Understanding an Emergent Curriculum
There are many different models of creating a preschool curriculum in Early Childhood Education. At Early Learning Foundations Preschool (ELF), we prescribe to an approach that is called “Emergent Curriculum.”
Emergent Curriculum is an approach that permits learning activities to arise out of each child’s interests, actions, or spontaneous events. Embedded in this framework is the belief that a child’s freedom to act upon the environment in his or her own way is a critical factor in the successful development of self-esteem.
Unlike a “pre-prescribed” or “canned” curriculum; which is the same every year, includes monthly themes and is not intended to be changed by the teacher or the children, an emergent curriculum is designed to fit all of the children in the classroom. Those models are considered less progressive, but can still be found in many NYC Preschools. Educators working under and emergent model use the “drama” of the children’s lives to lead or guide the substance of the learning program.
It is essential to observe the children and listen to their areas of interest. Ideas are then supported or extended as teachers to provide the equipment, books, and learning materials to scaffold that which is emerging from the child. To carry out this approach teachers engage in an ongoing process of planning, analyzing, observing and evaluating the children’s activities, needs and interests. (Jones, 1998)
Early Childhood Educators who implement emergent curriculum do not view themselves as “all knowing experts” who train children, but as co-explorers and co-learners who work alongside the children; guiding and encouraging their discoveries and development. Each day is an adventure that students and teachers embark on together!
By: Vicky McLaughlin, M.Ed
Director of Early Learning Foundations Preschool