Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Quick Study of the Creative Curriculum® Learning Environment

Okay, recalling last Tuesday’s Creative Curriculum® post, my current goal is to move from dogma to practice in my role as a home educator and to begin this by reorganizing my home. Now, not to backstep into theorizing instead of doing as soon as I have begun, but for those who are also theory-and-curriculum addicted right now, let’s put on our study caps for a moment for a quick synopsis of what the Creative Curriculum® is and what it has to say about Learning Environments:

The Creative Curriculum® is a comprehensive play-based program, built upon recognized early childhood development research and theory, including that of Maslow, Erikson, Piaget, Vygotsky, Gardner and Smilansky. Its framework includes five basic components – How Children Learn and Develop, the Learning Environment, What Children Learn, the Teacher’s Roles and the Family’s Role. These five components are applied within 11 interest areas for children – Blocks, Dramatic Play, Toys and Games, Art, Library, Discovery, Sand and Water, Music and Movement, Cooking, Computers and Outdoors. In essence, through its components and interest areas, the Creative Curriculum® offers a blueprint for planning and implementing a developmentally appropriate program for children ages 3-5. It provides a comprehensive guide for this play-based program, where practitioners are encouraged to stay true to the program’s philosophy and decision-making framework, while still incorporating their own interests and teaching styles, as well as information about the children they are teaching, in order to meet success. Implemented with continued dedication and reflection, the Creative Curriculum® most certainly offers opportunities for children to acquire both the social competence and also the skills they need for successful learning and growth.

One component of the Creative Curriculum® is the Learning Environment. Basically, the Creative Curriculum® looks at the Learning Environment from three perspectives: setting up and maintaining a classroom, establishing a structure for each day and creating a classroom community.

The physical indoor space includes 10 interest areas, which offer multiple opportunities for children to explore discover and grow. In each, furniture and materials are thoughtfully arranged to encourage children not only to learn, but also to care for their classroom and what’s in it. (Whoo hoo – much like Montessori – a favorite educational philosophy of mine!)

Structure in the environment is defined by daily routines and schedules which create a sense of order. This outside order helps children maintain inner order. Children know what to expect and what is expected from them. They are assured that their environment is predictable and familiar, allowing them to settle more freely into learning and interaction.

Creating community is part of the children’s social/emotional environment. Educators relate to children in positive ways and help them to do so with other children. With such an affirming social climate, children feel good and are motivated to learn to the best of their abilities within their community.

Whew! Sounds good in theory, but how about in practice? Well, it all begins with a step. So, please excuse me while I take off my study cap and to don hiking boots for a jaunt around my home. While I am at it, I think I will grab a thinking cap, to help me make Step One: Declaring Areas for Interests.

And, by the way, if you would like to join me on this journey, please leave comments.  Grab a copy of the book yourself to review and let me know what you're getting from it.  Or, use my summaries as a starting point for thought.  Tell me how you're moving from theory to practise in your own home.  Cheer me on (or give me constructive criticism) about how I am doing.  Or, simply jot down whatever comes to mind.  Deep conversation or silly banter -- my adventures have always been all the better for sharing both along the way.  Thanks! 


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