Curriculum is a comprehensive guide detailing the learning goals for children. Curriculum includes instructional units, lesson plans, the resources and materials that will be used, teaching strategies, activities, and assessments.
Educators use a curriculum to guide their planning in order to meet early learning standards for the children in their care.
Early learning standards define the key aspects of development and learning that are the foundation for a child’s school and life-long success. While the progress of children toward the standards will vary depending on a number of factors, the standards act as a guide for educational and programmatic decisions by childcare providers.
While each state develops its own Early Learning Standards, commercial curriculums emphasize developmentally appropriate content and outcomes.
A developmentally appropriate curriculum allows for flexibility in achieving standards. Educators must use their knowledge of early learning standards and individual children's needs to tailor lesson plans to meet the needs of all children. Educators should be able to adjust the sequence of lessons and provide modifications and accommodations for those children who require them. In addition, consideration for learning styles and cultural differences will inform how the educator uses the curriculum.
Curriculum should be seen as a framework and a guide but should never take precedence over the individual needs of children. Educators should use information gained from observations to guide their lessons.
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