Today, while there is complete agreement on the value of early childhood education, there is not total consensus on what effective education should be. There is a wide variance of thought on how the goals of early childhood education should be achieved. Since no one school can serve all children equally well, it is the purpose of this paper to define these goals and the environment we will provide for an optimum growing and learning experience.
Our underlying philosophy is that of a child-centered community. The young child should first feel the pleasure of all the things he/she can do. We offer an environment geared toward success for the child and one which eliminates competition. Thus learning about himself, and his capacities, is of the utmost importance. The child who likes herself can afford to like others. The environment is planned to allow freedom of choice, freedom for the child to be himself, yet achieve self-discipline. This is achieved by incorporating several elements: First, all of the teachers feel a deep respect for, and value, each child for the individual that he/she is. Second, the environment is conducive to each child's feeling free to experiment and investigate; free to try new things, to make mistakes; free to have his/her own ideas and to carry them out; and even free to say no, to do nothing. Third, because we know that growth brings changes, we can help the child deal with the conflicts and difficulties that come with change. We will help him move in a positive direction towards physical and psychological growth. This involves the setting of limits. Limits are established which will be of benefit to the child rather than to make things more convenient for the adult. Limits will help the youngster learn more about safety, respect for the rights of others and respect for property. The limits are consistent and carried through in a firm, but gentle, manner.
We believe that there are critical periods in development when growth is most affected by the environment. We must give the child what she needs at that time in order that she may pass on to the next stage of development. We know that each child needs to move at his own pace of learning through the stages. We encourage, but do not pressure, learning. We respect childhood and know that certain achievements must be met before the child will be ready to move ahead. Because all aspects of growth are interrelated, our curriculum considers the intellectual, physical, emotional and social development.
We believe that children learn by becoming involved. We do not expect children to sit, listen and learn by rote while adults pour facts into their minds. Rather, we create an environment to which they can respond; one in which they can feel; one that they can mold, invent and improvise, take apart and put together; one that they can master. Thus learning through planned, guided play becomes an important facet of our curriculum. We will offer many sensory experiences for the young child to become aware of his environment and use it for his own creativity. The intellectual development is a very important part of our curriculum, though it is not presented in a formal, structured manner with an academic approach. The teacher's thoughtful planning allows the child to share in the responsibility of the curriculum. In this way, basic concepts and knowledge are gained in a relevant way, at the optimum time.
Our philosophy is not concerned with quick surface changes in behavior or mastery of skills. Nor are we concerned with the finished products your child creates. We are concerned about healthy, positive behaviors and the gradual processes by which your child achieves them. We want to make sure each child finds out what it means to be human, and learns to experience him/herself as a valued member of his/her community. To help him/her learn to function successfully in that community, we emphasize conflict resolution. We facilitate a problem-solving process between the children and we accept their resolution, rather than imposing ours.
Our techniques and methods may change as we grow in knowledge, but our values will remain constant.