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Since the mission of the Early Learning Center for Research and Practice is a multifaceted one—embracing university students, young children, and the community—our philosophy must be equally encompassing. Therefore, we consider the following statements as the guide and focus of our experiences with all children and adults.

We believe that children and adults are:

  • Capable, competent, rich, and powerful in ideas and abilities
  • Both uniquely individual and yet similar to others, in thinking and development
  • Active organizers of experience and thoughts
  • Interested in learning primarily though meaningful human relationships
  • Constantly constructing and reconstructing their own theories and understandings of how the world works

Our overall goals focus our efforts on providing learning opportunities that can enable the individual to work towards developing the competencies needed to function successfully and meaningfully in a changing world.

We aim to help children and adults:

  • Trust, respect, and invest emotionally in meaningful personal relationships
  • Acquire and use effective and satisfying problem-finding and problem-solving skills and strategies
  • Be curious about the natural and social world and derive skill and pleasure from learning, exploring and developing ideas, theories, and competencies
  • Understand and organize information about their physical, social, and intellectual environment
  • Develop abilities and interests in representing their ideas in many varied and complex ways, through the use of many media (languages)
  • Develop the ability to act and think independently with assurance and confidence in their ideas, convictions, abilities, and strengths
  • Develop effective means of self-regulation and control, which will enable them to learn, think and act with feelings of self-worth and self-confidence within a complex social and intellectual world
  • Skillfully communicate ideas and feelings

We hope to achieve these goals by:

  • Providing children and adults with open-ended, process-oriented activities and investigations that value play as the preferred medium of learning for young children
  • Providing adequate amounts of time for exploration, skill building, and thinking
  • Having an intellectually complex and rigorous curriculum filled with possibilities
  • Using a wide variety of quality materials designed to promote active exploration and challenges
  • Expecting learners to direct and construct their own learning with the assistance of perceptive, reassuring, and responsive teachers
  • Offering a variety of solitary, small, and large group settings within carefully prepared indoor/outdoor environments that enables children and adults to learn from each other
  • Providing many opportunities to explore and develop competence in the use of representational media (art, construction, music, movement, literacy, play)
  • Providing a developmentally appropriate foundation in the content areas of math, literacy, science, and social studies

In order to successfully accomplish this mission, we expect to create a social and physical environment, in which teachers can:

  • Develop strong, collaborative and empowering relationships with each other, children, and their families based upon mutual respect
  • Observe children’s behavior to determine interests and emerging understandings as the basis of curriculum planning
  • Act as a facilitator for learning by observing, questioning, modeling for, provoking and reinforcing children’s efforts, interests and ideas
  • Encourage children to use each other as facilitators of learning and a source of important social relationships
  • Structure aesthetically pleasing and intellectually rich environments that meet children’s needs, capitalize on their interests, and guide their behavior
  • Provide curriculum possibilities that utilize creative and enticing materials and concepts for children to explore and become skilled at using
  • Document the actions, thoughts, theories, and strategies used by both children and adults as they attempt to make sense of their environments and ideas
  • Use documentation and reflection as collaborative tools for curriculum development
  • Encourage the use of problem solving skills in all situations including social conflict and relationship building
  • Enjoy and have passion for their valued work with children, families and each other