“I loved the project because it was so cute.” “It was a really cute idea.” “It was easy and cute.”
To me, these statements are almost as bad as being called a babysitter. Quality purposeful and intentional childcare and education is more than ‘cute’. The providers that care about their children being ready for school look to curriculum and programming that is more than cute. Of course, we want learning opportunities that are fun, engaging, and even look good! But they also need to be developmentally ‘more’.
The expectations for children entering kindergarten has greatly changed over the last few years. I think there are several reasons for this:
1. We know more about early brain development and ‘windows of opportunity’ for learning. This knowledge is crucial in providing the ‘right’ activities when children are most apt to benefit from them.
2. All states and some US territories have developed early learning standards that help educators and providers understand what children should know and be able to do at specific ages. This information helps educators and providers know what types of activities, experiences and opportunities to provide for the children in their programs in order to develop specific skills and gain knowledge. See how the Early Learning Success curriculum meets your State Standard Alignment
3. The people in this field are dedicated to the children and families they care for, and want to demonstrate their professionalism by providing the highest quality of care and education possible. This happens by planning activities that are more than just cute!
It takes many things to create programming that addresses the needs of children and at the same time is engaging for all. There is nothing inherently wrong with an activity being cute. I love activities that are fun and engaging. But there has to be more to it than just a time-filling activity using materials that you happened to come across that morning.
Take a look at the ‘Dinosaur Stompers’ – they definitely are cute! But they also address important skill development. When you do this activity with children, you are encouraging fine motor development, large motor development, cognitive development, creative expression and social/emotional development – all of the domains! Directions for Dinosaur Stompers
Purposeful planning takes:
• Understanding the needs of your children through ongoing observation
• Knowledge of child development and early learning standards
• Planning activities that support each child’s mastery of the early learning standards. The Units of Study offered by Early Learning Success Curriculum are theme based curriculum units based on early learning standards that span the ages of birth through school-age.
• Preparation prior to children arriving so that your attention and focus is on them and not on finding the right paint color and enough brushes.
In closing, think about this…..
Are you a babysitter that provides cute activities or are you a professional that is helping children be prepared for school and life success?
Article revised from 2015