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Emergent Curriculum

In the creation of an emergent curriculum, our understanding of children guides our decision making. We view children as competent, full of wonder, willing to investigate, critique, reflect and collaborate. This understanding shapes our decisions about how to arrange our classroom environment, schedule our days, and plan our curriculum.

 In an emergent environment, on the other hand, children are free to create learning that is personally meaningful by pushing aside a traditional schedule in favor of one that can more easily accommodate the whims and curiosities of developing imaginations. By allowing children time to completely investigate that which they consider interesting, develop skills based on individual and group inquiry, create hypotheses about what it is that fascinates them and study life systems, spatial relationships, cause and effect, etc. at their own speed, they become intrinsically connected to their own learning and build upon the learning that happens within their school community.


Therefore, curriculum planning for the classroom is based on observation. Teachers observe children as they play, paying close attention to recurring themes, developmental issues, and underlying questions. Observations then guide curriculum planning, as we create opportunities for children to deepen their thinking, represent their understandings, and encounter new perspectives.


Teachers consider relationships to be essential to this step. Teachers emphasize relationship building and cooperation among children, and between teachers and children. Teachers actively seek out collaboration with other teachers and with families, asking and encouraging questions about children’s play, and sharing their observations. When we ask families to share their perspectives and invite them to help us make decisions about classroom life and curriculum, we enrich our understanding and include families in the life children live at school.