C is for Curriculum – The ABC of Early Years Education
The terms curriculum and pedagogy are inextricably linked. It is important that early years educators are clear on the distinction between them.
In a nutshell, curriculum is what we teach – guided by the EYFS – whilst pedagogy is how we teach it.
When we talk about an early years curriculum, this isn’t solely about preparing children for school or having a focus on a narrow range of academic subjects, it needs to be much wider – encompassing the knowledge, skills, capabilities, interests, dispositions, values, and beliefs children need to develop for life, focused on each individual’s character and background.
All children have a right to be confident in their own identity and valued as a person. We want them to be happy, kind, fun, compassionate, caring, empathetic, optimistic, creative, inquisitive, and open minded.
But these characteristics are not learned through academic study and are difficult to measure. They are mostly acquired as children experience being around people who exhibit them.
It is, therefore, the responsibility of all early years educators working with our children to model and make these dispositions visible to them.
Our teaching needs to:
- Be ambitious for every child, to enable him/her to fully participate in society – to the extent that they have the capacity to do so.
- Not be prescriptive.
- Guide children on their own learning and path to independence building.
- Encourage, support, value, and celebrate each child’s expression of their interests and achievements.
Challenging misogyny, racism, poor self-esteem, and relationship issues, needs to take place in a child’s earliest years of life – over and above teaching more academic subjects such as mathematics and knowledge and understanding of the world.
Research tells us that self-regulation, a sense of self-worth, and independence building are far more important than assessing whether a child can recall subject-specific knowledge.
Children need to feel loved, valued, and that they are worthy for who they are rather than what they do or know.
Every child is different and will learn in different ways and at varying paces – and it’s our job to help and support them to be the best versions of themselves through what we teach, our curriculum, and how we teach it, our pedagogy.