The curriculum fosters the development of children’s self-esteem, a sense of competence, and positive feelings toward learning. Home Away From Home has developed and created a theme-related, developmentally appropriate curriculum with input from many professionals in the early childhood field. This curriculum is all about learning and exploring one’s environment through play. This is called reggio emilia based curriculum. This type of curriculum helps give the child the confidence they need to be independent and grow emotionally, physically, cognitively, and socially. Home Away From Home uses theme based lesson planning where we take the children’s interests and base our lesson plans around that theme.
Since each child is viewed as a unique person with an individual pattern and timing of growth, curriculum and instruction are responsive to individual differences in ability and interests. Different levels of ability, development, and learning styles are expected, accepted and are considered when implementing the curriculum. Children are allowed to move at their own pace in acquiring important skills including those of writing, reading, spelling, math, social studies, science, art, music, health and physical activity.
The curriculum is integrated so that children’s learning in all traditional subject areas occurs primarily through small cooperative learning groups and learning centers, that teachers plan and that reflect children’s interests and suggestions. Teachers guide children's involvement in projects and enrich the learning experience by extending children’s ideas, responding to their questions, engaging them in conversation, and challenging their thinking.
The curriculum is integrated so that learning occurs primarily through projects, learning centers, and playful activities that reflect current interests of children. For example, a social studies project, such as building and operating a store or a science project such as furnishing and caring for an aquarium, provide focused opportunities for children to…plan, draw and write about their activity, discuss what they are doing, work cooperatively with other children, learn facts in a meaningful context, and enjoy learning.
Teachers use much of their planning time to prepare the environment so children can learn through active involvement with each other. Many learning centers are available for children. These centers include opportunities for drawing, writing, reading, using math manipulatives and playing language games. Some of the children’s work is reviewed in small groups where children take turns giving feedback to one another. Errors are viewed as a natural and necessary part of learning. Teachers, however, analyze children’s errors and use the information obtained to plan curriculum and instruction.
With teacher guidance, individual children or small groups of children are expected to work and play cooperatively alongside each other in learning centers. They typically engage in projects that they have selected or helped to design. Activity centers are changed frequently, providing the children with new things to do. Teachers and children select and develop projects cooperatively. Community outings and visits from resource people are planned to enhance the theme activities.
Learning materials and activities are considered to be concrete, real, and relevant to children’s lives. Objects children can manipulate and experiment with such as blocks, cards, games, woodworking tools, arts and crafts materials, and scientific equipment are readily accessible. Tables are used for children to work alone or in small groups. A variety of work places and spaces is provided and flexibility used.
The goals of the whole language program are for children to expand their ability to communicate orally and expressively through reading, drawing, and writing, while enjoying these activities. Teachers provide generous amounts of time and a variety of interesting activities for children to develop language, writing, spelling, (inventive spelling) and reading ability, such as: looking through, reading, or being read high quality children’s literature.
Since children’s receptive skills are generally more advanced than their expressive and independent reading skills, this is greatly considered when planning the whole language program.
Subskills such as learning letters, phonics, and word recognition are taught to individual children and in small groups. However, individualized programming is more prevalent than small group instruction. Teachers use the teacher’s edition of the basal reader series as a guide to plan projects and hands-on activities relevant to what is read and to structure learning situations. Teachers accept children’s drawings and invented spelling with minimal reliance on teacher-prescribed spelling lists. All efforts to communicate are reinforced.
The goal of the math component is to enable children to use math through exploration, discovery, and solving meaningful problems. Math activities are integrated with other relevant projects, such as science and social studies. Math skills are acquired through spontaneous play, projects, and situation of daily living. Teachers use the teacher’s edition of the math textbooks as a guide only to structure learning situations. “Hands-on” math through math manipulatives, interesting board and card games, paper-and-pencil activities, and other kinds of games are used daily. Noncompetitive, impromptu oral “math stumper” and number games are played for practice.