Types of Curriculum in Daycares

When choosing a learning environment for your child, you may hear about several types of curriculum or philosophies. Each licensed daycare program is required to submit a program plan that outlines how the program will meet the children’s needs. This includes how to meet the physical, social, intellectual, creative and emotional needs of the children. This is done through the use of the learning philosophy or curriculum of the centre. This is a brief overview as each program will have it’s own unique way of implementing curriculum.

Learning-Through-Play- Children participate in guiding their own learning by engaging with materials, peers and adults through play. Children choose activities based on their interests and the materials presented. Educators assist the children by supporting social and emotional needs. Learning happens through the use of open-ended questions and teachable moments noticed by the Educators.

Emergent– Before the end of the Alberta Early Childhood Accreditation program, this was the required curriculum in all programs. All accredited programs followed an emergent curriculum at that time. Emergent is a philosophy based on observations of the children’s interests, needs and abilities. Planning is then done to build on this information by connecting what children need to learn with their preferred activities.

Flight- This is a curriculum designed for Alberta Early Learning. It is based on 5 dispositions to learn. This is a play-based curriculum that is also considered “emergent” and was designed to support both learning through play and emergent philosophies.

Reggio- This is a philosophy based out of a program in Italy. It is also a child-led philosophy that includes many open-ended materials and close observation of the children.

Nature-based- This term is for programs that incorporate natural materials into their program. (I believe all programs should be doing this!) This is different from “Nature Preschool” or “Nature Kindergarten,” where most of their day is spent outside. Outdoor playtime can vary greatly in any of these programs, and it is best to ask how much actual time is spent outdoors and if there are any limitations (i.e. what types of weather would limit outdoor play). New Early Learning and Child Care Licensing Regulations updated on Feb 1, 2021, do not require outdoor play areas connected to centres, and alternates may be provided.

Montessori- This philosophy is centred on the play materials and the children. Teachers often take a more hands-off approach, and the children will learn from a mixed age group of peers. There is an emphasis on independence.

Mixed- Some programs will have rooms dedicated to different styles of learning. Some programs may not specifically follow or know the different types of curriculums. Some programs integrate multiple philosophies to support learning.

At Educentres, we believe learning is a lifelong process, and as our knowledge develops, so does our curriculum. We start with the foundation of the Learning-Through-Play philosophy and build into it materials, concepts and ideas from all types of curriculums. We use nature-based materials and spend time outdoors daily. Most importantly, we build warm, secure attachments and respectful relationships with the children. This forms the basis for all learning, interactions and play here.

Choosing Child Care Using the Look-Up Tool

Did you know?! Information is available quickly and easily on child care programs in Alberta using the Child Care Look-Up Tool. Licensed child care programs and contracted family day home agencies can be easily searched by name, city or postal code. The look-up tool provides information about the location, ages of children, total number of children allowed at the program and perhaps most importantly, the program’s status and recent inspection results.

 Here is what to look for, and what the key terms mean as you read the tool!

Non-Compliances- This is the main item you will want to look at. This outlines where the program is not meeting licensing standards. The type of non-compliances may range from Child Discipline to Administration Records.

Non-Compliances to look for- (I have selected these as the ones I think are very serious, but you can make your own judgements here-)

Child Discipline – reasonable in the circumstances, deny or threaten to deny any basic necessity, inflict physical punishment, verbal or physical degradation or emotional deprivation

Day Care Program – program in keeping with the needs of children

Minimum staffing and general supervision – children at all times supervised

Ratios and Maximum Group Size – minimum primary staff member to child ratio

Follow Up to Enforcement Action- This means a non-compliance was found, and a follow-up visit scheduled for another inspection. There may be more non-compliances found on this follow-up visit.

Inspection- This is a visit from a licensing officer. This may be announced or unannounced.

Renewal Licence Inspection- This happens every 3 years. The program is fully reviewed on areas from philosophy to floor space and everything in between. This is regulated under the childcare licensing act.

Consultation- This is an opportunity for programs to ask questions of their licensing officer to improve their program

Incident Report- You will see the term Incident Report on many of the programs. It sounds a little scary but certain occurrences must be reported to Licensing. This is so that these incidents can be properly investigated and safety plans put in place. The important part again is to look for non-compliances. 

Complaint Investigation- Anyone can register a complaint with Child Care Licensing, which will then be investigated. This helps to keep all children safe.

Can’t find a program? This is for licensed programs only. Private dayhomes and babysitters that are unlicensed will not be searchable.

Still, have questions? Book an online consultation and I will explain it.

I am a passionate Early Childhood Educator, Parent Coach and Daycare Operater of the Early Learning program, North Calgary Educentre. I beleive parents need to be fully informed to make the best choices for their children and that is why I offer these consultations to new and soon-to-be parents free of charge!