At The Bennett Family Center, we see the curriculum as everything that happens in a day. From forming strong relationships to creating routines infused with joy and learning to exploring the inquiries of growing minds, each moment of the day is thoughtfully planned and intentionally enriched to meet the needs of each child.
Our curriculum is emergent—it builds upon the interests of children. For example, topics for study are captured from the talk of children, community or family events, and the known interests of children (i.e. puddles, shadow, dogs, etc.). Team planning is an essential component of the emergent curriculum. Teachers work together to decide the possible directions of a project, the materials needed, and possible parent and/or community support and involvement.
The role of the teacher in leading an emergent curriculum is to:
- Co-explore the learning experience with children
- Provoke ideas, problem solving, and conflict among children
- Take ideas from children and return them for future exploration
- Organize classroom materials to be aesthetically pleasing
- Document children’s progress: using observations, anecdotal notes, portfolios, and assessment tools
- Help children see the connection in learning and experiences
- Help children express their knowledge through representational work
- Have a dialogue about class projects with parents and other teachers
- Foster the connection between home, school, and community projects
As a part of our emergent curriculum, teachers have been using the Project Approach (Lillian Katz and Sylvia C. Chard), an inquiry-based framework to learning that is based on Reggio Emilia preschools. In this approach a teacher introduces a topic and then documents what children already know about it, allowing them to use dramatic play, artistic representation, and stories to draw out that knowledge. Then teachers document what questions children have and develop ways for them to investigate and research further. Finally, the children conclude the project with a culminating event (i.e. a book, play, movie, or event) that demonstrates all that they've learned.
“The curriculum is not child centered or teacher directed. The curriculum is child originated and teacher framed…” – Reggio Emilia Approach