Resources from which we draw:
The Early Childhood Curriculum: A Creative Play Model by Catron & Allen provides the roots from which our curriculum and programming has grown and matured.
Developmentally Appropriate Practices with its focus on age and individual appropriateness provides boundaries for us as we navigate the immense possibilities for curriculum.
Social Constructivist beliefs—how children construct their own understandings of their world through the relationships they form with peers, adults, and materials—permeate our approach.
The exceptional practices and principles of the Reggio Emilia approach continually inspire us with possibilities for children’s learning.
Principles of the Early Learning Center curriculum:
- Central to our approach is an idea borrowed from the Reggio Emilia approach—all children are competent, capable, and ready to learn, having rich and powerful ideas;
- Observation of children—their skills and interests—is the foundation from which our curriculum emerges;
- Analysis of our observations of children provides the road map that shows us the direction to go when planning curriculum;
- Thorough knowledge of child development in the following areas—emotional well-being, socialization, communication, cognition, perceptual motor, and self-help provides detail for what children need to master and at what ages;
- Noticing and appreciating the uniqueness of each child—ability, personality, temperament, style—keeps us focused on providing a range of possibilities for children;
- Play is the vehicle through which young children can learn most effectively;
- Challenging learning opportunities in the major content areas—literacy, math, science, music, and art ensure create a foundation for later formal education;
What do the classroom and the day look like?
- Learning centers such as drawing and writing, blocks, puzzles and games, books, housekeeping, dramatic play, science, discovery, painting and art are found in each toddler and preschool classroom.
- A wide variety of challenging, enticing, creative materials are available in each of the learning centers for children to examine, manipulate, and construct with.
- Children are free to choose the areas and materials they would like to work on and may move independently around the classroom, however, there are times during the day when only one choice exists.
- Images of children studying and gaining understanding of their world and examples of their work are carefully presented for viewing and reflection.
- The day includes a balance—individual, small and large group activities, quiet/active experiences, indoor/outdoor, child-initiated and teacher-initiated activities, focused investigative work, physical care and routines.
- Routines such as lunch and snack times, diapering and toileting, clean-up, rest time, and transitions indoors and outdoors are considered opportunities for learning.
Children in the Early Learning Center for Research and Practice:
- Form a community living and working with others in their classroom group;
- Actively engage in situations that require them to think, plan, experiment, analyze, problem solve, and reflect;
- Creatively use words, materials, and art supplies to construct, express, and represent their ideas;
- Learn about, interact with, and experience children and adults who are different from them; and
- Develop skills and dispositions for learning—questioning, study, hypothesis-building, and analysis.