restroom, get a drink of water, etc., as individual needs arise.
ADDITIONAL IDEAS TO KEEP IN MIND
Group times for young children should be relatively short. If kids don't pay attention or respond well to what you are doing, consider whether it is interesting enough, relevant, or just too long. Prepare a number of transition activities (we have lots of resources) to add variety. Questions can be overdone, particularly short answer, one-right-answer types. Open-ended questions give every child a chance to contribute their own experiences and thoughts.
Encourage early literacy attempts during play activities on a daily basis. Add props, signs, messages, etc., to each center, as appropriate, and include them in all dramatic play activities. Older children sometimes enjoy making big books, which they can dictate to you and to which they may be able to add drawings (this is more likely to happen when it comes from the child's experience than if it is teacher initiated). Consider activites which focus on all four aspects of language-- listening, speaking, reading, writing (add "pre-" to the last two, if that feels more comfortable to you). Language experience charts and lists can also be fun for kids. Consider having them typed by the CDL office, (names first, "MiMi said", in big, bold print), and kids can "read" back their part. Parents are impressed by this kind of activity as well.
Children should not be asked to "make" what they have seen when they are still in a non-representational stage of art. Please make sure this is not incorporated in weekly or daily plans. Children can be greatly encouraged, however, by comments about line, color, shape, etc. As children begin to want to draw representationally, they should be encouraged to do so, but with the focus on "drawing it the way you want to". The enjoyment should come from the process, and from our interest in the child's activity, not on our comments about the product. Leave art activities for the art area and not as a part of concepts you are trying to get across--usually this will make them teacher-directed and therefore uncreative. Too often, children "perform" these activities as well as they can to our expectations to order to please us, but it usually isn't enjoyable or profitable for them.
Think about appropriate science and math activities which can be integrated into the theme for the week. Almost every topic has a related scientific aspect, whether it is transportation, things in nature, clothing, etc. Also include activities which give kids a chance to rote count, use ordinal numbers, sort, order, match, etc. These can be done as transition activities as well as during small group time, and can also be related to the theme being used.
Think of all the places you and/or children go in a week, and which ones might be appropriate for children to "act out". Plan prop boxes for outdoors as well as indoors, and ask for materials if you can't find what you need on our shelves. If every teacher and student made one prop box in a semester, the children would be provided with rich opportunities for social and cognitive growth.