Consistent with our view of children, our curriculum is emergent, meaning that it arises naturally from a discourse or series of interactions between the child and the teacher, or between the child and their peers. Because we place importance on the role of communication in the learning process, we value the work of Lev Vygotsky and Loris Malaguzzi, who both understood that children learn in relationship with others.
In addition to this view of children as socially interdependent, we also view children as competent individuals who are interested in having a say in their own education. Children naturally want to learn, and it is often a matter of getting out of their way. By closely observing the child's interests and areas of focus, we are able to help them to develop their ideas, expand upon their initial interpretations and deepen their understanding.
In this way, we value a long-term project approach to learning. By encouraging and sustaining these slowly unfolding investigations, we are supporting the development of critical thinking skills and allowing for time in the learning process. Because of the nature of in-depth study, the child necessarily must utilize tools of reading, writing, mathematics, and science. Within this naturally meaningful context, the knowledge attained in these content areas has staying power by association to the interest of the child.
Additionally, in a multi-age setting children will encounter opportunities to scaffold each other, and be scaffolded in the learning process. This type of peer support is powerful in a way that adult support cannot be; it allows children to teach each other, and therefore own their knowledge, skills and ability to communicate.
Environment & Materials
By offering children a wide variety of materials, we allow them to construct their own learning. Materials that are open-ended and can be used in various ways are the most effective for promoting critical thinking and imaginative play. In addition, we can help encourage children to be confident and competent by organizing materials in a way that allows children to easily access them and understand how to put them away. We are always looking for new materials to ensure that we have a variety of novel provocations, so if you have anything you might like to donate, please see our donation page for ideas.
Offerings that have been given by teachers:
Offerings that have been given by parents:
Offerings that have been given by children:
shoe-box cities, magic dust, wood sculptures, dancing, painting, book sharing, book making, bug hunting, etc.
Offerings that have been given by community members:
Children should be respected as people, and valued for who they are, rather than for who they might become. Therefore, it is important to provide an education for the whole child by valuing their social, emotional, physical, linguistic, and logical-mathematical intelligences.
Because we believe that no child can be forced to learn, we think children should be offered an environment which encourages their natural inclination to learn. By respecting the child's right to make choices regarding his or her education, we support the development of their self-awareness, as well as their self-regulation.
In an environment where children feel safe and confident, they are free to be their naturally competent selves.
We view the role of the teacher as flexible and changing as the needs of the children change. The teacher is the caretaker of the environment, a model for the children to emulate and a keeper of the educational philosophy. As teachers, we trust that children will learn if we allow them both freedom and access to resources. Hence, we view the teacher as more of a shadow than a director, ready to step in and assist when necessary, to provide a possible expansion to an idea, to ask a challenging question, or just to document and record an experience for later reflection. Please see our Teacher Preparation Program if you are interested in finding out how you can learn more about this type of teaching.
At school we believe that computers can be used for research, for communication, and for expression. We frequently use the school laptops to look up some tidbit of information we couldn't find in a book, or to find a video of some type of insect or musical instrument that the children have never seen but are curious about. The computers are always used with a teacher, who can use the opportunity to talk about search engines, about finding trusted sources of information, about avoiding advertisements, about how careful one must be with the computer itself, or about other topics that may come up. These concepts, along with the idea that computers are helpful tools, are then explored and experienced in a meaningful and safe context. As for communication, we use the computers to show the children pictures of events so that we can reflect on our experiences together, we show them short videos of themselves, and sometimes we might send an email together if it is relevant (such as a note inviting parents to an event). As an example, we once took a video of a group of children putting on a puppet show for the first time and then let them review the video so that they could see what improvements they wanted to make (one particular puppet kept slipping behind the stage, which they could then see once they became the audience). In addition, we also hope to expose children (as appropriate) to programs like word processors, paintshop, and digital photo progams so that they have additional means for expressing themselves. For example, we have discovered that some children who might not have the fine motor skills to write well, but who are interested in letters will get excited about learning to spell by using a word processor, which will in turn help them learn to read and write.
Ultimately, these guided experiences with technology at an early age will help children to become computer literate and will help them understand the many ways that computers can be helpful tools.