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Beyond Emergent Curriculum Lies Inquiry-Based Learning

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We all remember the best parts of school: the teachers who opened our minds to new ideas, the subjects that stirred our enthusiasm, the questions that sparked our curiosity, the exercises we excelled at because they happened to fit our learning style.  

When parents think about fostering a lifelong love of learning in their kids, it’s often those memories that come to mind. And there’s no better place to begin expanding children’s horizons than preschool. 

An emergent curriculum, which breaks free of traditional ways of teaching and learning, encourages children to follow their own curiosity as teachers guide. This interest- and play-based approach puts each child’s strengths and passions at the fore so kids remain engaged, absorb new information, and hit their key developmental milestones.  

Some of the Benefits of Inquiry-Based Learning Include:

  • Children’s interests serve as the basis for programs and activities
  • Individual strengths are encouraged and cultivated
  • Unique learning needs are supported
  • Curriculum content is an extension of home and family life
  • Parents remain involved 
  • Diversity is celebrated in its fullest form

What is Emergent Curriculum?

The emergent curriculum philosophy originated in the 20th century as a celebration of individuality — and a reaction against the rigid institutional preschool frameworks that were popular at the time. Founded by Loris Malaguzzi in post-WWII Italy, The Reggio Emilia Approach was one of the earliest versions of an emergent curriculum; Malaguzzi advocated for a system that encouraged children to engage with the world in ways that felt natural to them. 

An emergent curriculum celebrates all the interests children display in an open learning environment. The teacher, acting as a facilitator, observes what’s happening in the classroom and plans activities around them, working to support children’s interests and incorporate key learning skills and developmental milestones along the way. 

An emergent curriculum features the following principles:

  • Children are actively involved in the direction of their learning
  • Projects and activities make use of all five senses and focus on movement, observation, and tactile exploration
  • Children are actively engaged with their peers and learning environment 
  • Children are given endless opportunities to express themselves

These principles are at the heart of Vivvi’s philosophy. And our inquiry-based learning model, developed by leading educators, puts age-appropriate milestones front and center. 

Exploring Child-Centered Inquiry-Based Learning

Vivvi’s passionate teachers observe what each child is interested in and use those findings to organize projects and activities that cultivate metacognitive, academic, and physical skills. 

We foster each child’s natural development and curiosity, encourage them to dive deeper into their individual interests, and solve problems through guided, play-based learning. Our curriculum webs, which are based on children’s questions, are built monthly. 

Our student-led approach is supported by a framework of developmental milestones:

  • Social and Emotional
  • Self-Care
  • Literacy
  • Expressive Language
  • Receptive Language
  • Mathematical Learning
  • Scientific Inquiry
  • Fine Motor
  • Gross Motor

By creating month-long curriculum themes that touch these domains, our programs set up children with a holistic understanding of the world and fully prepare them to thrive in kindergarten. 

Here’s an example of a “baby-themed” preschool curriculum from one of Vivvi’s campuses. When teachers noticed that the preschoolers were interested in the infants across the hall from them, they developed an entire month of activities based on learning about babies. From early math skills by mapping different heights of themselves and baby dolls, to working on their fine motor skills by dressing babies, the children explored the theme and developed their confidence by following their interests and mastering new skills along the way.

Vivvi learning inquiry model preschool web babies theme

In this curriculum web below for an infant class that focused on “Building with Boxes,” students in the infant classroom explored new senses with an exploration of lightboxes, and worked on their early math skills by recognizing new shapes and sizes while comparing different sized boxes side by side.

Vivvi learning inquiry model Infant Web Building With Boxes

In the toddler curriculum web below, students explored their interests in sound and music by clapping rhythmic patterns to work on early math skills, matching animals to their sounds in the science center, and celebrating the month with a marching band parade. 

Vivvi learning inquiry model Toddler Web Sound and Music

Examples of Inquiry-Based Learning at Vivvi

Here are some examples of the inquiry-based learning projects our educators run for students both at our learning campuses and our in-home programs.

Vivvi learning inquiry model Lesson Plan Object Sculpture Infant
Vivvi learning inquiry model Lesson Plan Toddler and Preschool Mixing up Oobleck!
Vivvi learning inquiry model Lesson Plan Spin Art Toddler and Preschool

Get in Touch With Us to Learn More About Inquiry-Based Learning For Your Child

At Vivvi, we provide exceptional early childhood education that meets parents and children where they are, whether it’s in our cheerful campuses that bring our curriculum to life, or right in your own home.

Connect with us to learn more about our inquiry-based learning programs and to schedule a tour.

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