The preschool curriculum you choose for your daycare program is one of the most important decisions you make in managing your childcare business. A great curriculum is an asset to your daycare program, one that you can highlight as a feature that sets your program apart from your competitors. In this article, we will explore several key attributes to a great preschool curriculum so you can choose the right curriculum for your daycare center.
What Is a Curriculum and Why Do I Need One for My Daycare?
What exactly is an early childhood education curriculum and why do you need one? Different educators hold a variety of views on preschool curriculum; some focus on curriculum as a teaching philosophy, a structured program, or a set of academic materials to measure different learning and development outcomes in young children. A basic definition of your preschool curriculum is the educational elements you use to engage children in order to foster their growth and development, physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially. Some daycare owners choose to utilize their professional early childhood education experience to develop their own preschool curriculum. Others prefer to use a well-established curriculum from a reputable publisher in the industry. Many daycare owners use a combination of both.
It’s important to offer a quality curriculum as a part of your childcare program. Child psychologists emphasize that the early years of a child’s life are crucial to his or her formative development. Parents recognize that their children will be spending a significant portion of this developmental period in your care, and they want to know that you are nurturing growth, learning, and discovery in their child. An effective preschool curriculum can help you accomplish this important task. Let’s take a look at a few questions you can ask as you decide which early childhood education curriculum is right for your daycare.
What Is My Teaching Philosophy?
The first step to choosing the right curriculum for your childcare program is deciding your teaching philosophy. Do you want to emphasize a program in which children learn through play? If so, your preschool curriculum will be more focused on the process, giving children opportunities to explore and discover the world around them through guided activities and lots of playtime. Or do you prefer to offer a more structured approach that helps children achieve specific learning outcomes through the use of academic materials? If so, your preschool curriculum will be more focused on the product, using more traditional academic resources like worksheets and guided lessons to help children learn specific content.
Many preschool curricula fall on different ends of the spectrum between play-based learning and a formal, school-preparatory approach, offering different models for engaging children and cultivating their development. From Montessori to Charlotte Mason to Waldorf programs, you will want to find a curriculum that reflects your teaching philosophy.
What Do the Children in My Program Need?
The children who participate in your program, whether infants, toddlers, or preschoolers, will need a curriculum that helps you and your teachers meet their needs for physical, intellectual, emotional, and social development. Parents are going to be attuned to how your program meets these needs in their children.
An effective curriculum will help you meet the physical needs of the little ones in your care. In addition to nutritious food, diaper changes, potty training, nap time, hygiene, and safety measures, children need to develop their gross motor and fine motor skills. Physical activities like running, skipping, jumping, dancing, and using outdoor playthings or playground equipment will help children accomplish these important milestones.
An effective curriculum also helps children develop intellectually. Many preschool curricula offer an educational theme for each month of the calendar year. Topics like oceans, weather, bugs, flowers and plants, community helpers, folktales and fables, and habitats give your teachers opportunities to focus on a variety of educational content pertaining to one theme, allowing children to explore and develop interests in different topics. Letters and numbers, colors, shapes, seasons, days of the week, months of the year, and other foundational learning outcomes are also important to consider.
Your program should also help children develop socially and emotionally. An effective curriculum will make it easy and natural to foster group learning, teamwork, sharing, cooperation, taking turns, and other important social and emotional skills children need to develop.
What Do My Teachers Need?
You will want to choose a curriculum that not only serves the children in your program, but one that your teachers also feel enthusiastic about. Does the curriculum provide enough resources for your teachers to implement and engage their students? Do your teachers feel overwhelmed by the number of academic materials that they must get through? Does the curriculum provide flexibility for teachers to be able to spend more time on a topic that children find fascinating or adapt the content to meet the needs of children with differing ability levels? You and your teachers should be engaged with the curriculum; otherwise, it will leave you feeling uninspired and possibly overwhelmed.
What Does This Curriculum Offer?
Pay attention to what each preschool curriculum offers. Make sure the curriculum has been developed by accredited early childhood education professionals. It should align with your teaching philosophy and provide an educational program that you feel best meets the needs of the children and your teachers. What are other daycare owners saying about the curriculum? Read reviews, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to try out a few options before you commit to a specific program. Remember, you don’t have to like what you try, you just have to keep looking around until you find the right fit.
How Can I Use This Curriculum to Help My Daycare Stand Out?
Once you settle on a curriculum for your daycare center, don’t hesitate to integrate your offerings into your marketing strategy. Parents will naturally want to know what kind of educational development their children will receive in your care. Use your website, your social media pages, parent interviews, daycare tours, and more to highlight your approach to early childhood education and the exciting ways children will learn at your daycare. Your curriculum can be an incredible selling feature of your daycare services, so be sure to use it as such!
Selecting a curriculum for your childcare program may at first seem like a daunting task, but we hope this guide leaves you feeling excited about the wonderful possibilities that a quality curriculum opens up to you as a daycare business owner.
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