Just because it’s time for the kids to start learning doesn’t mean they have to stop playing. In fact, if you choose the curriculum for your preschool wisely, they won’t even notice the difference.
In this article, HoppingIn will review the most common questions that pop up when selecting a curriculum for your preschool, and help you pick what works best for you.
No two kids are the same, and neither are preschools.
Work vs Play
When first approaching the subject of curriculum, consider whether you want the teacher to be the one in charge, or the kids.
With academic-based curricula, it’s the teacher who leads kids and more often than not, holds classes similar to lectures. This is a good way of making sure that they are learning in a way we’ve all gotten used to, but the children are passive in that situation and it can result in boredom and lack of attention.
When it comes to play-based curricula, it’s more adapted to the way children already behave. All the work is structured as play and more attention is paid to the children subconsciously obtaining knowledge through activities.
No matter what approach you choose, be aware of age and abilities. While academic-based approach is good for introducing them to discipline and helping them manage themselves in a classroom, play is how children naturally learn.
Buy vs DIY
Although we recommend that you pay attention to what the professionals suggest, if you’re a preschool owner with more mileage and educated staff, you might look into making your own curriculum.
Like we always say – no two children are the same, and a lot can vary from group to group, so if you know how your preschoolers work and what they respond best to, cater the lesson plans to their learning style.
You can always purchase pre-made curricula approved by experts if you find that they work for you. There are different lesson plans with different activities, leaving you the only task of implementing them.
If you opt for the purchased route, make sure that the lesson plans are clear enough and offer a plethora of activities you can easily add on to.
If you want to make your own curriculum, review the professionals’ curricula and the state standards for preschool. It’s always good to plan the units divided into individual lessons in advance so you can modify them if necessary.
Best curricula (no matter if purchased or made) adapt to the children’s needs and your abilities as a teacher. Every preschool has their philosophy when it comes to childcare, so make sure that the curriculum you select fits yours.
One Size Fits All vs Individual Approach
Learning styles typically follow us from childhood to adulthood. What matters most for every child’s development in preschool is to ascertain which type of learner they are.
Physical/didactic learners prefer activity and engagement. The best way to help them grasp knowledge is to let them do something themselves. In case of nature and society units, it’s great to incorporate sensory input in the form of having professionals visit and going out for a field trip.
Visual learners love seeing and drawing. The best approach to teaching them is to allow them to get as much visual input as possible. With the kids’ penchant for drawing and colorful pictures, they’re one of the easiest to work with.
Auditory learners are best suited to academic-based curricula because they process information much faster when they hear it and talk about it.
Of course, some children learn well with all three approaches while others have more specific needs, but what matters here is adjusting your teaching style.
While one-size-fits-all approach is great for simple lessons that will more or less work well with everyone, incorporating individual approach allows every child to fully develop in their own way.
Classroom vs the World
Much like in life, learning happens everywhere. With the kids being as curious as they are, making use of that will help your lessons be more engaging.
For example, taking the kids on a field trip is always a good way to help them learn more about the world around them. No matter if you are taking them to a museum or a petting zoo, field trips open up the world for them and allow them to be active while learning.
If you don’t have the ability to take them out, you can bring the world into your classroom, even if it’s just with documentary movies or well-staged role play. Sometimes this can be due to the number of children in the group and less teachers than necessary, in which case it might be good to look into ways of generating extra revenue.
How Do You Know?
While we focused on examining vastly different approaches to curricula in this article, you can absolutely mix and match. Some units will call for academic-based approach while others can’t work unless they are hands-on. But no matter what route you go for, you’ll know a good curriculum when it gives you ideas.
That’s why it’s always good to consult other curricula – even if you’re making your own. It’s all about the ideas that every tip or new activity can give you. Some of them may not work for the group you are teaching, while others will be absolute gold.
Whatever you choose, keep your teaching and the kids’ learning style in mind. At the end of the day, all that matters is that they had fun and got out of your preschool knowing more than they did in the morning.
Author: Hopping In Blog
Sholom Strick is an expert on the business of running daycare centers and founder of Hopping In, a tool that helps childcare centers and family daycare providers fill unused spots.
To contact him or for media inquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org