King Street Cooperative Preschool combines the best elements of a number of early childhood educational theories to arrive at a unique co-op preschool program. The five main components of the philosophy and mission of King Street Cooperative Preschool are described below.
We recognize that playing is the primary learning experience for children. Our program revolves around, responds to, and addresses the real needs of the children in the program. Our knowledge of sound child development theories and practices, as well the observation of the enrolled children determines these needs. Our goal is to create an environment where kids do what comes naturally. At the same time we take the opportunity to assist a child who needs help initiating a project or who needs his/her ideas, suggestions and observations affirmed.
We believe that when families work together to provide a cooperative preschool, they create a vital sense of community and a healthy environment for children's optimal growth and development. School can become an extension of home when family members are encouraged to help shape curriculum by sharing their skills, interests, and experience. The co-op is run as a democratic, responsive, and participatory group whose members are accountable to each other and the larger community. Healthy family-to-family relationships are built as parents help educate one another, share classroom observations and concerns, and care for one another's children.
We believe that playing is the primary learning experience for children. Our goal is to create an environment where children "do what comes naturally," which is play. We trust that the strongest, most powerful learning occurs in an environment where children are free to choose their own activities in a setting rich with a variety of materials and resources. While curriculum may be created around themes, we know that child-initiated and directed activities foster the child's greatest sense of competence, power, and control. Therefore, "emergent" curriculum relies on adults to act as resource people supplying tools and support for children in response to their expressed or anticipated needs. Extended free play time allows children multiple opportunities to engage in social relationships, and allows for individuality, enthusiasm, and imagination. Through play, an integrated approach to learning occurs as children absorb information relating to all areas of learning ‐ sensory/perceptual, practical life, math operations, language/communication, and cultural/spiritual ‐ in many ways through multiple senses at once.
This approach trusts that children have the ability to solve their own problems with the facilitation and support of a skilled adult to guide them through the process. For young children the goal is learning to use the problem solving process, rather than always finding the solution. The philosophy teaches children to respect themselves and others, accept responsibility, think for themselves, express feelings and empathize with others. Even very young children can use this philosophy successfully.
Anti-bias philosophy maintains that diversity is positive, while oppressive behaviors are negative. Anti-bias curriculum is based on concept that it is detrimental for children to develop biases against people of different color, religious and ethic culture, sexual orientation, ability or economic class. An anti-bias approach provides an inclusive education, which is based on children's developmental stage as they build identity and form attitudes. In addition, curriculum goals include enabling every child to construct a confident self-identity, encouraging understanding and accptance of the common humanity all people share. This ecourages critical thinking and helps a child develop the ability to stand up for oneself and others when faced with injustice. These objectives, which are activist in nature, include helping every child learn and practice varieties of responses to different situations.
We have a large gym space which the children and their families enter each morning.
Those families who are working parents that day arrive earlier than others to help set up the space. The children that arrive earlier get a quiet peak at what's in store for the day. At 10am, children begin arriving. They are greeted by children, parents and teachers alike. Our day opens with free chocie play, so decision making is required. Children can run to one of our smaller rooms off of the big gym (Kitchen/Art Room or Home Center room) or explore in the big gym space. Gradually the noise level rises as more children arrive. Whether painting on their own tray of paints filled with primary colors, climbing on a big cube and slide, puzzles, hearing a story, or writing in their own journal, kids are busy. Snack opens at around 10:30 and children go in and out of snack on their own volition. When a group of children gather into one area or request a certain activity the teacher responds emergently by extending their ideas with song, a book, a prop, etc. Around 11:30 Clean Up time begins. Children participate in this process. After the space is cleaned up, the teacher leads the whole group in a planned activity involving song, games and stories. Everyone heads outside around 12. Some working parents stay inside to complete further pack up and clean up duties. The whole group gathers again inside around 12:40 for a closing circle. Parents arrive during this time to provide laps for their children as the teacher leads the group through some new activities as well as familiar rituals to close the day.