Heartland Head Start (HHS) uses The Creative Curriculum for Preschool. The text is based on the theory and research of Abraham Maslow, Erick Erikson, Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, Howard Gardner, and Sara Smilansky, as well as brain and learning/resiliency research.
The Creative Curriculum guides the teacher’s understanding of the child’s growth and development. It discusses how to set up an optimal learning environment and offers ideas for effective teaching in the areas of literacy, math, science, social studies, arts and technology. Furthermore, the text helps educators understand the role that both the teaching staff and the family play in a child’s education.
The Creative Curriculum’s educational approach provides key developmental indicators for children’s learning, classroom enviornment, teacher-child interactions, and family engagement. In addition, the curriculum model provides an opportunity for the teaching staff to integrate all aspects of HHS service areas (health, nutrition, disabilities, parent and community engagement and mental health) into the daily routine and lesson plan.
The majority of the goals of Creative Curriculum are to provide opportunities for children to become independent, responsible, and confident.
The Creative Curriculum has identified five components significant to childhood development:
- How Children Develop and Learn – Although children typically develop on a continuum, each child develops at his or her own pace and each child is a unique individual.
- The Learning Environment - The learning environment must meet the developmental needs of each child. All children, regardless of their capabilities, must feel as though they belong to the classroom. The way the classroom is organized, the daily schedule, a consistent routine and creating a classroom community are all key to a positive and inviting classroom.
- What Children Learn – Skills in the learning domains/objectives in; Social - Emotional, Physical, Language, Cognitive, Literacy, Mathematics, Science & Technology, Social Studies, The Arts, and English Language Acquisition.
- Caring and Teaching – The teaching staff must be able to effectively observe, guide, and assess children’s learning in order to decide what and how to teach each individual child in the classroom.
- Partnering with Families – Teaching staff must value the role of the family and view them as the child’s first teacher. Teaching staff must communicate with a child’s family, make families feel welcome, partner with families to support their child’s learning, and properly respond to challenging situations that arise with families.
Early Head Start also uses The Creative Curriculum, which has similar components to those listed above. The five components are: Knowing Infants, Toddlers and Twos, Creating a Responsive Environment, What Children are Learning, Caring and Teaching and Partnering With Families.