Early Childhood Education Curriculum Ideas

Early Childhood Education Curriculum Ideas

Early childhood education curriculum ideas include the use of a theme to teach children about the world around them. It can also be beneficial to follow the EYLF guidelines for lesson planning so that children aren’t missing out on core objectives.

An emergent curriculum focuses on individual children’s skills, interests, and experiences. This allows teachers to adapt activities based on what they see children do in the classroom.

Social-Emotional Learning

During their early years, kids have the best opportunity to learn what are sometimes called “soft skills,” such as how to recognize and handle emotions, get along with others and create positive relationships. Research has shown that these social-emotional learning (SEL) skills can help students in many ways, including increasing their academic performance and lowering their risk of emotional problems and behavioral issues down the road.

The SEL curriculum you choose must be appropriate for your students’ age and developmental level. It must also consider the broader community and environment where your children live. For example, some studies have found that low-income students are more likely to experience social-emotional challenges than their affluent peers. Incorporating SEL into your early childhood education curriculum can help ensure that all of your children have the same opportunities to thrive.

A good SEL program must include strategies that address children’s needs in a safe and nurturing learning environment. It should also provide educators with training and ongoing support to implement SEL activities effectively.

A few SEL early childhood education curriculum ideas that can help you build these skills include introducing children to a variety of cultures with fun activities like coloring multicultural flags, creating family trees and writing letters to share information about their families’ backgrounds. Also, teach students about “upstanders” with these free tear tags that encourage them to reach out to peers who seem to be struggling.

Physical Activity

Providing opportunities for physical activity is an important part of the early childhood curriculum. Active learning experiences foster children’s movement, gross and fine motor skills and cognitive development. They promote social-emotional well-being by teaching children to express themselves, navigate conflicts and develop empathy for their peers (Brown & Smuka, 2017).

A robust physical education program supports students’ growth in all domains of the early childhood curriculum. However, educators often struggle to incorporate meaningful physical learning opportunities into their classrooms. They may also lack training on the importance of making learning active. This is especially true when it comes to integrating movement into classroom lessons, such as marching while spelling words or moving from velcro strap shoes to laced ones.

To make physical learning more effective, teachers should create inclusive and adaptive movement activities that can be performed by students regardless of mobility limitations (Brown et al., 2022). These types of activities allow kids to choose how they move and can promote autonomy, positioning them as experts in the movements that work best for their bodies.

Another barrier to physical learning in schools is the perception that it is time-consuming and interrupts instructional flow. Teachers can overcome this perception by integrating physical learning into the curriculum in ways that do not interrupt the classroom’s instructional sequence. For example, short physical activity breaks (e.g., 10 min) as placeholder or transition activities in seated lessons do not significantly improve student learning and self-regulation compared to sedentary classroom time (Howie et al., 2020).


Developing an early childhood curriculum requires educators to cultivate a love of learning, promote holistic development and set young children on a path for lifelong success. Through incorporating key components, employing effective strategies and staying informed of current and future trends, educators can develop an educational program that is both engaging and rigorous.

When designing a curriculum, educators consider the children’s interests and experiences as well as the developmental domains that are most important for each group of children. Educators also consider how learning in one domain or subject area impacts and builds upon learning in other areas. Ideally, a curriculum is planned in a coordinated manner across age groups and grade spans to ensure that all children have the opportunity to learn.

Rigid, narrowly defined and skills-focused curricula are not developmentally appropriate for infants, toddlers or preschoolers. However, using a written curriculum can help educators plan engaging, challenging and interactive learning experiences that meet children’s needs and interests.

When implementing a curriculum, educators use various learning materials that encourage creativity, problem-solving and social interaction. These may include soft and colorful books with large pictures for infants and toddlers, building blocks and pretend play materials for preschoolers and educational games and apps for older children. Educators should also be sure to incorporate culturally and linguistically relevant resources and activities into their programs. For example, educators can use a bilingual Spanish-English language arts curriculum to support the children’s home languages and cultures.


Educators use a structured curriculum to provide young children with the tools they need to learn and build skills in all domains. These include science, social studies, mathematics and technology literacy. They also focus on physical activity, literacy and the arts. The curriculum should give children the opportunity to explore the natural world and discover more about themselves.

For example, if the kids are learning about the solar system, they might make a model of the planets and their orbits. They might play games that involve the planets, such as “rocket ship” or “astronaut.” This kind of learning supports students’ math and science skills as they construct models and compare sizes, shapes and colors.

The early childhood education curriculum also should offer a variety of art and music activities, including painting and dancing. Children love to move and they can express themselves creatively with music, dance and art.

A good early learning curriculum includes experiences that reflect the diversity of the children in a classroom, the community and the country. It also should support the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education, which emphasizes play-based learning, hands-on investigation of interesting materials and nurturing environments that encourage active learning.

Teachers need to document students’ progress through the curriculum. This can take the form of written observations (recorded in planning books) or through photos, portfolios and journals for preschool-aged children. Educators should also consider using tools such as Vroom, an app that helps turn everyday moments into brain-building experiences.

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