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Application: Child-Centered Curriculum: Program Perspective

The ability to create and maintain effective early childhood education programs that support and engage every child requires knowledge of individual children;knowledge of quality environmental design and strategies; and the ability to ensure that children relate to, engage in, and benefit from learning and play opportunities fueled by their passion and imagination. Creating such child-centered environments and curriculum in which play and discovery maintain an integral role in fostering healthy development and learning requires understanding the components of each of these practices as well as their effective application. In this Application Assignment, you will apply what you have been learning to an observation, interview, and reflection in an authentic early childhood education setting.


  • Print out and review the Child-Centered Classroom Assessment and Interview Form.
  • Add two factors that you believe will help you better assess the program and practices.
  • Review the interview portion of the assignment, making sure you fully understand each question prior to making your observation/interview appointment.
  • Make sure that you have all materials that you need to conduct the observation and interview prior to arriving at the scheduled observation/interview time. Keep in mind when scheduling your observation that in order to observe interactions with families, it is important to schedule your observation during a period of time when families will be present.
  • Arrive on time.


  • Choose a place to observe where you can see and hear but are unobtrusive.
  • Conduct the interview in an area that is convenient for the professional, being respectful of his or her time schedule.
  • Keep the following observation guidelines in mind:
    • Try to not make assumptions; objectivity is essential.
    • Record what you observe.
    • Note any questions you would like to ask in the interview.
    • Remember that you are observing one moment in time and so are not privy to specific circumstances and/or situations that may be affecting individual children or staff.
    • Try to keep to the time span that you agreed upon for the observation and be sure to thank the teacher(s) in the room and the person you interview.

Reflect on your observation and interview. Review your notes and consider the knowledge and insights you gained from this experience. Include the following:

  • Summarize your observation and interview experience.
  • Describe the ways in which what you learned from your observation and interview reflected and/or contradicted what you have learned about effective programs and practice with regard to child-centered curriculum and play/discovery learning.
  • Based on your assessment of the program’s effectiveness, what practices do you feel should be continued? What additional suggestions would you make? What is your rationale for these suggestions?

For this assignment, submit:

  • Your completed Child-Centered Classroom Assessment and Interview Form
  • Your Reflection, citing specific examples from your observation and interview

Child-Centered Classroom Assessment and Interview Form

Name and Type of Program:

Ages of Children Served:

Before you begin, thank the professional and provide a brief overview of your assignment.

Part 1:Observation

For each of the following factors, indicate supporting evidence in the right-hand column. If absent, please indicate. Add the two factors you have chosen at the bottom of the chart.

Note: If you do not see any of the factors below, make a note to ask the teacher in your interview about whether they are a part of the program.



Learning experiences encourage creative self-expression

Children have choices with regard to activities in which they engage

Learning materials are relevant to children’s life experiences (open-ended but purposeful)

Time is provided for children to initiate and take part in activities

Teaching and learning experiences are integrated rather than blocks of time separated subject by subject/content area by content area (literacy, math, social studies, science as separate entities)

Open-ended opportunities for creative exploration are provided

Learning centers are well organized and filled with objects based on children’s interests

Learning centers provide a broad range of activities to accommodate varying interests and levels of development

Multi-level activities to accommodate children’s varying abilities are provided

Opportunities to create and experiment abound

Schedules and child-created lists promote self-regulation

Provided materialscomplement and extend classroom activities

There are opportunities to explore and document nature

Children are engaged in both free and directed play and/or exploration

[The additional factor that you have chosen to observe]

[The additional factor that you have chosen to observe]

Part 2: Questions for the Professional

Professional’s Role in Program:

Interview Questions:

  1. What does the term child-centered mean to you?
  1. What strategies do you use to get to know children’s interests and support children’s engagement and learning in your environment?
  1. What roles do discovery, exploration, and building on children’s interests have in your curriculum?
  1. What do you see as the role of play and exploration in early childhood classrooms?
  1. What do you see as potential challenges, if any, associated with implementing curriculum based on children’s individual interests?

Is there anything else you would like to share with regard to the ways in which you effectively foster healthy development and learning that meet the strengths and needs of every child in your setting?

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