At Cockatoo Family Day Care Center we use the emergent curriculum and the Reggio Emilia approach. This type of programming is a way of planning a curriculum based on each child’s interest and passions, as well as the teacher’s.
To plan an emergent curriculum requires observation, documentation, creative brainstorming, flexibility and patience. Rather than starting with a lesson plan which requires a “hook” to get the children interested, emergent curriculum starts with the children’s interests. This is not to say that the teacher has no input, in fact teachers may well have a general topic they think is important for children to study and they may purposely include certain materials or experiences related to it as jumping off points.
An idea for a curriculum topic may be sparked by anything or come from anywhere. For instance, a teacher may overhear a group of students having a discussion about bugs that leads to the class sitting down and coming up with a web topic that explores all the possible directions the class could go in their quest to learn all they can about the topic of bugs. Ideas may also be sparked by offering experiences such as taking a walk through the neighborhood, visiting local businesses, or reading books.
The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy focused on preschool education, its philosophy is based upon the following set of principles:
Children must have some control over the direction of their learning;
Children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, and observing;
Children have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that children must be allowed to explore;
Children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves;
The Reggio Emilia approach to teaching young children puts the natural development of children as well as the close relationships that they share with their environment at the center of its philosophy. The foundation of the Reggio Emilia approach lies in its unique view of the child. In this approach, there is a belief that children have rights and should be given opportunities to develop their potential. “Influenced by this belief, the child is beheld as beautiful, powerful, competent, creative, curious, and full of potential and ambitious desires.” The child is also viewed as being an active constructor of knowledge. Rather than being seen as the target of instruction, children are seen as having the active role of an apprentice. This role also extends to that of a researcher. Much of the instruction at Reggio Emilia schools takes place in the form of projects where they have opportunities to explore, observe, hypothesize, question, and discuss to clarify their understanding. Children are also viewed as social beings and a focus is made on the child in relation to other children, the family, the teachers, and the community rather than on each child in isolation.
In the Reggio approach, the teacher is considered a co-learner and collaborator with the child and not just an instructor. Teachers are encouraged to facilitate the child’s learning by planning activities and lessons based on the child’s interests, asking questions to further understanding, and actively engaging in the activities alongside the child, instead of sitting back and observing the child learning. “As partner to the child, the teacher is inside the learning situation” (Hewett, 2001).
Hewitt, Valarie (2001). “Examining the Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education”. Early Childhood Education Journal 29 (2): 95-10.
Jump up ^ Katz, Lilian (1993). Edwards, C., Gandini, L., Forman, G. (Eds), ed. The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation. pp. 19–37.
Jump up ^ Forman, G. (1996). Fosnot, CT (Ed), ed. Constructivism: Theory, Perspectives, and Practice. New York: Teachers College Press. pp. 172–181. ISBN 978-0807734889.
Jump up ^ Gandini, L. (1993). “Fundamentals of the Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education”. Young Children 49 (1): 4–8.