Serving children ages 2.9 - 5, the Sharon Cooperative School believes in the benefits of an emergent curriculum that is child-driven and play-based.
The classroom offers a variety of daily activities, allowing each child to do what they like but also explore new things. It’s helped my son who normally was not that interested in art and writing develop an interest in his own time.
- Coop Parent, 2022
The Emergent Curriculum
We believe that a child’s interest, strengths and needs should drive learning. Through effective observation strategies and questioning, teachers come to understand the unique characteristics each child brings: their passions, skills and needs.
The Sharon Cooperative School curriculum brings together the ideas, skills and experiences of children, educators and families when designing activities and creating programming. It can best be described as played based and child driven. It is a fluid, dynamic curriculum that builds on the passions, skills and needs of the children and based upon the following key principles:
- Developmentally based: children at all developmental levels can access each activity. Activities are open-ended with a variety of possible outcomes. What is important is the process, not the end product.
- Team planning: each educator contributes to the planning of the daily activities in all classrooms. Families are encouraged to contribute their own personal skills and hobbies as well as their cultural and personal identities to enhance and extend classroom activities and to plan enrichment programs that will be open to children enrolled in the school.
- Child centered: With a thorough understanding of individual children’s interests and readiness, educators select activities that are relevant and exciting and that encourage exploration and discovery while enhancing children’s emerging skills. Educators monitor the level of engagement and will extend activities if a particular subject emerges about which the children show a great deal of interest.
- Field trips, special visitors and all school family events are planned to enrich daily classroom activities and to develop a family support community within the school.
What is emergent curriculum?
The belief that the child’s own interest, strengths and needs should drive learning. Through effective observation strategies and questioning, teachers come to understand the unique characteristics each child brings: their passions, skills and needs.
What is the role of the teacher?
Guided by this understanding, the teacher plans curricula, activities, projects and open-ended exploration that allow students to be the agents of their own learning. Activities resonate with the students and validate their perspectives.
Why is the approach described as play-based?
Play is the language of childhood and the lens through which children learn to make sense of their world. The classroom environment, created through thoughtful choices around materials, activities and routines, encourages social play that is imaginative, open ended and language rich.
What are the learning goals for the children?
Infuse children with a desire to discover, explore and learn about our world.
Help develop the world of the child (in all domains – cognitive, physical, social, emotional, aesthetic, and spiritual)
Help children develop self-help skills with opportunities to discover their personal strengths.
Develop kindergarten readiness:
- Literacy Skills including understanding the relationship between oral language and print; understanding the basis of our alphabetic system; building strong phonemic awareness and vocabulary, developing enthusiasm for books and story telling and engaging in purposeful writing.
- Math: Develop foundational skills in math including counting with one-to-one correspondence, understanding cardinality, subitizing, estimating, categorizing, measuring, and using math daily for practical purposes.
- Science: Life & earth sciences with an emphasis on local flora & fauna, seasonal changes, weather, the cyclical nature of growth and reproducation (plants, insects, frogs, salamanders, etc).
- Understanding and applying the principles of scientific inquiry such as making hypotheses, testing theories, collecting data, verifying and documenting results.
- Technology & engineering skills through the planning and building of structures and obstacles courses with blocks, ramps, planks, sticks, balls and other elements and engaging in guided reflections on cause and effect and the principals of mechanical physics.
- Social studies: Understanding concepts of identity, community and our inter-connectedness; exploring traditions, cultures and fellowship within and among our families and how we care for one another through acts of compassion and service
- Develop foundational skills including large and fine motor skills, self-regulation, learning to follow directions, and learning how to think through problems. Develop the ability for children to advocate only not for their own needs and interests but also those of their community.
How is progress measured?
Documentation through examples of children’s work, teacher observations, portfolios and embedded assessment are all tools that demonstrate student progress. This and other information is shared at parent-teacher conferences, held twice yearly.
How will I know what my child is doing all day?
Examples of students work, posted in the around hallways, classrooms and on documentation boards and daily blogposts to families full of pictures serve to make learning visible, spark discussion, extend ideas and further learning.
What about Kindergarten readiness?
The curriculum is aligned with the Massachusetts Common Core State Standards (the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for Pre-Kindergarten to Twelve) and guided by the NAEYC standards. Additionally, in the 35+ years that the Sharon Cooperative School has operated its preschool, it has developed a strong relationship with Sharon Public Schools and in particular its Early Learning Program (The Children's Center). Our school consistently receives positive feedback from parents and Sharon school staff regarding the Kindergarten readiness of Coop graduates.
I love that it is small enough that all the staff know all students. It truly feels like a community.
- Former parent
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