Early Childhood Education
The Creative Curriculum for Preschool
The Creative Curriculum, for Preschool is a comprehensive curriculum that defines for teachers what content to teach, why the designated content and skills are appropriate for young children, and how to teach effectively.
The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool is based on six fundamental beliefs:
1. The value of play as a vehicle for learning.
2. The importance of helping children to develop social competence.
3. The vital role of the teacher in connecting content and learning.
4. The benefits of building a partnership with families.
5. A belief that all children, including those with special needs, can thrive in an appropriate classroom.
6. The importance of linking curriculum and assessment.
Part 1: The Curriculum Framework
There are five components of the Creative Curriculum framework.
How children develop and learn. A preschool child’s social/emotional, physical, cognitive, and language development, and his or her characteristics and experiences, make each child unique. Goals and objectives for children are linked to the Developmental Continuum, a tool for observing children’s development and tracking their progress in relation to Curriculum objectives.
The learning environment. The structure of the classroom that makes it possible for teachers to teach and children to learn. This includes how teachers set up and maintain interest areas in the classroom, establish schedules and routines, organize choice times and small- and large-group times, and create a classroom community where children learn how to get along with others and solve problems peacefully.
What children learn. The body of knowledge included in national and state standards for six content areas—literacy, math, science, social studies, the arts, and technology—and the process skills children use to learn that content. The Creative Curriculum shows how children learn content and skills through daily experiences.
The teacher’s role. How careful observations of children lead to a variety of instructional strategies to guide children’s learning. The Creative Curriculum explains how teachers interact with children in interest areas and during in-depth studies. It describes a systematic approach to assessment that enables teachers to learn about and plan for each child and the group.
The family’s role. The benefits of developing a partnership with every family and working together to support children’s optimal development and learning. This last component includes getting to know families, welcoming them and communicating with them regularly, partnering on children’s learning, and responding to challenging situations.
Part 2: Interest Areas
The five components of The Creative Curriculum, framework are applied to eleven areas—blocks, dramatic play, toys and games, art, library, discovery, sand and water, music and movement, cooking, computers, and outdoors. The Creative Curriculum describes the materials that meet the developmental needs of young children and enhance learning and teaching. Each interest area description shows the connections between The Creative Curriculum’s fifty objectives and academic content and how teachers guide and assess children’s learning. Each description ends with a letter to families on ways to support children’s learning at school and at home.
Throughout the Creative Curriculum there are examples of how two teachers, Ms. Tory and Mr. Alvarez, work with a group of eighteen preschool children.
A key element of The Creative Curriculum for Preschool is the strong link between curriculum and assessment. The Creative Curriculum goals and objectives provide the direction for planning the program and a framework for determining what each child knows and how each child is developing.
Each of the fifty objectives is mapped on a continuum of development so that teachers can evaluate and analyze a child’s progress and offer strategies and activities to help that child progress to the next level. The following diagram shows an example of one objective of The Creative Curriculum Developmental Continuum for Ages 3-5. The nonshaded boxes illustrate typical development of children ages 3-5 on Objective 50, writes letters and words. The shaded box labeled forerunners includes examples of emerging skills for children who are not in the typical range of development and lag behind because of lack of experience or a diagnosed disability.
Writes letters and words
Scribbles with crayons
Experiments with writing tools such as markers and pencils
Draws simple pictures to represent something
Uses scribble writing and letter-like forms
Writes recognizable letters, especially those in own name
Uses letters that represent sounds in writing words
Teachers observe children during their everyday classroom experiences, document what they see and hear, and then make informed decisions regarding a child’s development using the Developmental Continuum. They use this information to plan activities and experiences tailored to the individual child.
This observation-based, authentic, ongoing assessment system is based on a valid and reliable instrument, The Developmental Continuum for Ages 3-5. There are two versions of this system:
• The Developmental Continuum Assessment Toolkit for Ages 3-5, the paper version. It includes all the materials and forms needed for a class of twenty-five children, including report forms for parents to be used three times a year.
• CreativeCurriculum.net, the online subscription system. Online, teachers enter observational notes and upload photos, scanned images, audio files, and video clips. Each observation is then linked to The Creative Curriculum objectives. Teachers refer to these when analyzing and evaluating children’s progress on the Developmental Continuum. There are more than 500 activities for both home and school, each linked specifically to a developmental step on the Continuum.
The Creative Curriculum® is the title of a series of curriculum and assessment materials that include the following:
• The Creative Curriculum® for Infants & Toddlers
• The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool
• The Creative Curriculum® Developmental Continuum Assessment System
• The Creative Curriculum® for Family Child Care See also Families.
Diane Trister Dodge