1. Do I need to be a teacher to use this curriculum? If you are interested in this then you ARE a teacher! You do not need to be a qualified teacher or have any teaching experience to use this curriculum. The curriculum is easy to understand and is based in play (to see an example of a weekly activity plan click here: Primary Colours (+1) Clever Clovers Lesson Plan). There is plenty of advice available on my blog and you can always email me for more information.
2. Do I need to purchase a bunch of specific books, resources and toys in order to use this curriculum? No. Though there are book and toy suggestions, you do not need them specifically. Whatever you have to replace those suggestions will work just fine. In using this curriculum, it will be beneficial to have access to the public library and internet. Many care givers find it beneficial to have access to NetFlix and a toy lending library. Alternatively, you can swap toys with friends and family members who also have children. You can use an online music website like Grooveshark.com to provide the music that is suggested, rather than buying it.
3. What is your return policy? Currently, there are no returns. The reason for this is simple. You will have access to a digital copy of the curriculum. There is nothing to keep you from printing or taking parts of the curriculum and then asking for a refund. I’m sure you can understand. I am considering a hard copy form of the curriculum which can be mailed. In this case, if it was returned un-opened I could issue a refund but right now, this is not an option.
4. Is this curriculum associated with any religion? No. While I feel religion and philosophy play an important role in child development, choosing one to base a curriculum on seems somewhat exclusive to me. This curriculum is useful for anybody regardless of race, class, gender or religion. You can easily integrate your spiritual and social values into the activities suggested.
5. Do you seriously do all these activities every day? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. However, we always do some of them (at least 3-4 of the 7 activities). It is not always possible to do all 7 in a day because we have other activities, appointments or plain old lazy days! An activity plan is written for one week but it is recommended to be used for two weeks. Therefore on the second week, we either repeat activities or catch up on ones that we never got to the week before. Remember at this age some activities last only 15 minutes long! In our home, we always have the activity plan readily available and when it is time to play together we choose an activity an go! We love having the activity plan because we don’t have to think up ideas of what to do.
6. I have read that you shouldn’t have any learning objectives when it comes to teaching your baby or toddler. What do you think about it? That is an approach that I obviously do not agree with. I will say that there should be no pressure applied to a baby or toddler to meet learning objectives. You can certainly offer a baby activities with a specific objective in mind (to help develop a specific aspect of growth) but you should be offering support to help them develop, NOT pressure to get them to develop. The process of taking part in the activities is more important than the outcome. Also, it is very important for babies and toddlers to have plenty of time for free and “objective-less” play. Thus, I believe, to encourage the full potential of baby/child development, a focused curriculum AND free play are important. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!! You are sharing precious moments with your baby!
7. My baby finds a lot of these activities challenging. Should I be worried? In most cases, the answer is no. If your baby had mastered all of these skills then there would be no use for this curriculum and you would have wasted your money! Presenting the tasks in different ways, modelling and using language your baby is already familiar with will help your baby. Also, remember babies at this age learn skills by repetition. They like to do things over and over. This is one of the reasons why I recommend using one activity plan for two weeks (so that there is an opportunity to repeat tasks/activities). If your baby does not meet the developmental milestones suggested by your medical caregiver then discuss your concerns with him/her.
8. This seems like a very good curriculum but it seems like a lot of work. How much time will I have to commit to planning? You can put as little or as much effort into this as you like. However, you are right to think that you will have to do some preparation and planning ahead of time. In my experience as a teacher and parent, taking some time in advance to organize, makes life a lot happier and smoother for everybody in the end! It will be helpful to look through the activity plan in advance in order to collect the materials (library books, art supplies, etc.), decide when to do the tasks, decide how to tweak an activity to suit your baby’s developing skills or your resources and rotate toys. Initially it may take you a bit longer to plan but once you become more familiar with the curriculum it shouldn’t take up much of your time.
9. What exactly is included in the Clever Clovers curriculum? The Clever Clovers curriculum consists of 6 activity plans (one for each theme). Each activity plan has 29 activities which focus on the 7 areas of child development (to see an example of a weekly activity plan click here: Primary Colours (+1) Clever Clovers Lesson Plan). Each activity plan has suggestions for video, book and toy resources. It includes all templates, recipes, website addresses and lyrics to songs that are needed to do the activities. In total, Clever Clovers includes 174 activities. Some activities are repeated like story time, sing-a-longs and puzzles, but the large majority of activities are different from activity plan to activity plan). The entire curriculum document is 47 pages, it includes the curriculum overview,a user guide, activity plans and suggested resources.
10. What kind of results can I expect to see in my baby? As mentioned before, all babies develop differently and the focus of the tasks should be on the process not the outcome. The benefits are many and varied (please see the Specific Skills section of the Curriculum Overview). Thus, the results will vary from one baby to another. However, this curriculum is rooted in language & literacy development and in the very least, should allow you to see an increase in your baby’s confidence, a willingness and desire to communicate (verbally and non-verbally) and an increased ability to listen and follow instructions.
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