Our curriculum


Curriculum is the heart of any learning program. Curriculum is comprised of all the care and learning that happens in our program. It includes all the experiences, activities, and interactions that foster children’s learning and development. The nurturing relationships between teachers and children, the learning environment, daily schedule, children’s skills assessments, and our partnership with families are part of curriculum too.

Our curriculum’s mission is to help children develop the critical skills, knowledge, habits, attitudes, and character traits they need to thrive in school and life.

The goals of our curriculum are to support children in:

how children learn

We’ve designed our curriculum to incorporate the core elements of early childhood education that help young children learn best.


We believe children learn best through play and that childhood should not be rushed. Children need time and space to develop in their unique way at their own pace. Because play enhances all areas of development in young children, we base our curriculum on play-centered learning.

Playful learning engages and motivates children in ways that enhance development and life-long learning. Studies of learning through play show that more than direct-instruction methods, play teaches children to be more imaginative and better problem-solvers. Without adequate opportunities for play, children burn out from academic pressure.

Making learning fun is our prime objective. In our classrooms, we encourage all types of play (for example, exploratory, sociodramatic, sensory, construction, imaginative, physical), and, by asking questions or offering suggestions, teachers should take advantage of teachable moments during play. Educators should give children opportunities for extended, self-directed, uninterrupted play, both indoors and outside, and guide and support each child’s learning.


Children need balance. Children learn in different ways, so learning activities throughout our program should be a balance of structure and flexibility; individual, small-group, and large-group experiences; child-initiated and teacher-led; quiet and active periods; and multi-sensory approaches. Each program should encourage children to build upon learned skills and previous experiences, with opportunities to reflect, revisit, and connect.

Activities should be intentional and use the learning centers. Each classroom must implement curriculum in an age-appropriate manner using these standard elements:

  •  sensory-based activities
  •  language development
  • large and small motor skill development
  • creative movement
  • music and singing
  • art activities
  • games
  • dramatic play
  • cooking
  • nature
  • pre-math activities
  • pre-reading activities
  • story and circle time
  • science activities


Teachers should ensure that daily activities and teaching goals are engaging, flexible, and accessible for all children. When considering learning activities, teachers should:


Teaching children to trust is the root of every good relationship. Teacher-child relationships influence young children’s social and emotional development. Teacher interaction helps children build positive and emotionally secure relationships with adults.

The quality of teacher-child relationships predicts children’s competence, persistence, enthusiasm for learning, and academic success. Educators should respect children, listen to them, get down to their level, and calmly implement clear and consistent limits. Offer lots of love, support, hugs, and individual attention.

Specifically, educators should:



Children need a safe and stimulating learning environment with physical space, learning centers, equipment, materials, and outdoor learning to stimulate children’s bodies, minds, and imaginations. Classrooms should:

Each classroom’s schedule and routines reinforce learning with enough structure to provide children security and predictability and the flexibility to meet children’s needs. [See LEARNING ENVIRONMENT]


Active learning takes advantage of children’s natural motivations, abilities, and interests, so hands-on exploration is key to our curriculum. Young children are natural, enthusiastic learners. They discover the world through their senses, exploring materials, moving throughout the classroom, and interacting with one another. They like to ask questions, investigate, explore, examine, and experiment.

Children understand concepts and develop skills through hands-on experiences. Projects allow them to study a topic in depth and collaborate with their peers. Working on projects with other children involves teamwork, problem solving, and critical thinking, all goals of 21st-century learning.


Parent involvement enhances children’s achievement, attitudes, and behavior, and helps them feel more comfortable in new settings. We respect and support each family’s background, culture, values, and traditions, and encourage feedback, input, and open communication. We welcome parents as experts on their children, and as partners in setting goals to best serve their child’s needs, strengths, and interests. We offer an open-door policy, allowing parents to visit and participate in our programs any time.

Parents are encouraged to lend their knowledge and talents to the classroom. Involvement can range from contributions that family members can make from home to volunteering in the classroom. Parents can get involved in their child’s education by:

Sharing a talent or job

Family members can share their knowledge and experience with the children. Examples include playing an instrument, teaching children about carpentry, or demonstrating a skill.

Sharing their culture

Families who share aspects of their cultural heritage enrich the program greatly. They could cook a traditional dish with the children, teach them dances, read a traditional story, or tell stories of their childhood.

Making things for the program

Parents can do projects at home that benefit the children. They can collect materials for the art area (like fabric scraps, ribbons, yarn, paper towel cardboard), objects for sorting and classifying (like buttons, shells, keys, or bottle caps), or props for dramatic play. Willing parents can make things for the classroom such as doll clothes, curtains, or record stories for the library area.

what children learn


ME + YOU: learning about myself and those around me
BRAIN POWER: learning how to think about the world around me
WORD SMART: learning how to communicate in the world around me
HEALTHY ME: developing a healthy body and learning to take care of myself
IMAGINE THAT: learning to express myself creatively


Connecting My World™ incorporates developmentally appropriate goals and learning objectives of nationally recognized curricula, as well as our own research-based objectives that align with Massachusetts state guidelines and frameworks.

Learning objectives are broken into the 5 areas of learning and outline a clear set of milestones and skills children reach from infants to kindergarten. This allows teachers to accurately assess children’s abilities to report progress to parents and to develop experiences and activities to meet each child’s needs.

Learning objectives are divided into several sub-objectives for infants through pre-kindergarten [see Learning Objectives with Examples for a full description].

ME + YOU: learning about myself and those around me

Teach prosocial skills

Prosocial skills help or benefit another individual or the group. The 3 main prosocial behaviors for young children are helping, sharing, and cooperating.. Here are ways to help children learn prosocial behavior, which will help prevent challenging behavior:

Help children negotiate conflict

Teachers need to help children develop negotiating skills to handle conflicts. Children use social problem-solving skills to resolve issues in a matter that benefits them and is acceptable to others. Here are 6 suggested steps for teaching conflict resolution:

  1. Identify and define the conflict.
  2. Invite children to participate in solving the problem.
  3. Work together to generate possible solutions.
  4. Examine each idea for how well it might work.
  5. Help children with plans to implement the solution.
  6. Follow up to evaluate how well the solution worked.

Use the classroom

Prepare the classroom environment to best help children learn prosocial skills. Here are some ideas:


Self-regulation is the ability to internally regulate one’s own behavior rather than depending on others to enforce it. Self-control helps children learn, supports their growth and development, and is fundamental to creating social order. Children demonstrate self-control when they

  1. control their impulses, wait, and suspend action,
  2. tolerate frustration,
  3. postpone immediate gratification, and
  4. initiate a plan and carry it out over time.

As educators, our ultimate goal is to teach children to manage their own behavior. Teaching children to self-manage increases the likelihood that appropriate behavior will last. It allows teachers to spend more time teaching and less time trying to control behavior. Here are 4 suggested strategies:

BRAIN POWER: learning how to think about the world around me

We want to teach children 21st century skills. Young children’s natural curiosity of how the world works makes early childhood an optimal time to introduce them to STEM- based learning (science, technology, engineering, and math). Our goal is to harness young children’s innate drive to observe, interact, discover, and explore to set them on a path to develop a love of scientific inquiry and creative problem-solving.

Educators can create a fun and engaging learning environment that helps young children develop their scientific skills and build a strong foundation for future science learning. Early childhood educators do not need a strong background in science to teach these skills effectively. They can use resources such as books, online materials, and professional development opportunities to deepen their understanding of scientific concepts and teaching strategies.


Science encourages investigation, inquiry, hypothesis testing, experimentation, and reflection. Early childhood educators can teach science skills to young children in a variety of ways, such as:


Technology includes understanding the purpose of and use of simple tools like magnifying glasses, and more complex ones like microscopes. Here are some effective strategies for teaching technology skills:


Engineering involves building or creating things while recognizing problems and testing solutions. Here are some fun ideas for teaching technology:


Pre-math deals with numbers, patterns, shapes, organizational skills, and much more.

Fun and engaging ideas for helping young children develop their pre-math skills include:

IMAGINE THAT: learning to express myself creatively


Arts use creative thinking and imagination while exploring a variety of materials and methods. Here are strategies to help young children develop art skills and build a strong foundation for future artistic expression.

It’s important to note that art should be used as a tool for learning and self-expression, not a performance-based activity. Additionally, teachers should provide developmentally appropriate materials and activities to ensure children can safely and successfully engage with art experiences.

Teaching dance and creative movement promotes children’s physical development, creativity, and self-expression. Here are some tips to teach dance and creative movement effectively:

WORD SMART: learning how to communicate in the world around me


Pre-reading refers to the skills and knowledge children acquire before they learn to read and write. Pre-reading components include:


Pre-writing covers skills and activities that prepare children to learn to write.

HEALTHY ME: developing a healthy body and learning to take care of myself

Developing fine and gross motor skills in young children is an important aspect of early childhood education. It promotes physical development, coordination, and overall health. Here are some tips:


Authentic learning occurs when activities or projects offer children an opportunity to apply their knowledge or skills to real-world situations. Children engage and learn more when activities, discussions, and materials are related to their surroundings and to real life examples.

Learning activities and content should be linked with a particular theme or project. Themes are ideal for integrating learning across the curriculum, creating an environment that supports language development, helps children see connections, and enables them to make their own connections. Thematic units support creative thinking, combine the different ways that young children learn, and make learning fun!

Themes provide structure and format for learning, but there is always room to follow children’s emerging interests. Our curriculum gives the teachers the flexibility to extend or shorten the time spent on a theme based on the level of interest.

When you observe an interest emerging, work with the children to find more ways to explore the topic and deepen their understanding. Take children’s interests and combine them with educational goals to plan engaging experiences. Research shows that when children are interested, they learn more from the experience.

Thematic goals are the specific knowledge related to a topic that teachers want children to learn. Teachers and children determine specific topics to investigate. Teachers plan experiences will teach children the procedural, factual and conceptual goals of the topic.

Our curriculum is divided into four broad themes. Each theme lasts approximately 3 months. The themes start with the child at the center, then move to the larger world, involving people and places all around the globe. Specifically, it guides children in an age-appropriate manner through an exploration of:

Myself and My Family
My Friends, My School and My Community
My World
My Place in The World

With each theme, there are areas of focus. An area of focus is more specific than a theme, but still broad enough to allow for several topics to be explored within it. Each topic is designed for deep exploration through experiential activities and projects.

ready for learning, ready for life

We know success in school starts long before a child sets foot in a kindergarten classroom. Supportive teachers make sure each child grows at their own pace and is ready to flourish in the next phase of their educational journey, whether that’s achieving the next milestone, moving up to the next classroom, or going to kindergarten.

What is readiness?

Readiness encompasses skills in every domain: physical, cognitive, social, and emotional. Being ready isn’t just mastering skills or meeting milestones; it’s being prepared to take the next step on an educational journey with capability, interest, and enthusiasm.

Ready for life

While school readiness encompasses early literacy and math skills, it also includes essential skills such as how to:


We believe that preparing children for school is not just about the curriculum. It’s about creating a safe environment with heart, with teachers that nurture, cherish, and motivate. It’s not just about reaching benchmarks but achieving the potential within and approaching the future with confidence and a love of learning.


First Circle is very proud of our unique character education program, MyCharacter. Character determines how we respond to situations and circumstances of life. How a person thinks, acts, and feels reveals their character. Character shows in the habits and values a person demonstrates in their interactions with others, and how they treat themselves. Early childhood experts say children begin to develop character traits in infancy based on their personal experiences, relationships, and temperament.

Studies show character skills are as important as academic skills in determining success in life. When children learn habits of planning and goal setting, self-regulation, decision-making, organizing their personal time, and managing responsibilities effectively, they gain habits that will help them succeed in school and in life.

MyCharacter™ introduces an area of character every 3 months, with a specific trait each month. Parents receive our flier providing information about each character trait so they can support children in their character education at home.

Books, games, poems, and songs that are introduced each month highlight the trait and teach prosocial behaviors and engage children in making choices to reinforce learning objectives. The at-home fliers give parents specific activities they can do with their child to model and practice the character skills being taught in the classroom.

With each character trait, provide children multiple activities to practice solving problems, to reinforce learning, and to see how their behavior, actions, and words affect others. The ability to make good choices, self-manage, and be helpful, honest, and compassionate are skills that are built over time, with examples, reinforcement, modeling, and practice.

curriculum planning