I am going to share with you 5 tips for finding the best curriculum – the tips that I have learned along the way and wish I would have known from the beginning.
I have invested a lot of time and money into preschool curriculums, and the verdict is that I didn’t love hardly any of them. In fact, I hardly liked them. They fell short of my expectations or wishes, and then I was left with low quality curriculum and less money. I never thought it would be so hard to find a fantastic preschool or kindergarten curriculum, but it truly is!
Let me help you avoid this by giving you my best tips and tricks for finding the best curriculum for you!
I am partnering with my friend Leah today to bring you this post! She inspired me to write about finding a great curriculum because she is as picky as I am. In fact, she’s made her own curriculum from scratch, and I can’t wait to share with you about it a little bit later.
Here are 5 tips for choosing the best curriculum!
- Every Great Curriculum Needs to Meet Your Child’s Needs
Whether you have a classroom full of preschoolers or you are homeschooling, a curriculum will be completely worthless unless it meets the needs of the children!
I have three criteria to judge this with:
- Interest level – How interested is the child in the curriculum? If a child is not excited about what they are learning, your enthusiasm will quickly die out too. Avoid curriculum that sounds rigorous and look at programs that are inviting and exciting! Think hands-on activities, sensory play, nature walks, reading together, and more.
- Developmentally Appropriate – This is kind of a fancy way of saying “Is this program at the child’s level?” If a child is constantly frustrated with an activity or topic and finding ways to avoid participating, then you probably have your answer. That doesn’t mean that every great curriculum makes us want to stop what we are doing to go dive in, but it should capture the child’s attention and be something they find engaging.
- Adaptability – Is the curriculum going to meet your child’s needs now and later in the year? Children develop in spurts! Sometimes children want to spend more than a week studying the same topic, and that is exciting. It is a sign of deeper learning and that a passion is building. Children learn best from topics they find meaning in, not just because we repeat ideas and concepts to them over and over again. Every curriculum should be adaptable so that we can spend the right amount of time focusing on it.
- Every Great Curriculum Needs to Accommodate Different Learning Styles
I mentioned earlier how many curriculums have let me down. It happens in this area the most!
Sometimes I walk into a store and pick up a preschool book and see page after page of worksheets. Yikes! Most three-year-olds don’t even have proper pencil grasp, and we should not be expecting them to do writing work that is actually designed for first and second grade.
The problem is that very few children at this age are wired for that type of work. Give them a few years, and that will increase. But preschoolers and kindergartners should be moving, using hands-on activities, playing outside, and splashing in puddles!
Here are some quick tips on learning styles:
A physical or tactile learner needs movement and activity. Dancing and running and jumping engage them. They interact with their surroundings and seek lots of sensory input.
A visual learner enjoys learning through methods such as science experiments or watching an event or activity. They are always observing and soaking in details throughout the day.
An auditory learner takes in information best when they hear it. They love to converse about the information floating around in their minds.
If you want to learn even more about children’s learning styles, Leah actually wrote an e-book on the topic, which is available in her e-course.
- Every Great Curriculum Needs to be Developed by a Child Expert
This one is so easily overlooked! I have seen so many programs made for preschoolers that are developed by people with no formal experience or education in child development.
Every week that I work on putting together my curriculum, I am drawing from 15 years of experience and the topics that I learned through my degree as well as what I have sought out and researched. When I look through a curriculum I can tell within moments what type of background the creator has.
A great curriculum is more than just putting together ideas. It is a collaboration of experience, knowledge, an understanding of children, and proven methods for helping children learn and succeed.
If you are purchasing a curriculum, you deserve to have a child-focused program developed by an experienced professional!
- Every Great Curriculum Should Be Beneficial to the Adult!
Curriculum is not just for students! A well-developed curriculum should be giving you helpful tips and strategies which will make you a better teacher or homeschooler. Anyone can look up ideas on Pinterest and Facebook, but a great curriculum will provide you tools to do more than you could do on your own!
My favorite part about reading through an amazing curriculum is learning something new. I love to hear expert tips and tidbits. A great curriculum is one that you read over and over again because you gain something new each time.
- Every Great Curriculum Needs to Use the Environment
It is easy to think of learning as happening inside, but a classroom is only one place to learn. Learning takes place everywhere. It happens in school, at home, at the grocery store, and one of the best places to learn is outdoors!
I don’t know about you, but I am always in awe of those beautiful videos about forest schools! In Leah’s curriculum, she goes into detail about the benefits of nature.
Here were some of the points she explained in the curriculum introduction:
- It supports multiple domain development
- Creativity and problem-solving skills are gained
- There is increased behavior and less ADD-like behaviors
- Improves social relations
- It reduces stress
I love that learning happens in so many ways, and we don’t have to find a table inside and look at a paper.
Now I want to tell you more about this incredible nature-based curriculum that I have been using to help homeschool my own children.
A Child’s World Pre-K/Kindergarten Curriculum
There are very few curriculum programs that I would ever recommend! But I was so thrilled when I met Leah and learned about her curriculum called A Child’s World.
Leah has a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and as a Reading Specialist, and she completely understands how children learn. Leah has developed a curriculum as well as an e-course online so that anyone can access her program and get help along the way.
Leah has worked in the classroom and currently homeschools her two adorable boys. I love the activities she has put together in her curriculum. She considers all of the learning domains in such a natural way that it feels magical just reading it, and we have so much fun implementing the activities. They have been simple to put into our day, but I can tell that the benefits are incredible. She thinks of it all — from the kitchen, to amazing books, sensory play, and so much more!
My favorite part about Leah’s curriculum is how organized she is! I can easily piece together an amazing curriculum, but organization and follow through are not my strength. Leah combines a fantastic program and makes it completely attainable. If you go through her course, she walks you through every step of the way and even has a facebook tribe for like-minded families and educators.
If you are looking for a one of a kind preschool, pre-k, or kindergarten curriculum, I highly recommend making Leah’s curriculum and e-course one of your first stops!