Your child can learn through educational activities at preschool.

Types of Curriculum Childcare Centers Use

by Erica Loop

Whether your little learner goes to preschool, day care or an early education program, childcare centers all have some type of curriculum that guides activities, lessons and class content. Think of the curriculum as a skeleton that holds up the body of your child's education. Although almost every childcare center has a curriculum, they vary depending on the school's philosophies, mission, educational beliefs and administration.

Creative Curriculum

If your child's teacher tells you that her school uses the Creative Curriculum, that doesn't mean that the staff is getting imaginative with its activities. The Creative Curriculum is a research-based method created by the educational company Teaching Strategies. This system includes a curriculum for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, as well as one for family child care centers. Each curriculum includes objectives that are age-based for the specific group. The Creative Curriculum for Preschool includes 38 objectives for child development that align with the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework.


The HighScope curriculum stems from the participatory approach of learning studied in the Perry Preschool Study. This study is a long-term research effort that originally looked at high-risk 3- and 4-year-olds living n poverty. One group of children was placed in a preschool program based on HighScope's curriculum; the other didn't attend preschool. Decades later, the study participants -- at age 40 -- who went to the HighScope program had a lower crime rate, higher paying jobs and were more likely to have at least a high school degree than those who didn't go to the preschool. Modern day preschools and child care centers use the HighScope curriculum to foster skills in young children such as cooperation, decision-making, independence, creativity and problem solving.

Little Treasures

Preschool-focused childcare centers may use Macmillan/McGraw-Hill's Little Treasures curriculum. This unit-based program features themed resources for activities and lessons that include books to read, extensions for books, objectives, materials lists and lesson modifications for children in different developmental stages. Teachers can also download printables that correspond with specific lessons for kids to color and complete. Each unit has activities that go along with different content areas such as oral language, math, science and social and emotional development.

Head Start

With more than 30 million preschool graduates, Head Start has been a staple of the early childhood education field for more than five decades. Although various Head Start programs may use slightly different types of curriculum programs, the over-riding focus is on research-based child development principles. The Head Start curriculum must follow the organization's performance standards, creating a framework to guide content and lessons. The curriculum must include, according to the program's standards, achievable goals for learning and development, experiences that lead to achieving goals, roles for the staff as well as the parents, and materials such as supplies and equipment.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

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