From the Director:
Curriculum at the Early Childhood Center is eclectic and varies developmentally from room to room. The teachers and children in each environment also influence it. But some of the schools of thought that influence our curriculum are the Bank Street approach, NAEYC's Developmentally Appropriate Practice, Lillian Katz's the Project Approach and Reggio Emilia. Developmental. Curriculum is based on the understanding that children's growth and learning are developmental - that who they are and how they best learn changes and evolves as they grow. It is also based on the understanding that cognitive development must evolve in concert with social, emotional and physical development. Interactive. Because children learn most effectively through action and interaction, curriculum consists of both ongoing activities and, as appropriate, long term projects. Ongoing curriculum is largely defined by space: areas for block building, books and accessories, story dictation and dramatization, manipulatives and board games, sand or water table, pretend play, art materials, a communication center (for letter writing and card making); and natural science materials and magnifiers. Emergent. Special projects are long term, in depth investigations of a topic. Project curriculum is emergent curriculum, coming from the children's own expressed interests or concerns. Teachers develop a web of ideas based on the children's developmental stages, interests and experience; but the actual day-to-day activities may grow from what happened the day before as well as from that web. Documented. Teachers record and document the children's experiences - acting as memories to help children reflect on what they have said and tried. Teachers point out what children are doing, ask provocative questions, bring in new materials, and teach techniques where appropriate. Many Languages. Children are encouraged to express their ideas in a variety of ways; verbally, but also through drawings and constructions of paper, clay and wire. Teachers use written descriptions, photographs and child-evolved books to enable children's in depth understanding of their work. Scientific Method. Children learn to observe carefully, but also to speculate, to theorize, on questions like: Where does . come from? What makes . happen? What would happen if . ? What can you do with . ? We gather many possible answers and encourage discussion. Teachers also engage children's imagination and cognitive ability, so they can build a coherent narrative to make sense of their world, not simply accumulating isolated facts. Co-Constructive Learning. One way to define this approach is co-constructivist. Children construct their own personality, values and thought process through interaction with peers and adults, and exploratory action on their environment. Teachers facilitate this process by preparing a nurturant environment of open-ended activities that invite experimentation, suggest collaboration and provoke problem solving. Structure. Within a clearly defined structure, children make choices about what to do, who to do it with, about what is fair, and in some cases figuring out together what rules we will follow. Teachers. Teachers interact with children to foster secure relationships with and among children and at the same time provoke healthy cognitive conflict. They validate children's feelings and ideas by recognizing and sometimes documenting and revisiting them. They help children learn to discuss, argue and negotiate with each other; to create symbols, narrative, and symbolic play. Individual and the Whole. Our goal for each child is both autonomy and social reciprocity: ? (for the child) to feel secure in a non-coercive relationship with adults ? to respect the feelings and rights of others and begin to coordinate different points of view (de-centering and cooperating) ? to be independent, alert, and curious; to use initiative in pursuing curiosities ? to have confidence in her ability to figure out things for herself ? to speak her mind with conviction ? to come up with interesting ideas, problems, and questions ? to put things into relationships and notice similarities and differences from Kamii & DeVries 1975/77; in DeVries & Kohlberg '87 p57 Dispositions. We try to promote several dispositions in children, as well as developmentally appropriate skills and knowledge. Dispositions as defined by Lilian Katz are 'habits of mind or tendencies to respond to certain situations in certain ways.' A few of the dispositions we try to promote or strengthen are curiosity, reflectivity, and cooperation.