Although some child care centers provide merely a safe place for children to spend the day while their parents are working, many centers also provide educational opportunities. Childcare center curricula are most often based on some of the popular early childhood education models that are used in preschools, blurring the lines between a traditional childcare center and a preschool. In fact, any childcare center that offers a learning environment for the children who attend can be considered a preschool.
Early Childhood Education Models
While there are many different theories on how to best educate young children, several models have become popular in childcare centers. Each of these provides a curriculum or a basis for the curriculum that the center's director and teachers use in the education of their charges. Some common models encountered today are the Montessori, the Reggio Emilia, High Scope and Waldorf models.
The Montessori curriculum is based on the model developed by Marie Montessori, and focuses on material-driven learning. In the Montessori approach, play is directed toward developing life skills. Children are taught to be self-sufficient. Materials provided in the classroom are expected to dictate the child's activities. This method usually has various learning stations and activities throughout the room for the children to choose from.
The Reggio Emilia curriculum approaches learning from a more creative and child-driven angle. In this curriculum model, activities are chosen based on the child's interests. The teachers follow the child's lead and develop learning tasks around child's interest. Creativity and imaginative play are encouraged and supported.
The High Scope model has a strong focus on skills that the child needs to build. Classifying and sorting are common activities used in this model. The child takes the lead in determining what activity interests him, but the teachers are prepared to move the activity forward. The teacher and child determine the activity together.
Waldorf schools focuses on free, creative play, and discourages the use of television. This model is designed to make the child feel at home and comfortable enough to allow for free play and exploration. The curriculum focuses on developing what are believed to be the three aspects of each child: spirit, body and soul.
A cooperative preschool is a non-profit school that is organized by a group of parents that share the same ideas about what they want in their child's school. These parents hire a qualified teacher to teach their preschoolers and may take turns working alongside the teacher with all of the students. The curriculum is agreed on by all of the parents and can vary by school.
Whether it's Christian, Jewish, or another denomination, religious childcare center curriculum includes an element of faith. These schools generally include basic preschool educational activities using any number of curriculum methods, but, they include religious or faith messages taught as separate lessons or used to portray particular concepts within the other elements of the curriculum.