Grants allow teachers to enhance learning experiences through interactions, lesson plans and environments.
Day Early Learning centers began a comprehensive update of its curriculum in 2017 thanks to a grant from the Lilly Endowment. While our teachers have utilized The Creative Curriculum for several years, the grant allowed centers to update their materials to the latest version of the research-based curriculum. From planning for each child’s development to ideas on how to build on the interests of each child and encourage deeper learning, these updates ensure that Day Early Learning students have the chance to learn, grow and thrive thanks to the most current research in early childhood education.
Both The Creative Curriculum® for Infants, Toddlers & Twos and The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool, which are used throughout all Day Early Learning classrooms, address all domains of child development. Additionally, they are aligned with The Foundations, Indiana’s early learning development framework.
“The base of the curriculum for every age group starts with relationships and social-emotional skills, and then it builds on academic skills,” notes Dawn Johnson, Day Early Learning quality coach. “Not only are we ensuring that children are academically ready for kindergarten, but that they have the social-emotional skills needed to interact with peers and express their emotions in a positive way.”
In each center, teachers received new teaching guides, instructional resources and assessment tools to enhance each child’s learning experience at the individual level. Teachers are working to create more intentional interactions, meaningful lesson plans and responsive classroom environments designed to build each child’s confidence and critical thinking skills. In classrooms, children and families can see evidence of the new curriculum through teacher documentation of learning and activities.
”The teachers who have really embraced it have included more print at the children’s eye level. You’ll see more signs, charts and meaningful information around the classrooms. This is what we call a print-rich environment which is important for language development. It starts to give meaning to the words that they hear and speak, which supports the development of reading,” said Candice Wise, another Day Early Learning quality coach.
The curriculum was piloted at four centers in early 2017 before being rolled out to all teaching staff at Day Early Learning’s biannual professional training day in October. Teaching staff also receive ongoing support and on-site training from Day Early Learning quality coaches. The coaches work with individual classrooms to move them through the different implementation stages based on their classroom needs. The curriculum calls for a three year process for full implementation.