Emergent Curriculum

What is emergent curriculum?

One method of curriculum design that has emerged to counter the "theme-of-the-week" approach to program delivery is the emergent curriculum.

Emergent Curriculum is a philosophy of educating and a thorough way of planning a curriculum that focuses on being responsive to children's interests to create meaningful learning experiences. Emergent Curriculum can be practiced at any grade level. This philosophy prioritizes active participation, relationship building, flexible and adaptable methods, inquiry, and play-based learning.

At Preschool Canada, our children are truly engaged in play, and exploration will not be quiet; it will be noisy and messy in a purposeful way. Our children are active children. The sounds of materials being used, the occasional shout of joy or surprise and the murmur of adults who are working with children, reflects the learning inquiry cycle, which starts with the following;

  • Observation, listening, writing, and collecting,
  • Describe the work: documentation and dialogue,
  • Raising questions: What do you wonder? Speculate about what are the children working on,
  • Create the next steps that will address the questions and support the children's ideas,
  • We are providing invitations through play. The investigation, props etc. And observing again.

Our Educators observe, discuss and examine documentation, raise questions, and then observe again since the emergent curriculum is formed by relationships—among children.

Eh to Zed educators are looked upon as role models to the children in our community. They work extra hard by assisting children in organizing props, creating an environment that is welcoming to all children, and by asking open-ended questions and observed. While educators are interacting with children, they are not only interacting; however, they also ensure to document the following;

  • What they're doing – quietly writing observations or taking photographs,
  • Educators build on children's ability to work together and problem-solving by scaffolding.

The Role of the Educators

Educators play an important role in their commitment to the implementation of the emergent curriculum in the classroom. Educators address children's developmental needs and keep a play-based curriculum at the forefront.

In its practice, educators take on facilitators' role, using what they see and hear to create an opportunity for children to discover more, dig deeper, and construct further knowledge.

Our Educators understand that the emergent curriculum is child-initiated; observation plays a huge role. By observing the children at play, noticing the detail of what and how they're playing, educators begin to uncover the children's thinking, intentions, questions, ideas, and understandings or misunderstandings. It enables children's learning and educators' thinking to be made visible through varied forms of documentation. This documentation assists educators in making decisions about the following steps.

Preschool Canada understands how important it is to ensure that documentation is being completed for each child in our care. Documentation takes many forms at Preschool Canada and includes the use of written observations (recorded in planning books), progress reports, photographs, portfolios and journals (with preschool and kindergarten-aged children). Parent-teacher conferences are also arranged as a means of celebrating individual achievements throughout the course of a year.

The Program Plan

Program planning is an essential tool that our Eh to Zed Preschool Canada educators use throughout the year. Educators use the children's observations, and based on the children's interests, they create a program plan.

Our Educators follow the emergent curriculum, which follows the children's interests and expand on the children's interests and developmental skills through invitations or a provocation further to explore the children's interest in a topic. Educators provision the environment with additional materials that support the children's play.

Eh to Zed Preschool Canada also incorporates the Reggio Emelia approach, which describes the actions and materials educators use to empower children to move forward with their interest in topics throughout indoor and outdoor program planning.

What tools are needed to successfully engage in an emergent curriculum?


An active educator must find ways to tune into the interests and developmental skills of the children. Listening to children encourages them to find their voice and helps direct learning that engages children through play.

Learning Environment

Our environments are set up with learning centers that focus on different discoveries and developmental skills, which provide children with materials that are accessible. And it is transformed or re-arranged when reflecting on behaviours, developmental needs, and inquiries.


In alignment with provincial standards for early education, Preschool Canada prioritizes existing documentation. Educators are encouraged to observe, record, plan, document, reflect and scaffold. The educator can share documentation through various forms of media during experiences that occur.

The Importance of Reflection

Children thrive in environments that support the emergent curriculum. Educators are encouraged to share what they have heard and seen within their team. Sharing and reflecting within your "educating team" allows educators to support children further using an emergent teaching philosophy. In an emergent program, children are encouraged to reflect on their own work and, when possible, share their work with their families, peers and community.

Food for Thought: Why not revamp the traditional "Show and Share" experience with a "Show and Share" what you have created opportunity. Educators can take photos of what children have created using a classroom tablet, and children can use their expressive language or body language to explain what was created.

Reflection Questions that our Educators use:

  • How does learning happen?
  • Learning happens in environments that support the whole child
  • How can we scaffold learning, bring them to their next zoneof proximal learning?
  • How can we help children deepen their thinking?
  • How can we use our ENVIRONMENT as the third teacher?
  • Which ideas do we respond to?

These are all important questions. We, as educators, need to ask ourselves these wonderful questions. It is paramount that we,ourselves, investigate new pedagogy methods and implement them when possible.

Professional development facilitates new ideas and helps us further understand children's development and the importance of connecting our observations to the curriculum (ELECT/How does learning happen? /Emergent Philosophy).

The Benefits of Emergent Curriculum

The emergent-inspired curriculum is currently embedded in each infant, toddler, preschool and before and after programs offered at Eh to Zed Preschool Canada Early Learning Academy. As such, numerous advantages to this approach have been noted for children of all ages. Specifically, the emergent curriculum has been especially useful in ensuring that:

Eh to Zed Children's benefit by:

  • Receiving recognition of their own learning;
  • Participating in opportunities in making choices about and begin to increase responsibility for the learning.
  • Co-constructing purposeful curriculum planning with their educator to build on their interests, questions, queries, and wonder about the world;
  • Participating in exciting, challenging and motivating learning experiences and developing opportunities for sustained and focused interest;
  • Engaging in enhanced opportunities for the development of their self-expression, oral language and creative abilities.

Eh to Zed Parents benefit through:

  • Opportunities for authentic participation by parents, families and other partners and community members, which uses their diverse understandings, capabilities and knowledge;
  • Receiving effective communication about children's learning and having opportunities for family and community to share interests and learn from home.
  • It allows families to develop discussions and experiences at home that engage children in similar interests as shown at campuses

Eh to Zed Educators' benefits include opportunities to:

  • Develop authentic observation practices that are linked to understanding children's knowledge, development, capabilities and dispositions.
  • Integrate learning across the areas of learning and development through play, real-life engagements, routines and transitions.
  • Build continuity by connecting children's prior knowledge to new learning, leading to deeper understandings about topics of interest.
  • Challenge thinking and support children to engage in alternative ways of explaining and representing their ideas.

Eh to Zed Preschool Canada Early Learning Academy also offers two program models for kindergarten-aged children. In each of these models, the practice of emergent curriculum has served to:

  • Bridge the gap that currently exists between the Ministry of Education's revised Kindergarten expectations and current understandings of child development.
  • Ensure the maintenance of play-based experiences across all curriculum areas.
  • Allow for greater variance in individual ability (therefore supporting children with special needs).
  • Provide opportunities for in-depth exploration delivered in the form of classroom 'projects' and.
  • Inspire ongoing community outings/field trips

Our emergent curriculum provides a strong foundation for children to establish the skills that they will need in the future. Our staff approach provides a meaningful, child-centred program where children are valued and respected within a nurturing and inspiring learning community.

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