“Fly by the Seat of your Pants” Curriculum: How FUMP teachers incorporate children’s interests into the classroom.
While chatting with a parent recently, we were talking about the FUMP classrooms and curriculum. She mentioned that parents sometimes it felt like teachers were ‘flying by the seat of their pants” when creating activities for the children. Indeed they do! Read on for more information.
FUMP teachers spend a great deal of time creating curriculum and selecting activities to support the children’s current stage of development. The most important goal of curriculum is to provide activities for children to practice a variety of skills. Along with that, teachers often use “themes” as a framework for activity selection. Teachers want to explore and expound on children’s knowledge of the world around them, and themes are a convenient way to incorporate concepts with developmental skill building. So a teacher may plan a week of curriculum based on the theme of flowers, as so many wildflowers are in bloom just now.
However, a child comes into the classroom with an experience on their mind: let’s say they found a bird’s nest at home and were telling the teachers about it. The teacher may jump in and gather a few books on the topic, or place art materials in the art center, or other supportive materials for the child’s topic. Other times, children have been using materials in the learning centers in a new and creative way, outside of the teacher’s pre-planned intention. Then the teachers may provide additional resources for the child, based on her notions or the children’s requests.
This is called Emergent Curriculum: when an educator incorporates curriculum based on the children’s interests. It is similar to the “teachable moment”, as it is taking the opportunity to expound on a spark of interest. Using Emergent Curriculum in the classroom provides a more authentic experience for the child, which is a primary focus at FUMP. Rather than following a prescribed curriculum, written by some faraway textbook company, our teachers seek out the interests of the children for the basis of classroom experiences. Too many preschools are adopting pre-packaged activity plans and executing them, irrelevant to the individual children in the program. We retain teachers who are knowledgeable about lesson planning and activities, not just setting out materials indiscriminately. Learning about a topic that is timely and pertinent to the child makes for a more meaningful experience, which is where the magic happens.
So when you see a FUMP teacher set aside their lesson plan activity to incorporate your child’s ideas, it is a sign that she values your child’s input into their classroom experience. Further, she is grounded in knowledge of child development milestones to construct the activity that is age-appropriate for your child. It is the signal that you have an experienced teacher who can meet the developmental needs of your child, while drawing in their natural wonder and curiosity of the world around them.