Teacher Q&A

We wrote Great First Eight with metropolitan settings in mind and have only piloted the curriculum in metropolitan areas. There are many features of the curriculum that may not work in other settings. For example, we wrote the curriculum with the assumption that when toddlers go on a walk, they will see environmental print (e.g., street signs) that the teachers can point out and discuss. As another example, many of our project-based units involve connecting with businesses and cultural institutions within close proximity of the care setting or school. Using Great First Eight in other settings would require careful adaptation.

One of our foci when writing the Great First Eight Curriculum was children from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds. We are unapologetic about this, as many curricula have been written with little or no attention to children from these backgrounds. We have strived for extensive, positive representation of people from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds in every aspect of the curriculum.

Although no set of curriculum materials can, by themselves, guarantee an education that is tailored to each child’s knowledge, cultural background, strengths, and needs, Great First Eight is intentionally designed to better support teachers through both curriculum and professional development materials to provide such an education for each child in their classroom.

Notably, when fewer children from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds are in your classrooms, more thought and preparation will be needed to ensure that the curriculum is supportive of, and not harmful to, all children in the classroom. For example, if you are discussing differences among people in physical features, and you have only one child with a particular hair type, you must take care that that child is not singled out in a negative way.

No. We have designed the curriculum to include many positive representations of people who are White as well. We also attend to many aspects of identity beyond race and ethnicity, such as diversity in language and physical abilities. Our aim is for every single child in a Great First Eight classroom to develop a positive identity, pride in their families, and a sense of belonging in and appreciation for diversity within the classroom and broader community.
No. The curriculum is designed to be used as a whole. Its interdisciplinary and often integrated nature is such that if you use just portions of the day, children will be missing important parts of instruction in any given domain. For example, in K - 2, if you try to use just the science in Quest Co-Lab portion of the day, you will be missing reinforcement and extension of that content that is integrated with literacy instruction in portions of Wonder Co-Lab. Similarly, in Infant and Toddler, using only portions of the curriculum would reduce the coherence of children’s learning experiences, as explorations and projects are infused and reinforced throughout each routine of the day, and would create a confusing experience for both teachers and children.
In Great First Eight, we work to align each piece of our curriculum as tightly as possible to research. Other versions of instructional techniques you may have encountered may not be as closely aligned to research.