Our Pre-school Program is built upon the philosophy of leading experts such as: Maria Montessori Jean Piaget and Vygotsky as well as the inspiration that has come out of the Reggio Emilia approach, which is hailed as an exemplary model of Early Childhood Education (Newsweek, 1991). We use the Reggio approach as a resource as we continue to develop our program.
We provide an environment that is warm and welcoming. Child related displays, including children's artwork, a variety of natural materials, and family photos are all displayed at children's eye level. The space is organized for small and large group activities, with small quiet spaces for one or two children. Common spaces available to all children include the lunch areas and worktables for children from different classrooms to come together.
The Progettazion (curriculum) that our teachers use embrace the many components of the Reggio approach, including observation, collaboration and documentation. The teachers carefully observe the children and choose studies based on their interests, community outings or family events. The teachers and children then collaborate on the types of materials to be used for various activities related to the study. Our strong belief in the "hands on" method is reinforced as we incorporate Math, Science, Literacy, Social Studies, imaginative play and the Arts. As our studies evolve, planning changes are made to the environment, a variety of multi-sensory activities are used each day as individuals and groups of children work and play together. Class schedules are designed with built-in flexibility which gives sufficient time for children to express and expand upon their ideas.
Through Project work the children and teachers have the opportunity to research a project together. These projects are a true reflection of the children's work and their interests. During project work children are encouraged to interact, plan, critique, and problem solve. This multiple perspective approach is viewed as promoting both "a sense of group membership and the Uniqueness of self" (Reggio Emilia Philosophy).
Journals are used for children to spontaneously use their emergent writing skills as well as for home-school communication. The classroom is filled with photos, printed signs and labels, in addition to an abundance of writing and drawing materials to be used in any interest area. Children are encouraged to draw or write independently and with teacher guidance. The use of studies and interest areas are an ideal way to incorporate literacy skills.
Documentation and Assessment Documentation is used as an assessment tool as well as a teaching tool. Documentation of the children's work through each stage of a project provides the children the opportunity to revisit their work as they construct and reconstruct their understanding of a study. As our teachers observe and document through pictures and words the children's learning becomes more visible to the parents and teachers as well as the chidren.