What makes an early learning curriculum high-quality?

A high-quality early childhood curriculum is characterized by several key elements that collectively contribute to fostering optimal learning and development in young children. Here are the essential components that make a curriculum truly high-quality.  

  1. It’s developmentally appropriate: A high-quality curriculum aligns with the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical developmental stages of young children, providing activities and experiences that are suitable for their age and  individual needs.
  2. It uses a play-based approach: The curriculum emphasizes the importance of play as a primary vehicle for learning. Play allows children to explore, experiment, problem-solve, and engage in meaningful interactions that follow their own interests and foster positive development.
  3. It offers hands-on learning experiences: The curriculum offers a wide range of hands-on, experiential activities that encourage exploration, creativity and critical thinking. These activities should be designed to engage multiple senses and promote active child-led learning.
  4. It’s inclusive and culturally responsive: The curriculum reflects diverse cultures, backgrounds, abilities and perspectives, ensuring that all children feel represented, respected and valued within the classroom.
  5. It approaches child development holistically: The curriculum addresses various domains of development, including cognitive, social-emotional, physical, language and literacy, recognizing that these are interconnected and all important in the early years.
  6. It focuses on responsive and individualized teaching: The curriculum supports teachers in adapting activities to meet the needs and interests of each child, fostering personalized learning experiences that promote optimal growth and development.
  7. It includes language and literacy learning experiences: The curriculum provides ample opportunities for language development and literacy skills through storytelling, conversation, and reading activities.
  8. It offers support for social and emotional learning (SEL): The curriculum integrates activities that promote self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and relationship-building, nurturing children’s emotional intelligence and well-being.
  9. It includes opportunities for collaboration and communication: The curriculum encourages communication and collaboration among young children (or parallel play for the youngest learners), enabling them to work together, share ideas, and develop interpersonal skills. 
  1.  It incorporates assessment and progress monitoring: The curriculum incorporates ongoing assessment methods that help educators track children’s progress, identify strengths and areas for improvement and make informed decisions.
  2. It supports educators in their professional development: The curriculum provider provides best practices and tips for educators when using the curriculum, as well as professional development opportunities for educators, enabling them to effectively implement and monitor the learning activities.
  3. It prioritizes family engagement: The curriculum promotes strong partnerships between educators and families though involving parents in their child’s learning journey through regular communication and updates, giving them deeper insight and understanding into their child’s development and learning process.
  4. It is flexible and adaptable to all children’s needs: The curriculum offers a balance between structured learning activities and open-ended opportunities for teacher creativity, allowing educators to tailor lessons to the specific needs and interests of their students.
  5. It is research-based: The curriculum is grounded in research and best practices in early childhood education, ensuring that it aligns with current understanding of how young children learn and develop.
  6. It is grounded in continuous improvement: The curriculum is regularly updated and refined based on feedback from educators, parents, and ongoing research, ensuring its relevance and effectiveness over time. 

A high-quality early childhood curriculum integrates these elements to create a comprehensive and engaging educational experience that lays a strong foundation for lifelong learning and success. A curriculum that follows the above tenets will improve employee retention, parent satisfaction and child outcomes.

To learn more about how HiMama supports early childhood classrooms with expert-designed, research-backed and ready to use curriculum kits, click here!

Maddie Hutchison

Maddie is a Registered Early Childhood Educator with a Master's in Early Childhood Studies. Her specialty is in Children's Rights and she is currently a Content Strategist for HiMama!

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