How to Plan Early Learning Curriculum to Meet Development Milestones
In early learning environments, children are developing rapidly. It’s important as program leaders to understand the typical developmental milestones children face, and create a curriculum that helps kids achieve them.
We want to help you build a learning environment that complements the milestones children in your program are working towards. This guide will teach you more about these milestones and how to weave this knowledge into your teaching.
Understand Developmental Milestones
The first step to tailoring a curriculum around developmental milestones is to understand them.
The CDC offers milestone checklists for children ages 2 months to 5 years. While you don’t need to fill these out for every child in your program, it’s a good idea to reference them so you understand what milestones children of different ages should be hitting.
These checklists also offer helpful suggestions for activities and interactions to encourage proper child development.
Incorporate Helpful Lessons and Activities
Once you understand these milestones, it’s important to plan lessons and activities that help children meet them. These will vary by age, however, they should all promote socialization and stimulate the senses.
In order to help children develop and grow, it’s a good idea to use the “mirrors and windows” technique in your classroom. You should provide activities and books that “mirror” the culture and experiences children in your program have at home. “Windows” should be activities or books that give children a window into other cultures and ways of doing things.
Both mirroring and expanding a child’s worldview will help them develop socially and enable them to reach their full potential.
Screen For Developmental Concerns
According to the CDC, one in four children ages 0-5 are at moderate or high risk of developmental delays. As an early learning provider, you have a front-row seat to how children in your care are developing. If you notice a child isn’t meeting the above-mentioned developmental milestones, performing a screening is a great option.
Developmental and behavioral screenings ask questions about a child’s language, motor, cognitive and social skills in order to test for developmental delays. These screenings don’t serve as a diagnosis, instead they simply alert to a possible issue that could be examined more closely by a specialist.
If you notice delays in developmental milestones, work with the family members of the child. Ask if they’re comfortable with you performing a screening. On the flip-side, when a child DOES hit a new developmental milestone, celebrate with their family as well. This will keep families in the loop about these important milestones so they’re aware of how their children are progressing.
Use Milestones in Your Curriculum
Now that you understand more about developmental milestones, you can incorporate this knowledge into your curriculum and watch out for signs that children might need early intervention or additional support.
Looking for more lesson plan ideas? We offer a wealth of resources for planning activities for children of all ages.
You can also connect with a Brighter Futures Indiana representative by calling us at 1-800-299-1627.