Developing a comprehensive and inclusive early childhood curriculum is challenging task. The children who will engage in the curriculum activities represent a myriad of individual differences. They often come from a range of ages and ability levels. They posses different learning styles preferences and intelligences. Add to this the need to make sure that curriculum covers all the developmental domains (physical, social – emotional, and cognitive), includes all subject areas (science, social studies, language, math, and so on) and that it sparks the interest of the children, and you can see the early childhood teacher has his or her hands full.
In many ways a teacher’s preparation of curriculum is comparable to a symphony conductor’s preparation of a musical score. Both teacher and conductor have many parts to coordinate. For the conductor it is the many different sounds of the musical instruments that he or she must bring in to harmony. For the teacher it is many individual differences of children the he or she must bring into accord. As the teacher and conductor facilitate the performances of their respective students and musicians they must continue to stay alert to many elements. When the performance appears virtually effortless to outsiders, you know you are witnessing the results of comprehensive preparation.
The teaching method of Rosemont American International School is designed to help the teacher weave the many elements of a comprehensive curriculum together.
Lesson and activities
- Include suggestions that encompass all learning style preferences,
- Offer learning center suggestions to enhance each of the eight multiple intelligences (high and ability levels)
- Encompass all aspects of the developmental domains,
- Cover all subject areas, and
- Are thematically based to appeal to the interest of the children
Let’s look briefly at these curriculum ingredients and the role each plays in a quality early childhood program.
1. Learning styles
When you try to learn something new, you may prefer to learn by listening to someone talk to you about the information. Others prefer to read about a concept to learn it, and still others need to see a demonstration of the concept. Learning style theory proposes that different people learn in different ways and that it is good to know your own preferred learning style.
Most of us have a particular preference as to how we channel information to our brain. Some of us are auditory. This means that it is easier for us to pay attention to information that is presented to us orally. Others are visual, which means that we learn best when we are allowed to actually look at what is being presented to us. Still others are kinesthetic. This means that we pay attention best when we are allowed to explore “hand on” the information we are trying to learn. In a few cases, individuals are equally balanced, which means they use each learning style to the same degree when attempting to learn.
Think about the last time you wrote a check at the grocery store. When the checker gave you the total did you just write the check? Did you look at the register for verification? Did you take the receipt in hand before writing the check? Your response to these questions might give you some insight as to your learning preference.
Let’s look at an example from the early childhood classroom. When a teacher reads a story, she speaks, which benefits the auditory learner. She shows the illustrations as she reads, which assists the visual learner. The kinesthetic learner is involved if allowed to actually hold the book (or a copy of the book) or help turn the pages as it is read. If the teachers use all three approaches to learning when they are providing information to children, it is more likely that they will use the channel that is their preference and attend to what is being presented.
The lesson of RAIS include activities that appeal to each of the learning styles.
2. Multiple Intelligence
The concept of multiple intelligences is the newest consideration teachers might take into account when planning for individual differences. The Theory of Multiple Intelligences comes from the work of Howard Gardner and was the first published in 1983 in his book, Frames of Mind.
Until Gardner proposed the existence of seven, and now eight, ways of demonstrating one’s high ability levels, popular belief held that intelligence was measured by the score obtained when taking an intelligence test, primarily the Stanford Binet. The problem with the intelligence test was that they measured only an individual’s linguistic and mathematical skills. Gardner argued that there were others ways an individual could be smart. For example, musicians demonstrate a high ability to perceive, discriminate, transform, and express musical forms. Actors, dancers, and athletes demonstrate an expertise in using their whole body to express ideas and feelings. Craftsperson and sculptors show facility in using their hands to produce or transform things.
Gardner not only expanded the identification of the number of ways an individual can be intelligent, but also the definition of intelligence. He suggests that intelligence has more to do with the capacity for solving problems and fashioning products in a context – rich and naturalistic setting than it does with performing isolated tasks on a test.
Gardner believes that intelligence does not just exhibit itself in the score on test.As a matter of fact, he used a stringent system of eight criteria through which all potential skills, talents, and mental capacities have to pass before they are determined to be true human intelligences. Thus far, only eight ways of being smart have passed the test to be recognized as intelligences.
Gardner also believes that everyone possesses all eight intelligences in varying magnitudes. Some intelligences are stronger than others, and the profile of intelligences varies from person to person. Each of the intelligences can improve with practice and will continue to be enhanced over a lifetime.
The eight intelligences and their defining characteristics are described as follow:
- Linguistic (Word Smart):
The capacity to use numbers effectively ( e.g, as a stroller, orator, or politician) or in writing (e.g , as a poet, playwright, editor or journalist). Most teaching today is geared to the expectation that children absorb information by listening, reading, speaking, and writing.
- Logical – Mathematical(Number Smart):
The capacity to use numbers effectively (e.g, as a mathematician, tax accountant, or statistician) and to reason well (e.g as a scientist, computer programmer, or logician). This intelligence also follows traditional teaching practices, using number facts and scientific principles, as well as observation and experimentation. Children who are logic smart respond well to “what” “if” questions.
- Spatial(Picture Smart):
The ability to perceive the visual – spatial world accurately (e.g, as a hunter, scout, or guide) and to perform transformation upon those perception ( e.g as an interior decorator, architect, artist, or inventor) This intelligence involves sensitive to color, line, shape, form, space, and the relationships that exist between these elements. It includes the capacity to visualize and graphically represent visual or spatial ideas.
- Bodily – Kinesthetic (Body Smart):
The ability to use one’s whole body skillfully express ideas and feelings (e.g., as an actor, an athlete, or a dancer) and facility in using one’s hands to produce or transform things (e.g., as a craftsperson, sculptor. Mechanic, or surgeon). This intelligence is related to physical movement and the knowledge/wisdom of the body, including the brain’s motor cortex, which controls bodily motion.
- Musical (Music Smart):
The capacity to perceive (e.g., as a music aficionado), discriminate (e.g, as a performer) musical forms. The musical learner also has the ability to pick up sounds and remember melodies. The musical learner also has ability to pick up sounds and remember melodies. This intelligence is based upon the recognition of tonal patterns, including various environmental sounds, and also sensitivity to rhythm and beats.
- Naturalist(Nature Smart):
The ability to discriminate among living things (e.g ,. As a botanist, biologist, veterinarian, or forest ranger) as well as sensitivity other features of the natural world (e.g., as an meteorologist, geologist or archaeologist). The adeptness to recognize and classify cultural artifacts such as cars or sneakers may also depend upon the naturalist intelligence.
- Interpersonal(People Smart):
The ability to perceive and make distinction in the moods, intentions, motivations, and feelings of other people (e.g. as a teacher, politician, actor, or philanthropist). The ability to process information both verbally and nonverbally through interpretation of all forms of dance, hand gestures, body movements, and music (e.g , as a dancer, mime, actor or musician). This intelligence operates primarily through person - to - person relationship and communication.
- Intrapersonal (Self Smart)
The ability to act adaptively on the basis of that knowledge. This intelligence includes having accurate picture of oneself – strengths and limitations, awareness or inner moods, intentions, motivations, temperaments, and desires, and the capacity for self – discipline, self – understanding, and self – esteem (e.g , as a theologian, psychologist, psychiatrist, or a philosopher). This intelligence is very private and uses other intelligences for self – expression.
Learning centers provide a perfect format for helping teachers plan and implement activities that will appeal to the full range of intelligences. They allow children to engage in active, hands – on, concrete experiences, and ongoing interaction with appropriate materials, equipment, and people in learning environment. Children have the opportunity to approach learning through one of their high ability levels, as well as the opportunity to practice using other ability levels. Learning centers enhance all the ways in which children are intelligent. Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences is now widely accepted in most educational settings. In the past decade it has become a core criterial in curriculum activities that address each of the multiple intelligence. The activities are typical experiences that are usually offered on a regular basis in a developmentally appropriate environment.
3. Developmental Domains
Whole-child instruction supports the concepts that young children are developing in several areas or domains simultaneously and that each of these areas of development is equally important to the child. Not only are the developmental domains equally important, but they are also interwoven. It has been said that the social-emotional well being of the child fuels the intellect. Early brain development research states that social-emotional development and cognitive development walk hand in hand. A child cannot learn when his or her emotional and social well-being are threatened.
Children’s growth is divided into four developmental domains. Cognitive growth centers on the mind and how the mind works as children develop and learn. Physical growth has to do with development of the body and its parts. Social growth centers on the development of skills for interacting with others and emotional growth refers to the development of self-esteem and self-control. Lessons at RAIS support all four areas of growth each day
4. Subjects Areas
Preschool children are learning math, science, social studies, reading (language), music and art -the same subjects as older children in elementary school. For example, when children are building with blocks they are learning math concepts, such as counting – knowing the number of blocks needed for their structure- and geometry-learning the names of the shapes of blocs and the results of putting two or more blocks together. They are learning science as they explore gravity and balance. They are learning social skills and language skills as they cooperate and communicate with one another in a joint effort to build towers, castles, and forts. Skills and concepts are being learned and taught simultaneously. A master teacher is fully aware of what is being learned and how it is being taught during routine classroom activities.
RAIS offers daily activities that promote this kind of integration
5. The interest of the child