What is Emergent Curriculum? 


Emergent curriculum is a way to effectively respond to children’s needs. To accomplish this, educators must first take the time to know each child. This way, educators can design a tailored learning program. 

How does the emergent curriculum approach work? 

Because this approach is responsive, tailored and flexible, the curriculum might lack the structure we often see in other approaches. It’s the natural consequence of making the learning program tailored for each child. 

To design that tailored program, educators often do the following: 

  • Getting to know each child 
  • Listening to the children’s ideas 
  • Observing their behaviours in unstructured settings 
  • Looking out for key learning opportunities
  • Building on each child’s current interests 

It’s a child-centric approach that allows children to: 

  • Follow up on their current interests 
  • Take part in challenging learning experiences related to their interests
  • Keep their focus and enthusiasm on the learning program (because it’s specifically designed for them) 
  • Accelerate or maintain their developmental pace (result of their sustained focus and enthusiasm on the learning program) 

In the emergent curriculum, children become continuously engaged in learning. They can follow up on their interests and experience more fun while at the early learning centre. It’s similar to unstructured playtime where children have some freedom on which activities to pursue. 

How educators implement an emergent curriculum 

It starts with getting to know the children including their current skills, needs and interests. Based on those, teachers plan for projects and activities for a specific group of children. Each group might be doing totally different activities because of this tailored approach. 

For example: 

  • Classroom A focuses on working with blocks and boxes 
  • Classroom B is more about writing and storytelling 
  • Classroom C focuses on colours and arts 

Although it’s crucial for children to experience a variety of activities, the learning program for each group will become tailored and more responsive. We can think of it as a way to encourage children to pursue their interests while providing the necessary support through better planning. It’s also a great way to make the learning programs more responsive to children’s rapidly evolving needs.