Online Companion: Beginning Essentials in Early Childhood Education

Chapter 10: Curriculum Essentials

Chapter Review Questions

  1. List the 10 guidelines for developmentally appropriate curriculum.
  2. Define emergent curriculum.
  3. Define culturally appropriate curriculum.
  4. Is teacher-directed learning ever appropriate in developmentally appropriate programs? If so, when?
  5. In the Reggio Emilia model, what are the fundamental differences in the teacher's role from that of most American early childhood programs?



Chapter Learning Objectives

  1. To introduce students to basic curriculum concepts and learn to apply them to curriculum planning.
    • What is the connection between emergent curriculum and developmentally appropriate practices in early childhood?
    • Do you believe that a theme approach to curriculum planning is valid? Justify your response.
  2. To help students understand the concepts of developmentally and culturally appropriate curriculum.
    • Look at the Guidelines for Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum on page 346 of the text. Summarize them as though you were explaining them to a parent. Which of the guidelines are easiest for you to remember? Which are the hardest?
    • What issues are common to the children in your classroom that could lend themselves to infusion of multicultural content? How can you avoid a "tourist approach" to creating a more culturally sensitive curriculum?
  3. To provide students with several models of good early childhood curriculum.
    • Research each of the curriculum models found in Chapter 10. Compare and contrast them in terms of developmental appropriateness; ability to be culturally appropriate; appropriate age levels; amount of teacher direction; amount of child-initiated activities; level of integrated curriculum; and adaptability to projects, multiple intelligences, and learning styles.
    • How is play supported in the curriculum models found in Chapter 10?
  4. Research a different documented approach to curriculum, such as Montessori, and compare it with the High/Scope approach. How do they differ? Where are they similar? If possible, observe classrooms where these two models are being used. Which did you prefer? Why?



Topic: Curriculum Approaches
Find the Web site for High/Scope at Research the Preschool Curriculum Project.

  • List three implications for curriculum development based on the findings of this study.
  • Discuss the three models studied here. Do you think the Direct Instruction model should be used at any time in the preschool curriculum? If not, why? If so, when?
  • Research one or more of these six popular curriculum approaches to early childhood education: the Montessori method, the Bank Street Developmental-Interaction approach, the High/Scope Curriculum, the Kamii-DeVries constructivist approach, Reggio Emilia approach, and the Direct Instruction model. What advantages, disadvantages, or both to these individual teaching approaches have you discovered? Can the strengths of various approaches be incorporated into an early childhood curriculum? If so, how?

Reflect on These Questions:

  1. How important are these longitudinal studies? How do they influence the way in which teachers teach?
  2. Why is evaluation key to determining program effectiveness for each child? What kinds of assessment tools could you use to track a child's progress? How can evaluating daily activities help with assessment?
  3. Why should you strive for careful planning, evaluation, and flexibility when determining a curriculum for your students?



American Montessori Society

The American Montessori Society Web site contains the history of the Montessori movement and Maria Montessori and the Society's mission. Montessori publications, position papers, peace activities, and public policy resources are also available. There is information on the American Montessori Society's Teacher Education program also.


The High/Scope Web site provides information on its curriculum model and a catalog of its printed materials, such as books, preschool assessments, literacy assessments, and videos. The results of the Perry Preschool Project, which is more than 40 years old, are available.

Project Approach

To learn more about the Project Approach to curriculum, go to this Web site. The definition, description, and structure of the Project Approach is spelled out clearly. There are Project examples for preschool through grade 6. Resources such as a bibliography and CD are available.

Reggio Emilia

Search for "Cyert Center."
The Cyert Center for Early Education at Carnegie Mellon University is a program modeled after the schools of Reggio Emilia. The history of the Reggio Emilia approach, an overview of the practices in Reggio Emilia, and Reggio Emilia resources are available through this Web site.

Bank Street

The underlying educational philosophy of the Bank Street Model is available through this Web site. A complete curriculum guide, description of the program and activities, publications, and continuing education are also highlighted.


Answers to Chapter Review Questions

  1. The 10 guidelines are as follows: promotes interactive learning; encourages development of positive feelings toward learning; is meaningful and relevant to children's lives; has realistic and attainable expectations; builds on child's current knowledge; is sensitive to cultural and linguistic diversity; allows children meaningful choices; fosters exploration and inquiry; promotes social interaction; and provides experiences that enhance feelings of success and competence.
  2. Emergent curriculum is a process approach for curriculum planning that draws on the teacher's observations and children's interests. Plans emerge from daily-life interests and issues. This approach takes advantages of children's spontaneity and teacher's planning.
  3. Culturally appropriate curriculum modifies the total school environment so that diverse ethnic and cultural groups will experience equal educational opportunities. The curriculum reflects the plurality of American society in general and the individual classroom in particular.
  4. There is a continuum of teaching behaviors that is appropriate to any high-quality program. They range from non-directive to a more teacher-directed approach. It is useful for teachers to demonstrate or direct when information or materials are complex, when the concept is unfamiliar to children, when teaching certain skills, and when communicating new information.
  5. In the Reggio Emilia approach, there are co-teachers who are considered facilitators of children's growth and development and who ask a great many questions of the children to guide the process of open discovery. They often do not have degrees and are supported in their work by a pedagogista who has early childhood training. Teachers are considered to be researchers as they discuss and prepare their work with children. They use transcripts of children's dialogue and photograph their projects, then display them artfully, using this documentation as a form of communication. Teachers work very closely with the parents of the children in the school and with the members of the school board.