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For Early Childhood Education

How the “4 Cs” Guide The Malvern School Curriculum

By Helene Swartz, Senior Program Operations Manager, The Malvern School

Helene Swartz, The Malvern School Senior Program Operations Manager

“We cannot build the future for our youth — but we can build our youth for the future.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt


Dennis Van Roekel, former president of the National Education Association, cited this famous Franklin D. Roosevelt quote in his introduction to “An Educators Guide to the 4 Cs.” He goes on to state, “It is our duty to do whatever we can to help our students connect learning with real life and to provide them with the necessary skills to prepare them for success.”


This is the foundation for the concept of the “4 Cs.” Research suggests in order for children in today’s society to be successful in school and an ever-changing workforce, they need to exhibit proficiencies in these core competencies:


  • Communication – Conveying messages and information in a way that is understandable to others, whether it’s verbally, in writing, through pictures, charts, graphs, etc.


  • Collaboration – Working effectively with others on projects or tasks, requiring the ability to listen to others, compromise and cooperate


  • Critical Thinking – Examining/analyzing data, using trial and error and thinking outside the box to solve problems


  • Creativity – Trying new methods to meet a goal or objective


Starting with early childhood education, the 4 Cs should be integrated into standard curriculum – in areas like reading, math and science – to foster these critically important skills in children.


That’s exactly what we do at The Malvern School.


We integrate the 4 Cs in age-appropriate ways across various aspects of our curriculum by:


  • Planning learning experiences that are unique to children’s individual interests and needs
  • Providing a safe, respectful environment where children feel comfortable expressing themselves
  • Promoting problem solving and experimentation, for example, providing a wide range of materials that can be used to construct and represent ideas
  • Setting up learning centers to allow for individual and small group work
  • Allowing children opportunities throughout the day to decide what activities they want to focus on and explore
  • Facilitating children through their own thinking by using prompts, asking open-ended questions and encouraging them to explain their thinking (Tell me about what you made. Why did you use those materials? What do you think would happen if you…? How could you make it go faster?)


21st century jobs require the abilities to work as a member of a diverse team, think differently, innovate, communicate clearly and reason effectively. There’s no better way to empower future leaders to master these skills – and set them up for success – than by making practice a daily part of their lives as young children.

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