In today’s society there are increasing numbers of three and four year olds that are enrolled in preschool programs. Many parents, teachers, and policymakers look to these programs to help prepare children to be successful learners in kindergarten and beyond. However, while programs may appear to provide activities that can promote young children’s learning and development, their educational effectiveness varies. This is due in part to the skills children bring to preschool and to the overall program quality. Effectiveness also relies on a program’s curriculum, or the content of what children learn in preschool and how it is taught.
While policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels recognize the key role preschool programs play in children’s learning and development, they may have less understanding of what constitutes a ‘quality’ preschool program curriculum. Given the multitude of available curriculum models, the confusion regarding which ones are more appropriate for young children overall or specific populations of three and four year olds is understandable. According to Bredekamp and Copple, the field of early childhood education does recommend program practices within a broad range of acceptable methods called Developmentally Appropriate Practices, the field does not promote any single curriculum model as “best,” and no state government or federal entity mandates use of just one particular curriculum in their publicly funded preschool programs. (p.28) However, if one of the goals of preschool programs is to improve children’s school success by enhancing their early abilities, programs do need to decide the content of what children should learn, as well as how they will best learn it.
To a greater extent than in K-12 settings, the term “curriculum” can have a variety of meanings in preschool programs. Some feel that a curriculum must detail exactly what to teach, and when and how to teach it.... [continues]
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