According to the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), “curriculum is what happens in an educational environment.” At The Nursery School, the children in attendance determine what happens in their educational environment. This self-directed approach gives children ownership of their learning, in turn making it a more meaningful experience for them. For the teachers at The Nursery School, this means being prepared for any learning opportunity that may arise. Our emergent curriculum focuses on the process of learning and evolves based on what the children discover and what they identify as interesting and/or personally meaningful to them.
The natural environment is our classroom, the learning materials are what is found outside, and lessons are guided by the children’s curiosity and the interactions with their environment, materials, and peers. Reggio Emilia’s Carlina Rinaldi states: “We as teachers are asked by children to see them as scientist or philosophers searching to understand something, to draw out a meaning, to grasp a “piece of life,” and to respect this search as a quality central to all human life.” (Rinaldi, 2006. p. 21). This is the role that our staff takes. There is much to discover in this world and we learn from the experiences and our interactions with it, while attempting to make meaning from those interactions.
The Flow of the Day
We will meet the children at drop-off and walk them at their pace to our main camp. It is all about the journey there, so we may make observations and discoveries along the way. The Nursery School Staff may make suggestions or offer choices to shift activities based on the energy and interest level of the children. We will then head out on an initial adventure where children are encouraged to bring a science tool with them (binoculars, paper and pencil, etc.). We move along the trail at a pace that suits the children, stopping to notice insects, plants, wild edibles, or just to listen to nature. We may end up at a tree where children may climb, explore, or build a fort. Children have the opportunity to play and use their imagination. After this exploration time, we will head back to the main camp to rest and have a snack. During snack time, Nursery School Staff document the learning opportunities the children share as they eat. We then will play and explore as we make our way back to the main entrance for parent pickup. Math, literacy, art, and dramatic play are incorporated throughout the each day. The children’s interests guide the day, depending on what questions they have and observations they make about their world. The learning is authentic and meaningful to the children because we build off of the children’s questions and curiosities.
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