Children are little God sent gifts to mankind

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The minds of our young ones are like soft clay which can be moulded in any shape we desire. As an educator it becomes very important for us to mould it in the right way by giving them right opportunities according to their individual needs which would enhance their intelligence. Curriculum plays an integral role in helping us design the right learning experiences for our learners which would help us accomplish our final goal ie; the "Whole" development of the child.

This essay is an attempt to talk more about developmentally appropriate curriculum and its principles. A detailed explanation about concept and subject web. I have also created a lesson plan for my theme and tried to achieve my objectives of making a 3 year old child understand it by making the learning experience simple and interesting for the young one.

Bredekamp and Rosegrant (1992) defined curriculum as " An organized framework that delinates the content that children are to learn ,the process through which children achieve the identified curricular goals, what teachers do to achieve these goals, and the context in which teaching and learning occur". Each institution has a well-designed framework which has to be followed while designing a curriculum. A framework is a philosophical structure created on the basis of theory, research and past practice which has its appropriate framework materials and resources that can help the curriculum achieve its objective, of the progress for the learner. Framework is not a rigid system but rather an outline to help us to plan a curriculum.

A developmentally appropriate curriculum can be defined as a series of learning process experienced by an apprentice which are designed by a instructor based on the developmental stages of young children. Practically everything that happens in a child's life involves learning, whether openely recognised or not. All planned activities , including classroom work, field trips , play and even everyday rest, sleep and snack time are an important part of an early childhood curriculum. Curriculum needs to be integrated in order to provide an effective learning atmosphere. The teaching techniques of a developmentally appropriate curriculum are based on research on early learning and child development .The curriculum is designed for the age group that they serve, keeping in mind that all children are different ,they behave and react differently .Even the way, they perceive knowledge for the same experience differs from each other. An appropriate , motivating and secured environment becomes a prerequisite for any curriculum to be successful.

Developmentally appropriate classrooms are prearranged to nurture children's learning by giving them concrete , hands-on experience, providing them with materials suitable to their learning age ,allowing them actively explore the environment around . Programs should be designed in such a way that it promotes individual and group activities by respecting each another. Children should also be encouraged to keep a balance between active and quiet movements. There are some important principles we need to follow while designing the curriculum without changing the respective philosophical structure (framework) of the institution.

An enriched environment plays a significant role in curriculum planning. The space, the objects in the space and time organization are each part of the environment. The appropriate learning environment is all of these together. The learning environment should be a reflection of our curriculum. An environment should be able to magnetize the child's attention and create enough curiosity which motivates him to learn new concepts. Materials should be planned in a way that it encourages experiences like dramatic play, music and movement, language, creative expression, outdoor activities for gross motor development ,waterplay etc. It must provide areas for interactive experiences that are challenging yet appropriate for the age group. Child should be able to directly relate to these materials and get a better understanding of the concept which in turn will help us achieve our objective for the curriculum. An educators daily study on how a child performs on each activity helps her in further planning of the curriculum.So it becomes important for us as an provider to give child a complete hands on experience with these various materials which would result in the cognitive, social, emotional, physical and motor development of the child.Eg.For a 3 year old child in order to explain him the concept of shape, it would be better understood by him if we provide him with actual objects representing those particular shape. (For circle we can let him play with ball in outdoor activity which he could directly relate and also learn,for square we could have a cooking session involving square biscuits.)

A developmentally appropriate curriculum should respond quickly to the individual needs of the child. It should permit flexibility for the children and the teachers. All children are different,a child's emotional age may be different that his actual age. A continous observation on the part of the teacher helps her to have a complete knowledge on the strong and weak points of each child. This evaluation becomes an integral part for planning curriculum activities required to strengthen the weak areas of the child. This should be done in a very creative way by building on his self-esteem and individuality.A simple way to explain this is each module or lesson plan of curriculum must be designed in such a manner that it builds up on child's positive area at the same time accepting and improvising on its weak points. This can be done by actively involving the child in the experience choosen by him or by the teacher which would help us to polish his skills.

As we all know that curriculum should not come in a way that it refrains the child to act or think in a particular path which he feels is appropriate.Children need to communicate with their peer, surroundings. They need to explore things around them so that it meets our objective for the curriculum. But while keeping this in mind we should also not forget that there is a reason why organizations have curriculum and its guidelines to follow. While allowing the child to think, act or behave in a manner he wants, an educator has to provide him with certain parameters or rules which he has to follow. The best way would be involving all the children when we are setting guidelines for them to follow. An active participation and suggestions coming straight from the child's mind will result, in forcing him to follow it naturally. Definately their actions will need further observations and guidance but it would be better than if we had them passively involved while laying the rules.This will also help us in certain manner to develop their character which is again very important in social development of the child.

Curriculum should involve experience which help our little masters not only to improve their memorizing skill but also to improve on their skills in problem solving, reasoning, creating. It should consider the prior knowledge the child brings to school from the outside world .The best way a teacher can follow this principle is by making a K-W-L chart. This chart can be explained as a simple approach for the students in recalling what they already know about a certain topic ,what they want to know and finally what they have learnt more about it in the class. This works well for children of all the ages, whether with individual or with groups of students.Eg if students are being taught the topic of Reptiles this table can be introduced first.

What I know about reptiles

What I want to know

What I have learnt

Reptiles only live in water

Types of reptiles

The answers provided by the students need not be the right answers but it is important to gather as much as information about the topic from the student. Then the teacher can correct these answers by explaining him what is right and letting him write what he has learnt.

What I know about reptiles

What I want to know

What I have learnt

Reptiles only live in water

Types of reptiles

Reptiles live on both Land and Water

This helps a child build up on his interpersonal skills, making him more confident .Also grows his learning and listening ability. Such kind of strategies must be involved in the curriculum which promotes learning and independent thinking of the child.

The curriculum content should assist in achieving social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development of the child (P.I.E.S).It should provide enough opportunities for the child to express themselves freely in the given environment. Great amount of importance must also be given to the emotional growth of the child. A happy, cheerful child is in a better state of understanding concepts rather than a gloomy one. A variety of play and learning activities included in the curriculum such as stories, art, music, dramatic play, science, math activity, physical activity add up in the "whole" development of the child.

A Developmentally appropriate curriculum should have a plan to include a childs family in its content. Content has a superior meaning to the child when it allows the child to relate it to the real world experience and to its culture. According to the Reggio Emilia approach, "Parents are a vital component in any aspect of child's curriculum". It should be an enjoyable learning experience from all the three sides ie parents, child's and teachers . A child is well motivated and is better inclined to adapt new theories when he sees his families involvement in the curriculum. Parents direct contribution in the classrooms experiences also includes better understanding and respecting each other cultures.

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