Four principles that are integral to Project Construct guide the Early Childhood Framework for Curriculum and Assessment. Following is a description of those principles, along with a list of some teaching practices that support them:
Principle 1. Children have an intrinsic desire to make sense of their world.
They will learn what they genuinely need and want to know. When children have opportunities to plan and select their own activities, they not only acquire knowledge and skills in the process, but also the inclination to use them. Along with individual interests and needs, children also have personal styles of learning. Like adults, they learn in different ways and at different rates. By being flexible in expectations about when and how children will develop and by encouraging children to identify and solve problems that interest them, adults can give young children a good start on a course of lifelong learning.
Principle 2. Children actively construct knowledge and values by interacting with the physical and social worlds.
Because their thoughts are still closely tied to action, young children require a learning environment within which they can interact physically, intellectually, and socially. They need to act on objects and observe reactions, to make predictions, and to attempt to produce desired effects through their own actions. They also need to interact with their peers and exchange and compare ideas.
Principle 3. In their universal effort to understand the world, children’s thinking will contain predictable errors.
These errors are necessary to the learning process. Children who ask questions and who risk making incorrect predictions are engaged in active thinking. Often, the errors also reflect advances in reasoning. When adults correct or dismiss these errors, they not only discourage children from thinking for themselves, they also neglect signs of advanced reasoning. Given sufficient time and appropriate guidance to recognize and correct their own errors, children both construct new knowledge and gain confidence in their own ability to figure things out. Teachers who are knowledgeable about child development use children’s errors in thinking as useful guideposts for planning future instruction.
Principle 4. Children’s development is an interactive and interrelated process and spans the Sociomoral,Cognitive, Representational, and Physical Development domains.
As children explore and expand on their interests and construct understanding in a particular domain, that understanding influences their development in other domains as well. While all developmental domains thus influence each other, it is within the Sociomoral domain (the area of children’s personal and social development) that children best further their cognition and language.