Bedford Child Development Center’s curriculum is The Creative Curriculum a theory and research based curriculum centered on five fundamental principles. These principles include: positive interactions with adults and peers, social emotional development, constructive and purposeful play, the environment itself and the partnerships developed between teachers and family. Studies have found the experiences children are exposed through purposeful play enhances one’s cognitive development, symbolic thinking, positive learning, social development and language, literacy and math skill (Trister Dodge, Heroman, Colker, EdD & Bickart, 2010).
Through the teacher’s observations and interactions with the children in their classrooms, the teachers plan their days. Topics of study are developed from the conversations and interests in the classrooms. When the children show interest in a certain area the teachers make note of those interests. The teacher researches and gathers materials to further expand the children’s knowledge on the topic of interest. The teacher will continue teaching on this topic and all aspects of the topic until the children’s interests change. Once the children show interest in a new topic the process then starts over with research and planning.
The Creative Curriculum’s framework has five components: “how children develop and learn, the learning environment, what children learn, caring and teaching and partnering with families” (Trister Dodge et al.). Each of these components are broken down to assist teachers in implementing the curriculum into their classrooms. The five components make up a framework designed to be broken down into eleven interest areas including outdoors with eight content areas in the classrooms.
WHAT CHILDREN LEARN
Children learn in the content areas of literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, the arts and technology. Each content area is broken down into specifics including objectives and strategies for teachers to accommodate children’s learning.
Literacy: Children learn vocabulary and language skills, phonological awareness, knowledge of print, letters and words, comprehension, books and other texts.
Mathematics: Children learn number and operations, geometry and spatial sense, measurement, patterns (algebra), and data analysis.
Science: Children learn physical and life sciences as well as about the Earth and the environment.
Social Studies: Focuses on history, geography, economics and civics. The children learn about these standards of social studies by learning and understanding people and how they live, people and the environment, people and the past and spaces and geography.
The Arts: Art involves children‘s ability to design, create, and explore. Children mix paints, pound on clay, build structures with blocks, boxes and LEGO pieces; dance, dramatize stories, clap rhythms and sing chants and songs (Trister Dodge et al.). There are four components of the arts – dance, music, theater or performing arts (which we call dramatic play) and visual arts.
Technology: Technology involves the tools, machines, materials, techniques and sources of power that make work easier and solve problems. The four components of technology is a child’s awareness of technology, basic operations and concepts, tools and equipment and people and technology.
Some important features of the curriculum is the use of natural items in the physical environment, the opportunity for open-ended activities throughout the day, and children learning through direct exploration and experience. Incorporating items children normally see in their homes into the physical environment of the classroom and allowing children to manipulate these materials and equipment helps them learn. The curriculum addresses all four developmental domains of social-emotional, physical, cognitive and language and is aligned with state and national standards and guidelines.
Bedford Child Development Center utilizes The Creative Curriculum’s assessment tool called Teaching Strategies Gold. This ongoing assessment tool is an authentic, observational assessment system for children birth – kindergarten. It is designed to help a teacher get to know the children in their classrooms better – what they know and can do, as well as their strengths, needs and interests. The assessment tool uses a four-step assessment process: “observing and collecting facts; analyzing and responding; evaluating; and summarizing, planning and communicating” (Trister et. al, 2010). Each of these four steps is broken down to assist teachers in implementing the tool in the classroom.
The primary purpose of the Teaching Strategies Gold assessment tool is to help teachers:
The secondary purposes are to help teachers:
Through the teachers’ interactions, observations and conversations with the children in the classroom, teachers are able to understand your individual child’s interests, develop and areas of concern. Teachers conduct parent-teacher conferences twice a year to discuss a child’s progress and overall growth and development.