Study on Designing a Curriculum for Preschool Students

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The early childhood educator should have necessary skills in designing curriculum standards that are based on appropriate developmental aspects in a child. It is also imperative to have lesson plans that meet and are guided by specific standards of kindergarten in every state. This is because in the United States, learning in early childhood tends to vary and are distinct from one state to the other. However, there are common themes that can be found among the varying early childhood learning standards. In United States, preschool learning standards are subdivided into developmental sensitive curricular in different aspects such as language proficiency, development in literacy aspects, creative arts, and social studies. In each standard area, there are other divided standards that are conceptualized through specific concepts and ideas. For instance, a science subject may be sub-divided into standard concepts such as biology, physical science, and environmental science. Moreover, these sub-divided concepts may as well be categorized into smaller concepts such as climate and weather, plants and animals among others.

Standards of Preschool or early childhood curriculum should be designed in such a way that it should incorporate the diverse nature of the children. Every child's needs should be incorporated and should not be left out in the designing of the preschool curricula.

The purpose of this research paper is to investigate all the aspects of preschool educational curricula and to bring all aspects of early childhood education including theories, philosophies, and concepts into perspective. This paper gives focus to children aged between 3-8 years. The main focus of this paper will be outlining how to create a curriculum that is child-centered and handles every child's needs in each and every developmental area such as physical area, emotional, creativity, and cognitive aspects of a child.

It is imperative to note that many states in America offer ideas in necessary examples and practices that are vital in supporting each specified standard. This is important in helping teachers in understanding the set standards and transforming and translating it in planning of lessons. This paper imposes standards for pre-kindergarten as a model for this paper, in creating a lesson plan that is standard based.

It is important to note that lesson planning is a vital component in education in day-to-day functions of a classroom. A lesson plan that has a strong structure can be vital in reaching and engaging even to the toughest students while at the same time giving challenges to the students who are most gifted. A good lesson plan acts as a blueprint and sets up the foundation for educational protagonists to reach students who are characterized to have a wide variety of learning styles.

Schools in both private and public settings can achieve an effective lesson plan through practice. A good and strategic planning of a lesson can incorporate contents of a simple teacher's guide and thereafter ensuring that learning for every student is maximized. The key to the success of planning a lesson strictly lies in effective action research. An effective lesson plan addresses both today's high standards and the differentiated styles of learning of each student.

In creating a good preschool curriculum, one must first identify and utilize the right strategy for every curriculum design. Designing a curriculum that incorporates direct instructions by creating questions that are designed to take students through the necessary steps that aid in content comprehension is necessary. Designing indirect instructions that guide students to mastering contents through exploration of common concepts, terms, data, and events attributes. When creating a curriculum for preschool, it is necessary to ensure that the curriculum aids students in previewing, predicting, and identifying relevant materials. Another method that can be incorporated in curriculum design for preschool is grouping children to create partnerships, which can mutually benefit them. Theories of learning assert that children learn effectively while in groups/teams.

Curriculum designers can program the curriculum in a way that the content mastery in the lessons may be through the use of games, tournaments, and teams. When appropriately applied, a good preschool curriculum can make a boring material to be appealing thus making learning for children interesting.

It is important for teachers to put into consideration that it is not wholly a necessity to choose one particular standard when developing a standard based lesson plan. Choosing one standard when developing a lesson plan only works effectively when developing a lesson for only one activity. However, when developing a one-week-long theme, it is vital to employ and administer a wide range of areas. Thereafter, an early childhood teacher should put into consideration what other contents concepts can be added as well. Other aspects that can be included in an effective preschool curriculum may include, among others, visual and creative arts, graphical designs in case it's a math lesson, fiction and non-fiction books reading on aspects such as weather or one can as well look and study maps in cases the lesson is social studies or geography. This notion is in line with the behaviorist theory where behaviorists acknowledge the fact that learning is finite. They continue to assert that learning is overt, observable, and measurable using empirical methods. This aspect fronts the idea that learning is best when changes are observed in the learner.

It is equally important to consider several ideas when designing and planning learning for young children. It is important to provide activities projects and themes that are suitable to the age and individualized needs of each child. Several elements can also be put into perspective. Such elements include a). Age appropriateness; the ages for the children should be considered and incorporated into the program. Any single age group, for instance 4 year-olds, has distinct needs from a group of preschoolers who have mixed age group. The curriculum should be designed in such a way that is suitable for the development of each age group by offering a wide variety of appropriate activities. Thereafter, the needs group goals should be set after assessing the needs of that particular age group.

b). Individual appropriateness; the early childhood teacher should think about every child's development and focus should be made towards these needs. It is worth noting that theories assert that children tend to follow similar growth patterns, it is only the time frame for each child that differs. Each child's interests, his/her abilities, and background of the family should be well understood prior to meeting the needs for each child. Theories assert that learning is best when old knowledge is the foundation of new information since new knowledge is built on old information. Child-centered planning should be necessitated in such a way that focus is made on a child's everyday experiences. This will in turn imply when a child is developing and growing more independently, so will the child become self-centered. This will in turn make the teachers to expand teaching plans, c). Family and culture; children should not encounter separation from family and culture. It is important for teachers to design activities that are taken into consideration the wishes of families and their values. It is equally important to involve parents in designing the curricular since different families have different ways of making meaningful contributions. However, there are families that would not wish to be involved, yet others would want to be involved. Those that wish to be involved should not be disappointed, as they will make any necessary contributions, d). What the teacher values as important should be given ample considerations when designing a curriculum. The teacher should analyze his/her own interests, his/her own personal philosophy and he/she should not forget putting the programs philosophy into perspective, e). Transitions should be effected in designing a curriculum for the preschool. Factors such as the schedules for each day and the day's length should affect the designing of the curriculum. Transitions are times that take place between different activities, which may at times interfere with the flow of play. The curriculum should avoid too many transitions and the preschool children should be given ample time to be well engaged in their play. The transitions should as well be held smoothly, f). Parents and teachers that are vital in the curriculum should choose themes. Necessary themes that are real in a child's life should be applied. Projects and activities that are closely associated with a child's home environment, neighborhood should be administered in the curriculum. As the child keeps on growing, so is his/her interests, thus necessary adjustments should be made in conjunction with the growth. The maximum time that a theme should last should be a maximum of one week. It is also necessary to ensure that themes flow and teachers should note the growth in children's interests. This can be done through observations and paying attention to the non-verbal communication in a child's activities. Children can be helped to develop growth and skills through planning and presenting a variety of materials, which may include books, pictures, activities, and explorative projects.

One of the early philosophies of early childhood education known as the High/Scope was incorporated in the United States in 1960. The philosophy is based on Jean Piaget's ideas that children should be actively involved in their own learning. Children learn best through doing, most often working best with hands on materials and chose projects they can handle. This therefore means that the adults who are working with the children should perceive themselves as facilitators or partners than managers or supervisors. This is in line with the theory of humanists, which backs the notion that learning is best done when the learners have desires to learn. The potentiality of growth of an individualized learner is boundless. Learners should therefore be empowered to be independent in controlling their learning process, thus, learning should not be not be done for them.

High/Scope philosophy ensures that all the aspects of a child's development are encompassed and teachers and parents are actively involved in giving support for a child's emotional, intellectual, social, and physical abilities and skills. Therefore, when designing a preschool curriculum, it is mandatory to put into consideration all the approaches that are advocated for by the High/ Scope philosophy.

High/Scope philosophy should be a guide in terms of designating different areas for different activities. Children are therefore supposed to access all the necessary facilities independently and therefore should be responsible for the use of these areas.

A research was conducted to identify whether the High/Scope is an effective mode of preschool learning. David Weikart, who evaluated 128 children in a randomized manner. Sixty-four students were subjected into treatment group, while a control group of 64 students was not subjected into treatment. Before initializing the research, Weikart ensured that the preschool and the control groups were equivalent in terms of intellectual performances and demographic traits. The results were so significant since the children who were subjected to the treatment showed superior feedback as compared to their peers who were not subjected to randomized treatment.

Mathematics concept is used as a model in this paper. Teaching mathematics in early childhood is actually beneficial to a child's development. It is imperative to note that the child acquires foundation for significant development during the early years. Therefore, this paper give focus on the importance of learning in the area of math. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics stress the importance of learning math early among children by asserting that a high-quality and challenging as well as accessing mathematics education by providing the opportunity with necessary foundations for understanding mathematics in their future lives. The National Association also fronted this idea for the Education of Young Children. The two organizations assert that early education in math is important in the development cognitive aspects of children in multiple areas. By introducing a curriculum in math that based on research, preschool teachers can effectively assist young learners to grow.

One way of ensuring effective math learning takes place in a classroom is by ensuring that the curriculum is based on experiences that are specific to the children in the classroom. Necessary words and materials that are relevant and familiar to the children in regard to the previous knowledge, background of the community and their cultural importance should be put into consideration. The curriculum should ensure that the interactions are extended and sustained in regard to the math concepts. Math activities should be pre-planned and added where they deem fit in the lesson plan. It is also vital to integrate and absorb math learning into other areas of the curriculum. This will ensure that children are exposed to math in all their areas of learning and in this regard, children will know that math surrounds every aspect of their lives. The curriculum should be designed in such a way that it makes learning to be fun, and an interactive process that encompasses other learning areas such as literacy, art, music, and physical education. Teachers should also incorporate the right vocabulary for math that is ideal for young children. For instance, teachers can use words such as geometry while introducing shapes as this will linger for a long time in a child's mind.

In conclusion, quality experiences of learning in children are well enhanced by a curriculum that is planned correctly. The curriculum designers should choose activities, projects, and themes that are necessary in meeting the needs of the diverse children. Appropriate consideration should be according to the age of the students so they are given contents that they can easily master and comprehend. The curriculum designers should also ensure that the needs of parents and/or guardians are absorbed, and that they are in line with family differences and cultural heritage of every child. Teachers should never discourage early childhood learners in regard to their age, gender from any particular theme or classroom activity. In designing a curriculum for preschool children, educational theories, philosophies, and concepts should be taken into consideration.