At the heart of ACC is a philosophy that guides and directs its structures, systems and operations. This philosophy and the educational practices that come from it are captured through the following 5 concepts:
1)the whole child
2)developmentally appropriate education 3)anti-bias perspective
5)competent, caring teaching staff
Whole Child - The curriculum - activities and experiences - that are provided for the children are based on an understanding that there are specific areas of growth and development within the child including social, emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual/moral. These areas are not separate from one another, but interactive. It is our belief that tremendous growth occurs in children in all of the above areas and it is our job to provide an enriching environment that nurtures this growth.
Developmentally Appropriate Education - this approach to education is based on the understanding that children progress through stages of development in the different areas of growth. For example, in physical growth we know that children roll over and sit up before they crawl, and crawl before they walk (usually!). Likewise, in social growth children play alone first (parallel play) before they begin to play with others (cooperative play). In general, there are predictable patterns to growth. The rate at which individual children progress through the stages varies from child to child. Even within the same child there are variations of growth. A child may be intellectually precocious, yet socially delayed. This information is important as teachers plan curriculum, set up classrooms and design routines. We are currently using The Creative Curriculum which is based on developmental theory and a learning center structure as our curricular framework. Our understanding of the developmental growth of children is largely based on the work of Jean Piaget who studied how children acquire knowledge, Erik Erikson who studied the social dimension of human growth, Stanley Greenspan who charted the milestones of emotional development and Lawrence Kohlberg who marked the stages of moral growth. We are indebted to these theorists as we observe children and plan environments that help all the children to reach their potential. Developmental assessments using the tool called Desired Results Developmental Profile are done twice a year on each child to determine the developmental stage of each child and to plan for future growth. These assessments are discussed with families at Parent-Teacher conferences which are held in the Fall and Spring each year.
Anti-bias Perspective - The children we are caring for are growing up into a society that is becoming increasingly more diverse. They need specific tools to become effective citizens of this global society. An 'anti-bias' perspective begins with a recognition and celebration of the uniqueness of each child. It honors the children in terms of their color, likes and dislikes, abilities, ethnic heritage, etc. In addition, children learn to appreciate the differences in others while at the same time learning about the common ties that bind us as human beings. Issues of justice come into play as children work on questions of 'fairness' in their own classrooms. We are grateful to Pacific Oaks College for their development of this theory and its application in the classroom. Family Centered - Our work with the children in our programs is not complete without the active participation of the parents. The most recent research about children's success in education seems to indicate that the most accurate predictor of academic success is the level of involvement of a child's parents. We want to help you begin or continue that involvement! While your participation definitely enhances your child's experiences, it also enriches the quality of programs we can offer. Parents have many talents and skills to bring to our program. With the support of parents we can offer special activities for children, raise funds for new equipment and learn about interesting topics! But, probably the most important reason for the involvement of parents in our programs is to create a sense of community for the children and adults. A sense of belonging is important to the well-being of kids and grownups! Competent, Caring Teaching Staff - If parent involvement is key to a child's success in school, a well-trained teaching staff is essential to this success as well. The greatest predictor of a quality child care program is a quality teaching staff. We understand this and work hard to recruit and retain competent and caring teachers. The work of a child care teacher is hard. It requires a vast knowledge of children and families, skills and techniques for managing a classroom and, even, plumbing expertise! The work is hard, yet the rewards are great. Teachers thrive on being a part of the growth of a child. Yet teachers in child care are undervalued and underpaid. It is a part of the work of Altadena Children's Center to support teachers in their struggle to be recognized as the professionals they are and to participate in the nationwide campaign to increase the status and salaries of child care workers.
Our days provide a balance of indoor and outdoor times, large and small group experiences, and teacher directed and child initiated activities. The schedule of each day is consistent for the children to provide the security and predictability they need in their day. Following is the flow of a typical day:
*Indoor self-selected activities
*Indoor Group Gathering for language development (stories, songs, fingerplays)
*Learning Center choices (literacy, art, science, dramatic play, blocks, math/manipulatives, etc.)
*Learning Center choices
*Late night snack
*Indoor quiet activities