From Inception to State Approval: The ELA Curriculum Journey
By Jessica Allison, Director of Education & Training
At Early Learning Academies, we strive for quality in our programs in all areas and this includes our curriculum. Over the past few years, the ELA Curriculum and Training Team worked to create the ELA Curriculum and wanted to share the process with other early childcare educators thinking about embarking on a similar journey.
Creating A New Curriculum
We wanted our new curriculum to be a comprehensive learning strategy that takes the best of Emergent Curriculum, Montessori, and other methodologies to produce a rich, authentic learning experience for each child. Our curriculum is designed to help students find what interested them and build around that organic starting point.
While creating our curriculum, we developed lessons and learning material that put the child at the center while still working on appropriate milestones and challenging the child to be creative, innovative, and to think independently.
The Next Step: State Approval
Once we developed the curriculum, the next step was to start the process of obtaining approval through each state’s quality assurance program. Since our network of centers includes two in New Jersey, we started in the Garden State.
When our curriculum was approved in New Jersey, it felt validating—not only did we see the curriculum as developmentally appropriate and beneficial to children but so did that state’s quality program. This stamp of approval meant that the program aligned with state standards, met the needs of the children in each age group, provided professional development around the execution of the curriculum, assessments, and many other pieces. Since states require childcare centers and preschools that accept tuition subsidies to use approved curricula, receiving state approval also meant that our centers could use our newly developed curriculum and still remain an option for families who use state subsidies for tuition.
Continuing the Process, One State at a Time
By working with each state’s quality programs to get the ELA curriculum approved, we have been able to consider how to make the curriculum stronger and help directors and teachers be more successful with implementing each element of the program. With each state’s quality program giving feedback on the curriculum, it has strengthened the curriculum. This has led us to develop more materials for each age group and consider additional components that the curriculum did not initially have.