How to Develop an Early Learning Program You and the Kids Will Love
Teaching kids is a fulfilling occupation, one that offers challenges, rewards, and spontaneity! Preparing a program takes both insight and inspiration, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. With some research and planning, and thoughtful consideration of your goals and strengths, you can develop an early learning program that you and the kids will love.
This post contains affiliate links.
This is Part 1 of a four-part series: Developing an Early Learning Program. The articles discuss factors you might be considering as you plan, develop and implement an early learning program. Find the complete list of topics in the series at the end of this post.
Part 1 discusses basic principles which I hope will help serve as a foundation for the goals and values you bring to your early learning program.
Part 1: Determining the Goals of your Early Learning Program
What factors will help determine my goals?
Teaching children is a valuable profession that requires patience and understanding, resourcefulness and commitment. The knowledge and insight you bring to the early learning environment may develop and grow over time as you gain experience and additional training, but the initial objective - to deliver a quality program to early learners - will remain the same.
I have enjoyed teaching and interacting with children in preschool and day care settings, part day and full day programs. In my opinion, early childhood educators have a two-fold task ahead of them when they enter the workplace (the learning environment) each day.
1. Early childhood educators are responsible for nurturing and guiding children with responsiveness and sensitivity as well as with appropriate curriculum. This responsibility can be more easily achieved with a knowledge of cognitive skill levels and educational requirements of young children.
This is illustrated effectively in this post series by Carla at Preschool Powol Packets: Developing Early Reading Skills in Preschoolers
2. Early childhood educators must be prepared to play all day while at work! Many proponents of early childhood education advocate play as the most important component on which to build an early learning program. Educating children is a serious business, but it is a job that requires us to be diligent in our efforts to make learning fun.
Developing an Early Learning Program
How can I facilitate the development of a successful early learning program?
- Determine goals and values as well as your teaching style.
- Research age-appropriate resources for activities that support your program.
- Plan activities after carefully considering the interests and skill levels of the children, staff to children ratios, and physical conditions of the learning environment such as floor space, furnishings, and toys and materials.
- Establish a daily schedule and maintain a daily planner.
Building a network of colleagues, parents and teachers - through workshops, seminars, social media, newsletters - is important for interaction and support. This network will be a valuable source of everything from how to set up your classroom, to information related to current regulations and updated curriculum. This will be helpful as you proceed with the development of your program.
Planning and Delivering Your Program
- an environment that fosters independent learning and exploration
- a variety of activities that nurture a wide range of developmental skills
- a daily schedule that flows smoothly from one activity to another
- policies and procedures with open communication between staff and parents
- toys and materials that will spark imagination and creativity
- opportunities for open-ended experiences and exchanges, and guidance to help problem-solve
- kindness and respect in an environment that fosters sharing, caring and fair play
- leadership by being dependable and enthusiastic, and by maintaining a safe environment
The curriculum model(s) early childhood educators draw from may be determined by their training and/or teaching preferences. In some cases a combination of elements from one or more influences may be evident in an early learning program. Established curriculum models include The Montessori Method, The High/Scope® Approach, and The Reggio Emilia Approach. Each theory identifies established teaching practices and learning environments for young children. Some models require certification in order to verify expertise in the delivery of the program.
Regardless of the model(s) used, early learning teachers recognize the value of play for nurturing the development of cognitive, social, physical, fine motor and language skills of the children in their care. The training and experience you bring to the home or classroom as caregivers, parents, and early childhood educators are even more valuable when coupled with the energy and enthusiasm you share during playtime with children as they explore, discover, create, and learn.
Here is the list of posts in this 4-part series:
Part 1: Determining the Goals of your Early Learning Program (you are here)