Early Childhood Education
We seek to continually create an environment responsive to the developmental needs of each child. This process of motor, sensory, and intellectual developmental is enhanced through our physical classroom, the daily activities, and each child’s individual freedom to learn.
Respect is at the core of our philosophy – respect for each person, for life, and for the environment. Respect for each child’s individuality, learning style and intentions set the stage for trusting relationships; and trust is essential for growth/learning to take place.
Learning and growth are viewed as synonymous with living; and knowledge and knowers are construed as inextricably bound. Learning is an on-going, dynamic process of self-construction within a social context. It is a transactional process that affirms collaboration and community; participants teach and learn from one another.
In our mixed age groupings, children learn from one another (collaborative learning), gain autonomy, and develop positive self-esteem. The social and emotional growth of each child cannot be separated from his or her intellectual growth. Language is key to this growth. As facilitators of this development, we watch all our words carefully to give praise that doesn’t demean and correction that doesn’t wound. We fill our classrooms with talk about people, events, ideas, and plans. Children ‘use their words’ to learn, negotiate, collaborate, and express their dreams and needs.
As facilitators of this development, we strive to model growth and learning by incorporating and investigating all the best theories and practices of early childhood development and education into our personal and collective pedagogies. We recognize the significant contribution of Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. Just as there exists multiple ways to define intelligence, there exists multiple ways to learn, teach, grow and develop. Many individuals, theories, and pedagogies influence our philosophy and classroom methodology. These include, but are not limited to, the work of Dr. Maria Montessori, the classrooms of Reggio Emilia, and the developmental theory of Jean Piaget.
We respect and incorporate the work of Dr. Maria Montessori in creating settings in which children could be most comfortable and thus productive. She noted that children make appropriate choices and immerse themselves in their work when confusions in their lives are minimized. In our prepared environments children construct their intellectual understandings while acquiring a positive disposition towards all kinds of learning. In these settings, consistency and dependability are the norm. In addition, children are given both time and space to explore and work at their own pace and their own learning style.
We recognize that young children learn through active engagement with high content, meaningful, multi-sensory materials. All classroom experiences encourage independence, involvement and risk-taking. The goal is to help children learn how to learn.
Along with Howard Gardner, the classrooms of Reggio Emilia echo the goals of encouraging independence and risk-taking through an individualized approach to curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. The understanding of children’s learning – how children organize and make sense of their experience - found in the Reggio approach inspires us. We embrace their celebration of “the hundred languages of children.” We strive to incorporate these understandings into our daily learning helping our students probe deeply into areas that interest them.
Jean Piaget’s understanding of the developmental stages of early childhood helps frame our expectations of children. It is this understanding that forms the foundation for our policy on discipline and consequence. When we meet children and hold expectations appropriate to his/her developmental growth, an environment of respect and cooperation is cultivated.
To address the unique physical developmental stages of early childhood the “Gym” offers a unique component to our program. Because we believe that individuals create what they know, we employ tumbling and movement as a unique tool to create an opportunity for each child to know the feeling of authentic success. It is our goal to help each child realize, “I can do it!” so that each child learns to believe in his or her unique ability to create this success for him/herself.
We believe that our Early Childhood approach supports attitudes and behaviors needed today as well as those that will be needed in the future, into the 21st century. These include: personal empowerment and culture pluralism; global thinking and ecological awareness; flexibility and adaptability; creativity and innovation; respect, caring, and responsibility; and competencies of all kinds.