Dear Parents of la ribambelle,
For many years now, Early Childhood Educators were encouraged to choose weekly themes, such as the oceans, seasons, dinosaurs, etc. to teach children in childcare settings. The educators would guide children in their learning experience while following a rigid schedule and by presenting predetermined activities. The centers were similar to classrooms found in a school setting. This traditional model has been reconsidered because it was imposing limits on to children.
During the early years, children are constantly discovering their surroundings and want to learn in the moment about what interests them. It is through reflecting on our own childhood that we realize we have been pulling away from our own roots. It is important now to favor a type of environment where children are valued and where learning is play-based. To achieve this goal, we want to adopt a more emergent curriculum.
An emergent curriculum is a method of planning that is led by children and facilitated by the educators. By observing the children’s interactions and listening to their questions, we learn about their interests, experiences and needs. By observing children, educators can better plan, document and reflect on the children’s interests and this gives us a direction with which to base our activities.
We realize that children often have a specific intention during free play and they are exploring new concepts and theories. With this new philosophy, childcare centers are viewed as rooms filled with explorers ready to discover their environment and test out their own solutions with the support of the educators.
We research together with the children and guide them through their own discoveries of the world surrounding them. Once the educator sees an idea emerging from the child, he or she can brainstorm to find new opportunities to explore that idea in greater depth. At la ribambelle, we find that this approach reflects our own values and what we believe early childhood should be like.
The classroom environment also plays a vital role in an emergent curriculum. We prepare it to stimulate and engage children, with the intent of creating stable atmospheres that include learning centers that resemble home-like settings. It is also a place where invitations are set up to entice children to play, discover and learn by using a variety of open ended materials that do not impose any particular direction through play. The environment reflects the values of the educators, of the children and of the families attending the center and demonstrates the learning that takes place. The playground becomes an outdoor classroom where children can explore and stretch their imagination in the outside world. Through exploring these environments, children learn concept of literacy and numeracy and also develop their social, emotional, cognitive, language and physical abilities.