Emergent curriculum is one of my favorite topics to discuss because there are endless areas of learning stemming from this approach to education. My last blog focused more on the way I perceive emergent curriculum in response to children’s play and dialogue. This blog post is more of a focus on other ways in which I draw upon children’s thoughts to design and implement curriculum.
A child enters preschool with a lot of early life experience and knowledge. In order for me to tap into that knowledge I pay close attention to what a child says to me. The center of every child’s universe is his/ her family. So of course each child will have unique experiences pertaining to the time spent at home with family, extended family, such as cousins, and friends/ neighbors. Sometimes children will burst open about all they do when they are away from school. Other times a child may be more of an introvert and need a little bit of coaxing to open up. Specific questions like, “Who did you play with at home?” “Did you go anywhere with your family yesterday?” Sometimes when I ask questions I get more information about a child’s likes, dislikes and information that helps me create and set up learning experiences based off of not only a child’s interests, but what their personality would be drawn to.
The more times I am able to engage in conversation with a child or listen to his/ her conversation with others, I am able to form questions and ideas to extend learning and challenge each child. The life experiences children choose to share can help me draw out the “story-teller” in each child. I enjoy helping children recognize imaginary from real as they develop not only their oral story-telling abilities, but their artistic representations of those same experiences. Sometimes when a child is first trying to tell stories, the stories are a mixture of both imaginary and fact. As I write a child’s words, I can ask more questions or make statements that guide the child to telling me what really happened or what they imagined happened. The more times we revisit these concepts, the more competent the child will become in his/ her ability to differentiate between imaginary and real. Listening to what young children say is so vital for understanding what my role is in helping this child achieve each of his/her learning goals for the year.
Emergent curriculum is a process containing elements of listening, watching, interacting and documenting. Following this process is gathering materials, resources, and implementation of the curriculum designed with all the information the child has given me. I am always learning from children and my teaching environment is a “third teacher” in the sense that it supports every aspect of early learning. The classroom is a space that changes as children grow and learn. Every child will impart some aspect of his/ her personality into the classroom and enable learning to continue and be challenged at every level. Learning is a life long process. Emergent curriculum keeps teaching and learning fresh for all of us. That is how I view emergent curriculum.
If you too are an Early Learning Teacher and have any experiences with emergent curriculum please share! I would love to read all about it! Please share this post and lets keep the conversation going!
Heidi Scott, BA & MIT
The Marigold School of Early Learning