A large part of running a daycare or child care center involves educating young children and preparing them for kindergarten. Curriculum (a course of study) structures lesson plans while giving children a head start and a solid foundation for future learning. Daily lesson plans provide a sense of order and a means of supporting critical learning goals and objectives. But where do you get your lesson plans, and if you plan to write curriculum yourself, how do you go about it?
We looked to Donna McClintock, chief operating officer of Children’s Choice Learning Centers, a national leader in quality education-based child care with 47 locations across the nation. We asked McClintock for more information about the basics of selecting and creating developmentally-appropriate curriculum for young children in daycare.
OwnADaycare: How do you define developmentally-appropriate curriculum (DAP) curriculum?
Donna McClintock:Developmentally appropriate practice, or DAP, is an approach used in early childhood education where all practices and decisions for teaching are based on research on how young people develop and learn in addition to what is individually appropriate, based on the specific strengths and needs of each child determined through an assessment, and culturally important as defined by a child’s community and family structure.
Children’s Choice Learning Centers’ curriculum, Children’s Choice Classics® develops the whole child: mind, body, social self, and character. It fosters children’s critical thinking and creativity by offering concrete learning experiences based on the interests and abilities of each child. Research validates that children learn best when they feel safe, loved, and valued. It is extremely important to build a strong relationship with each child first as a foundation for their lifelong journey of discovery. Our approach to learning promotes a love for reading and empowers children to become confident, successful lifelong learners.
Children’s Choice Classics® includes rich experiences in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), while offering a focus on character development and all activities are planned based on the interests, abilities, and needs of the individual children in care.
OwnADaycare: What are some DAP curriculum topics for toddlers?
Donna McClintock: A developmentally appropriate topic for toddlers could be any subject that the toddlers show interest in or any topic from a book that is appropriate for their age group. The challenge lies in keeping the topic to their level. If there is a great construction project going on outside your window and the toddlers are very interested in the machines, perhaps “Tractors” is a good, developmental, curriculum topic for toddlers. If they hardly notice the event, it might not be. It also might not appeal to everyone, so ensuring that lesson plans are only completed for 3-4 toddlers (small group or even individually) is the only way one can ensure that the needs of the entire group are met, one child at a time.
Children’s Choice Classics® is drawn from wonderful classic and contemporary books which are developmentally appropriate for toddlers, like:
- Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
- Have You Seen My Duckling? by Nancy Tafuri
- More! by Shelagh Noble
- Here Are My Hands by Bill Martin, Jr.
- Bouncing Fun by Donna McClintock and Misty Henry
- Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
- Tickle Tickle by Helen 0xenbury
We have chosen to infuse literacy into everything we do. Thus, we focus on introducing a new book every two weeks and reading it to toddlers every day. Toddlers love repetition. We read MANY books to them each day, but for two weeks, we ensure that we read this focus book to them every day at least once. They become familiar with this book and at the end of the two week period, we place it in the classroom library where it is a choice for them. We also try to incorporate experiences for them inspired by this new focus book that each toddler would find interesting, based on our assessment of the toddlers in the program, their family culture and community.
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