"Philosophy and Practices at Reba Early Learning Center
We believe that a child's healthy development depends upon the security of trusting relationships with caregivers. These trusting relationships become a secure base for the child. That base of trust gives the child the support and stability necessary to explore, learn, and form relationships with others.
We foster trusting, on-going relationships at RELC by having a child stay with their initial group and teacher during the years they attend RELC. Every attempt is made to keep consistency in this group. This enables the teacher to get to know the child well and it enables the child to feel more secure and to focus more attention on learning and growing. It also offers the child an opportunity to establish deeper relationships over time and to develop a greater understanding regarding the diversity of people.
The classroom group is comprised of children of varying chronological ages and developmental levels. The ratio of children to adults ranges from 5:1 to 8:1 depending on the time of day. Within the classroom the children are a part of a group of 16 to 18 children as well as part of a developmentally similar small group. These small groups engage in developmentally appropriate activities and share meal times together. The continuity of this group as a social setting for the child is meant to be an extension of the secure, trusting relationship established in the home.
Engaging in constructive play is the primary way in which young children learn. Each classroom at RELC has activity centers designed by teachers to provide environments where children can explore, ask questions, make predictions, figure things out, and construct knowledge about the world. By interacting with the children, observing, and reading the children's cues, the teachers are able to modify the environment, ask questions and make comments to reinforce and expand their learning.
Within the classrooms there is a broad developmental range of ability and maturity. The learning environment is designed to have multiple access points. This enables children to work and play along side one another with similar materials in different ways.
In developing curriculum, teachers look to the children's interests and challenge the children to explore a topic in depth as long as the interest exists. During this exploration, the focus is on the process rather than the end product. The children are encouraged to ask questions, try different approaches, follow their curiosity, and investigate.
At RELC we place an emphasis on emergent literacy. Teachers create environments and experiences that help children discover the purpose of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Children's effort in these areas are encouraged and celebrated. One example of an activity frequently engaged in at RELC is story theater. During story theater one child dictates a short, original story to a teacher. The teacher reads the story to the children in the group and they choose the characters that they will play. The teacher then reads the story while the children act it out. Story theater is a highly motivating experience that engages children in all aspects of literacy.
As Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers says, "school is for learning how to learn and how to really like to learn." This learning includes all aspects of the child's growth and development, which we adults like to divide into socio-emotional, physical, and cognitive. Of course, in the child's real world all of these areas are developing simultaneously.
Excerpted from the preschool's website