The core educational philosophy that guides our program is the “Developmental Interaction” approach. “Developmental” refers to our belief that children learn best when they are ready for new experiences. When a child is fully able to experience each stage of development in the social, physical, emotional and cognitive realms, she will then be prepared to move on to new experiences and learn new skills. Each stage is an essential building block in the growth of a child. “Interaction” refers to the idea that experiences lead to learning when they occur in a socially and physically responsive environment. A carefully planned environment encourages safe, spontaneous, hands-on exploration and supports the development of curiosity, problem-solving, physical development and social growth. Young children learn best when they have many opportunities for interaction with the people and materials in their world. We endeavor to create an atmosphere that nurtures self-esteem through positive relationships with others along with respect and acknowledgment of each child’s individuality and competence.
We also embrace elements of the Reggio Emilia approach, which views the child as highly capable and filled with the potential to “co-construct their knowledge” along with highly observant, responsive teachers; children and teachers learn together. Emergent, thematic, project-based curriculum is the cornerstone of the Reggio approach. Mediums such as clay, colored pencil and recycled materials are the means through which children express what they have come to know. Additionally, observational drawings are key in training the child to see carefully and to transcribe that seeing. The process of learning is made visible to children and parents alike through “documentation”, which may include drawings, photos and the children’s or teacher’s descriptions of various aspects of a project
Our program is integrated with exploratory activities to meet the developmental needs of each child. Because young children learn through rich and varied play, an important time of the day is activity/free-play time, when each child chooses from areas such as blocks, dramatic play, art, books, manipulative materials, drawing/writing center, water/sand play and group activities such as cooking or planting. Each group has an active play period on the playground as well as several group times for story, snack, music and movement and discussions.
OUR curriculum is centered on supporting children’s social, emotional, physical, language and cognitive development. Some key elements and examples are listed below:
- Support curriculum based on children’s interests, current developmental issues and naturally occurring phenomena.
- Build on children’s natural creativity, curiosity, wonder and delight in problem-solving, using symbols and thinking more abstractly.
- Plan for enriching science, social studies, math and literacy activities
- Science: utilize scientific method, garden program, life cycle, simple machines, weather, cooking, class pets
- Social studies: All About Me, family curriculum, visiting other classrooms or offices, tours
- Math: sequencing, categorizing, patterning, graphing, voting, counting songs, number puzzles, geoboards, Unifi cubes, working with blocks, calendar
- Literacy (which includes speaking, listening, writing, reading): reading fiction and non-fiction books, letter puzzles, tracing, storytelling, sharing at meeting time, drawing/painting, making individual and group books, taking dictation
- Build strong, trusting relationships between children, parents and teachers
- Provide a physically and emotionally safe and responsive environment
- Support children in positive problem solving/conflict resolution
- Support greater independence, responsibility and choice
- Implement daily routines to give children a sense of predictability and security
- Acknowledge and label children’s feelings
- Increase children’s vocabulary through stories, songs, thematic studies, group discussions
- Provide opportunities to play with language through rhyming, word games and stories
- Provide abundant opportunities for gross motor play and exploration, both indoors and out
- Provide a variety of activities and materials to challenge and strengthen fine motor skills
- Challenge children with physical problem-solving activities during Music and Movement classes