Curriculum is a Funny Word

My reflections from the year.

To a preschooler, curriculum can be a funny word. Maybe even a tongue twister, however to teachers and parents it seems to be a word we all take quite seriously. Curriculum has been a word that holds different meanings for different parts of a school’s community. We are all on a journey of embracing curriculum as it changes for each school environment, culture, philosophy, and the needs and wants of families.


Throughout my years of working in various schools with various approaches to curriculum, the same overarching question exists for parents as well as educators.


What are the children learning?


While this is a very important question, we as educators strive to go a bit deeper and focus on ‘how are the children learning’? We can all agree that the early years of learning are so special. These are the years when children are learning through materials that awaken their senses through imagination, play and wonderment. It is through this type of engagement that a rich emergent curriculum is born. I remember the day I stopped referring to myself as a ‘teacher’ and I began to see myself as a facilitator. Allowing the children to guide me through three very important inquiries of learning.


What do the children already know?


What do they ‘want’ to know?


What have they learned?


This approach to teaching is one I have joyfully embraced within the past two decades of my teaching career. While there are many different approaches to learning, this approach seems to be the best fit for my engagement with very young children. I am inspired by the Barrow Street teacher (facilitators) who are all individual thinkers, who come with their own gifts, passions, and processes. As a community, we approach curriculum from a place where we honor ‘learning’ the child before we ‘teach’ the child. It has been a pleasure facilitating this ongoing process of this emergent curriculum journey while working with children individually, as well as in small and full group work.


As facilitators of learning we are always becoming more aware of how to step back and observe, not only what the children are doing in the space but ‘why’ and ‘how’ it is being done. Engaging children through this lens is a process and it sometimes is not so easy to see the results right away. Sometimes there is no plan and at other times there is. Provocations have been a wonderful and fun way to observe learning domains while supporting children through their journey of growth.


Journey into Early Childhood defines provocations as… “deliberate and thoughtful decisions made by the teacher to extend the ideas of the children. Teachers provide materials, media, and general direction as needed, but the children take the ideas where they want.


I asked myself a lot this year…


What do children want from ‘Curriculum’?









It has been all that and so much more! A truly great year exploring together!