A curriculum framework, however, represents a structure for classifying and organizing the many elements and processes involved in creating learning opportunities for young children. It serves as an underlying foundation from which all practices related to children’s learning and development are identified, implemented and evaluated.
A curriculum, as many of us understand it, is a collection of activities that rescribes what to teach. A curriculum framework, however, represents a structure for classifying and organizing the many elements and processes involved in creating learning opportunities for young children. It serves as an underlying foundation from which all practices related to children’s learning and development are identified, implemented and evaluated (Grisham-Brown, Hemmeter, & Pretti-Frontczak, 2005).
The 2004 amendments to IDEA require that all children, regardless of ability, have access to the general curriculum, and have the opportunity to participate and make progress in the general curriculum. To benefit all children, including those with disabilities, it is important to implement a high quality curriculum framework, where ongoing assessment is directly linked to instruction. Just as buildings and sidewalks are now designed from the beginning to be handicap accessible, curriculum must also have accessibility built into its foundation. It is much easier to design a universal curriculum that meets the needs of all learners than add adaptations for children with disabili- ties after the fact (Division of Early Childhood, 2007). Ensuring activities, support, and materials in a curriculum are accessible to children with disabilities will have positive outcomes for all children.
A comprehensive curriculum framework encompasses four elements: assessment; scope and sequence; activities and intervention strategies; and progress monitoring. Regardless of whether or not your early childhood program has adopted a specific curriculum, these four elements should be represented. Take a moment to think through each of them and see what elements could be better addressed if you simply tweaked one or more of your current practices.
• Do you use a curriculum-based assessment to identify children’s strengths and weakness?
Scope and Sequence:
• Do you use assessment summaries to determine children’s needs?
Group them into three categories: common needs, needs to target with small groups, and individual needs.
• Do you incorporate Virginia’s Foundation Blocks for Early Learning into your daily instruction?
• When developing an IEP, do you target the prerequisite skills the child needs to access the general edu- cation curriculum?
Activities and Intervention Strategies:
• Are children encouraged to practice new skills across a range of people, settings and conditions?
• Do you vary the frequency and intensity of the instruction based on the child’s needs?
An adequate number of learning opportunities must be available for children to acquire and generalize new skills.
• Are learning opportunities relevant and meaningful to children?
Embedding instruction into daily activities and routines ensures they are relevant.
• Do you take data across the three categories of needs (common, targeted, individualized) in your class- room?
Common: collected quarterly; Targeted: collected monthly or weekly; Individualized (prioritized IEP
goals): collected daily
• Do you use data collected on student progress to revise activities and instruction?
• Do you want to learn more about a Curriculum Framework?
For your listening pleasure, these podcasts cover the four elements (broken link).
• See a universally designed curriculum unit in action!
Request our new thematic unit: Growing Things! (available soon)
Division of Early Childhood. (2007). Promoting positive outcomes for children with disabilities: Recommendations for curriculum, assessment, and program evaluation. Missoula, MT: Author. Retrieved from: (broken link)(broken link)
Grisham-Brown, J., Hemmeter, M.L., & Pretti-Frontczak, K. (2005). Blended practices for teaching young children in inclusive settings. Baltimore: Brookes Publishing Co.