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5.0 Curriculum and Child Development

Founding Principles

Each child has unique qualities, intrinsic value, and great potential.  Understanding this statement is the foundation from which the early learning program is developed.   Children are designed to learn and given a safe environment, quality materials, and thoughtful guidance, they will progress through the stages of learning and development as each new level builds on previous successes. The provider should strategically organize the environment, plan the activities, and provide teaching materials based on Biblical principles to work with the child’s natural inclination to learn and grow.

Not only should the atmosphere be warm, kind, and positive, but also the teaching materials must complement the Biblical principle that each child is special and that learning is a pleasant experience.
Play should be a part of every child’s daily experience as it creates the framework for which a child practices and develops skills, learns to work with others, and safely explores the world around them. 

Quality curriculum and materials based on Biblical principles provide a continuum of learning and opportunity for creative development that moves at a natural pace and with the child’s ability to learn.  Along this path, over time, young children explore, learn, and grow in the development of their bodies (physical activity), their minds (cognitive and language skills) and their awareness of themselves and others (social and self-development). 

 In these early years it is important to prepare young children to be ready for school by implementing programs supported by relative research that provide opportunities in literacy, pre-reading, pre-math, science as exploration, and early social studies.  The provider should have academic and skill development goals for each individual child as well as goals for the group as a whole. 

5.1 Curriculum Overview and Implementation
Curriculum is defined as the structural program and teaching materials that provide the framework for meeting the goals in each area of development (physical, academic, and social), being appropriate to the age and development of each child.
General Guidelines

5.1.1 Curriculum Guidelines:  Each provider will maintain a curriculum, scope and sequence, and goal sheet for each child and each group.  Curriculum will include but is not limited to:

5.1.2 Lessons Plans: Lesson Plans are the step-by-step teacher instructions outlining the objectives, the daily activities designed to meet those objectives, and curriculum implementation in the classroom.  Lesson Plans are designed to meet the age appropriate needs of each child and the group. 
Lesson planning is three-fold and is primarily functional for 3, 4, and 5 year olds. 

5.1.3 Schedules and Routines   An orderly, peaceful, and predictable daily routine gives stability and confidence to young children.  Schedules of the daily activities and routines must be posted publicly and followed.  The teachers provide a consistent schedule of daily events, but remain attentive to individuals and can adapt smoothly to changes when necessary.

5.2 Physical Development
5.2.1 Physical Development—Core Knowledge   The curriculum and activities are designed to meet the physical needs and the developmental abilities of each child as they grow. Children should be given opportunities daily to play indoors and outdoors developing gross motor skills, balance, and coordination.  Although certain physical abilities are expected at certain ages, all children are individuals and develop at their own pace.   Since many of the physical development activities take place in groups and in play, the atmosphere will be kept positive, fair, and safe.

The goals and standards of Physical Development will be in accordance with the Core Knowledge Pre-School Sequence for Movement and Coordination.  This sequence describes motor and coordination skills, and related movement activities that extend and refine notions of body image and the body’s capabilities. It also provides opportunities for enhancing time, space and language concepts, as well as social development (when activities are carried out with others).

5.2.2 Motor Skills  At every stage of development, babies and young children are given opportunities to develop motor skills and teachers watch to see that they are progressing at a rate that is appropriate for the child.  These goals are reached through a variety of tasks, and traditional childhood games.

5.3 Social and Emotional Development
5.3.1 Social Development Teachers set the tone for the classroom experience, making it a positive, warm, safe, and inviting atmosphere.  Teachers plan and organize the environment to support this tone, implement the curriculum, and allow for play, exploration learning, and creative expression.  A positive teacher-child relationship is key to the successful social and emotional development of each child.  Teachers will be trained in the specific skills that build a strong connection between themselves and their students.  Teachers and all staff working with children will:

5.3.2 Emotional Development, Self-Awareness, and Self Esteem  True self-esteem comes from the Biblical understanding that all children are precious and have value and purpose.  The idea that children have great worth apart from their behavior must be cultivated.  The classroom should not be a place where children are ‘good’ when they behave and ‘bad’ when they misbehave.  Rather, children should feel loved and be taught the benefits of making right choices as a way of being a successful part of the group and honoring those around them.  Teachers and all staff working with children will:

5.4 Teaching Strategies
5.4.1 Variety and Balance of Activities   Young children need to physically move throughout the instructional day and have opportunities for a variety of activities to meet their need for hands-on experiences.  The daily schedule/routine should provide a variety and balance of activities including large group (teacher directed), small group (teacher-student interactive), individual (child initiated), and indoor and outdoor play.  Times for each activity should be appropriate to the age and development of the children.

5.4.2 Transitions   Transitions between activities should be planned, smooth, and flow naturally giving children time to finish what they are currently engaged in, prepare for the next activity, and make the transition. 

5.4.3 Resources and Learning Centers  Curriculum is incomplete with out the age appropriate materials, equipment, learning centers, and supplies necessary to meet the objectives of the scope and sequence.  Young children are primarily tactile learners and they must have access to a variety of hands-on materials to reinforce learning and allow for the rehearsal of ideas and creative expression. Very young children need exposure to a variety of colors, sounds, and textures. Children are given opportunities every day to play, using their imaginations and self-expression.  Materials and supplies must be sturdy and safe.  Educational materials may include but are not limited to:

Appropriate materials are organized into learning centers where like-items are grouped and space is provided for small group and individual play.  Learning Center materials will be:

5.4.4 Group Instruction and Classroom Interaction  Educational, social and physical goals for young children will be met in a variety of group and individual settings.  Teachers must carefully plan each day, orchestrating the varying elements of learning objectives, cognitive development of the children, large and small group instruction, activities, and individual play/exploration time.  Teachers will be proactive and diffuse contention that rises between children before negative behaviors erupt whenever possible, keeping the children focused on the positive activity they are engaged in. 

Large Group:  Teachers will organize and regularly provide large group activities and projects that:

Small Group:  Teachers should look for opportunities to work with smaller groups inviting children to work at stations, in teams or small groups allowing children the opportunity to be involved in work, discussion, and accomplishing tasks together.  Teachers will organize and regularly provide small group activities and projects that:

Individual: Children are individuals and must receive individual attention throughout the day apart from group activities.  Teachers will:

5.4.5 Involving the Children  There are times when children have difficulty in being a part of the classroom environment.  Whether they are shy, frightened, or unsure how to join in, children often need time and careful reassurance as they develop the confidence they need to participate fully.

5.4.6 Child-Directed Activities    Children must have daily opportunities to make their own choices, organize their own environment, and explore their own interests. 

5.4.7 Healthy Nutrition in Curriculum  Good nutrition and healthy habits should be part of the curriculum and teachers should take every opportunity to encourage young children to make healthy choices in eating.  Teachers will include but not be limited to the following:

5.4.8 Good Health Practices   Young children need to be made aware of good health practices, habits, and routines and these practices should be part of the curriculum.  Teaching about healthy habits and making them part of the daily schedule will help children feel familiar with them. Hand washing will be a part of the daily routine as needed and will always come before eating and after using the restroom or playing outside.  Teachers will instruct and assist children in proper hand washing techniques.  Methods of incorporating good health practices in the classroom may include but are not limited to:


5.4.9 Positive Discipline  Children need clear directions, specific instruction and modeling as to proper behavior, time to repeat and learn the skills until fluent, and positive discipline for when they make poor choices or exhibit a lack of self-control.  Positive guidance, appropriate for the developmental abilities of each child, is used to help children gain self-control and take responsibility for their own behavior.  

Children also need to know that they are loved and valued apart from their behavior. In other words children should not be made to feel that they are loved more and when behave and loved less or devalued when they misbehave.  Teachers will use effective techniques such as redirection, reflective listening, and reinforcing with affirmations. Such techniques include but are not limited to:

Teachers will:

Teachers will not:

The administration will publish the disciplinary policies and procedures making sure that all child care workers and parents understand the philosophies and practices of positive discipline.

5.4.10 Technology and Media  Technology, when used, should be a tool to reinforce topics taught should be used sparingly with young children.

Core Subject Areas

Regardless of primary publisher used, curriculum content for the subject areas of Language and Literacy (Oral Language, Rhymes, Storybooks, Reading, Writing),  Math (Reasoning and Number Sense), Science (Physical World, Sensory Exploration), Social Studies (Family, Cultural Awareness, Community), and Enrichment (Fine Arts, Music, Movement, Creative Art) will meet the basic goals as outlined in the Core Knowledge Sequence, Content and Skill Guidelines for Pre-School

This work is based on an original work of the Core Knowledge© Foundation made available through licensing under a Creative CommonsAttribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. This doesnot in any way imply that the Core Knowledge Foundation endorses the work. (

5.5 Language & Literacy - Core Knowledge   The development of language skills and literacy in young children is of utmost importance and will have an impact virtually on every aspect of future development.  Although young children, in general, will under typical circumstances acquire basic skills on their own through interaction, such as learning to speak, this does not automatically evolve into sophisticated language skills.    Building a vocabulary, understanding and using complex grammatical structures, and using language symbolically, depend heavily upon the opportunities provided to engage in language experiences.  These experiences begin with infants through oral language, eye contact, print media, music and play.  As children progress through pre-school they continue to develop in the areas of reading, writing, receptive (comprehension), and expressive (production of language) skills.
5.5.1 Oral Language Experience Literacy skills begin with spoken language.  Children benefit from the tone and sound of language before they have understanding of the structure of language.  Research shows that the manner in which adults respond to children’s speaking along with the opportunities offered for conversation clearly influence children’s language development.
Infants/Toddlers:  Teachers will:

5.5.2  Nursery Rhymes, Poems, and Songs While still part of the oral language experience, nursery rhymes, poems, fingerplays, and songs engage children while introducing them to more formal structured language.  By listening to and reciting these poems and songs, children have an opportunity to model and practice various oral language skills, including pronunciation, vocabulary and syntax. They can then build upon their familiarity with certain well-known rhymes by experimenting with rhyming words. This competency, in turn, focuses attention on the sounds of language, a skill that will enhance later efforts in initial reading. Plans will include regular introduction and repetition of positive nursery rhymes, poems, and songs.

 In addition to the sheer enjoyment of listening to and repeating the rhythmic and musical combination of words, learning these selections provides skill and discipline in developing the ability to memorize and further extends children’s understanding and use of both the form and function of language.

5.5.3 Storybook Reading and Story Telling  Books play an important role in the development of literacy skills in young children.   Children should have access to books, a print-rich environment, be read to, and participate in the telling of stories. In listening to and talking about stories that are read aloud, children build both listening and speaking skills. They are introduced to new vocabulary and formal written syntax, ways of linking and relating ideas. They also refine skills in:

5.5.4 Emerging Literacy Skills in Reading   A crucial part of learning to read is developing phonemic awareness, the understanding that individual sounds are associated with individual letters and combinations of letters Children are asked to take apart and put together smaller and smaller units of sound, from individual words in a sentence, to syllables in words, to the beginning sounds in individual words.  Lesson plans include activities that encourage phonemic awareness such as:

5.5.5 Emerging Literacy Skills in Writing  In order to write, children must learn both the connection of oral language to print and develop the hand/eye coordination and small motor skills to produce the print.  Children first learn to associate specific familiar spoken words, such as their own names or names of familiar objects, with specific written words. Children then go on to recognize that the distinct marks that make up each word are letters in our alphabet. Children learn that these letters have names through such means as singing the alphabet song. They learn to identify and name the specific letters in their own names.


5.6 Mathematical Awareness - Core Knowledge      A child’s first experience with math concepts comes from their natural inclination to explore the world around them.  Teachers will build on this curiosity by guiding their discoveries and providing opportunities for children to: count, build, organize, and classify objects.  

5.6.1 Mathematical Reasoning   Children will be given daily opportunities to use manipulatives and specific objects in the concrete learning stage: to observe and recognize similarities and differences,
classify objects and shapes, recognize/create patterns in sequences of objects and make comparisons among objects, using simple measurement skills.

5.6.2 Mathematical Number Sense  Children will be directed to quantify small groups of objects, to count and to demonstrate a basic understanding of addition and subtraction as “putting together” and “taking away.” In each instance, the child is asked to move from the concrete experience to representing knowledge symbolically using mathematical language.


5.7 Science - Core Knowledge   Science introduces children to a systematic way of looking at, describing and explaining the world around them. Children should be given many opportunities for systematic observation and hands-on investigation of both the living and material world. Building on these experiences, children can progress from describing and explaining what is observed to making predictions based on these observations. 

5.7.1 Physical World     Children need opportunities to explore the natural and physical environment around them such as watching insects, planting seeds and caring for plants, playing with water and sand, and playing with balls and ramps.  Through hands-on exploration and real world activities, children, at the appropriate age, should be directed to:

Suggested Science Materials for the Classroom:

5.7.2  Sensory Exploration  Children learn about the world around them primarily through their senses and the preschool classroom must be a sensory-rich environment. It should include numerous objects and organisms with which the students can touch and interact. Opportunities are provided throughout the day for children to use their senses for observing and learning about objects, events, and organisms.


5.8 Social Studies - Core Knowledge  A child’s view of the world is very small and is limited to what they have experienced.  Social Studies for young children begin with this familiar territory of family, and develop the concept of self, the interaction with others, awareness of other cultures and traditions, and community.

5.8.1 Social Skills Students should be given ample opportunities to learn about themselves, others, and how to interact appropriately through participation in group games and activities, and daily routines. 

5.8.2 Cultural Awareness  Children can learn about the world and have an appreciation for those who are from a different culture than their own.  Without using stereotypes, teachers can provide experiences in cultural diversity.  Some suggested activities:

5.8.3 Community  Young children are able to identify important members of their community based on what they wear (such as uniforms) or where they work (grocery store clerk, or waiter.)  Children can begin to understand that people have jobs and functions in the community. Some suggested activities to nurture this exploration of people in the community are:


5.9 Fine Arts - Core Knowledge Music and Art  are key components of early childhood education.  They lend themselves to the participation and experiential needs of children and they can be great fun. Music and Visual Arts should be used throughout the curriculum to allow for expression, reinforce concepts and lessons, and facilitate memorization skills.

5.9.1 Musical Experiences   Experiences in listening to and singing songs and fingerplays  provide opportunities to practice oral language skills. Music affords the opportunity to expand and clarify various concepts, such as “loud, soft,” “fast, slow,” etc. In addition, efforts that focus attention on discriminating differences in discrete environmental or musical sounds facilitate subsequent attention to phonemic awareness, awareness of the discrete sounds of language. Group musical experiences, performing or singing together, also offer the opportunity to practice social skills. The basic goals of this section ask the child to listen to and identify sounds, indicate whether certain sound pairs are the same or different, imitate sounds and rhythm sequences, sing songs individually and with others and move interpretatively to music.  

5.9.2 Visual Arts  The use of various media and techniques provides rich opportunities for sensory exploration and manipulation, as well as the development of fine motor skills. In addition, through painting and drawing, children make their first attempts at graphic representation, a precursor to writing. The guided examination of works of art provides practice in focusing attention on visual detail, important for developing skill in discriminating visual differences in objects, images, print and letters, as well as appreciating basic elements of art. The further examination and discussion of works of art also afford rich opportunities for language development.

Children should be given opportunities daily to experience creative expression through visual arts and dramatic play.  Art activities are used throughout the curriculum and at the appropriate age-level would include, but not be limited to:


Children’s art expressions should be respected for what they are and not judged as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  Their efforts should be appreciated and displayed whenever possible.  Suggestions for display are:

Children should have a variety of teacher directed art projects and child-directed free expression projects.  Suggested Art Materials:
            For children under the age of 3:

For children age 3 and older:


5.10 Assessment   Children are individuals and develop at their own pace.  Assessment with young children must be an ongoing process and part of the daily observation of children.  Using the model of  “Assess—Plan/Modify—Teach” cycle of assessment and focusing assessment on specific skills ensures that what is being assessed is developmentally and educationally significant.

5.10.1 Curriculum Involvement and Training  Teachers must have a working knowledge of the curriculum and materials that they use in the classroom especially the objectives and intended outcomes that have been set as goals before assessment can be effective.

5.10.2 Continuous Student Assessment    Assessment is an ongoing and purposeful activity used to inform the planning and modification of classroom lessons and activities.  Assessment for the purpose of program evaluation and accountability is used to ensure that desirable outcomes are being
achieved by children who participate in a particular program.

5.10.3 Training for Assessment  Teachers must be qualified to observe children and record these observations for assessment or have aid from personnel trained in methods of observing children and recording these observations for assessment. Results of observations are used for curriculum planning after identification of each child's stage of development, and parent/guardian conferences.

5.10.4  Characteristics of Effective Assessments

5.10.5 Methods and Tools of Assessment A variety of methods and the use of multiple tools are necessary for the ongoing, effective assessment of children’s progress.  Observations are recorded with objective language

5.10.6 Observations of Child Development Teachers will observe all areas of children’s development, including but not limited to:

Teachers will use these observations to incorporate classroom activities that address the individual needs, strengths, and preferences of the children in their care.