What makes us unique?
"What we want to do is activate within children the desire and will and great pleasure that comes from being the authors of their own learning." ~Loris Malaguzzi
We are a school environment that provides care 'close to home'
We provide an environment that stimulates the children and allows them to investigate and explore limitless things without hindering their profound creativity and imagination in a setting that is modeled to feel like home.
Our set up is respectfully designed solely for the children
We do not use highchairs, bouncers, exersaucers, jumpers, or other devices that could contain children and stifle their curiosity and ability to explore. Our space is designed in respect of the child. Everything is at their level: they eat a communal table their height (even the infants), materials are set up to support their independence, and teachers are down on the floor most of the day especially when speaking with the children. The teacher is not the center of their day, conversely the teacher is there to support their creativity and investigation.
Our love and respect for the planet
We strongly encourage a respect for the earth through recycling, gardening, cloth diapering, supporting breastfeeding families, organic and healthy meal choices, use of recycled materials, and sharing used materials through our Family Share Program.
Use of light and other mediums for spatial and visual exploration of the senses
Our space is designed to invite light. We have full pane glass doors and many windows that allow for natural circulation of sunlight throughout our space as well as encouraging the children's social interaction between the rooms.
Each classroom starting in older infancy has a light table for adding new dimensions to familiar materials and allowing the children to explore and investigate them in a new way. Prima Scuola (preschool age) classroom has a projector for experimenting with size, reflection, shadows, and projection. This opportunity allows children to take light to an all new level by encouraging them to create and test scientific hypotheses and theories; "What is transparency? Will this make a shadow or project it's color?" or "What happens if I stand in front of the light?
Mirrors are also a wonderful resource for the inquisitive young child. Reflections are the beginnings of facial expression and exploration outside of studying the faces of parents and caregivers; its the initial understanding of the relationship of self to the world and that it is their reflection staring back at them. That relationship with reflection grows over time as the child grows and learns about relationships and explores light theory.
Children are competent beings.
Children are inquisitive brilliant minds with limitless creativity. Teachers are there to guide their flow of learning and maintain a sequential schedule with a curriculum based upon their interests rather than that of the teachers’.
Use of open ended materials.
It is through play and interaction with the world around them that children learn. Materials and objects in the their environment left to the infinite possibilities of their imagination and creativity give them the ability to create their own play without being told what a toy is meant to do or how it is meant to be played with. Toys and materials with predetermined schemas do not allow for much leverage for play, but those that are open ended allow a child to create a world of limitless possibilities. A block can be a phone, a car, a truck, a space ship, etc, etc, etc. a tube could be a fire hose, an elephants trunk, a snake, and so on. Open ended materials can be anything from donated pieces of unused objects from factory production, blocks, tubes, water, ice, snow, sand, box[es], tape, blank pieces of paper, pieces of cloth, fabric, or scarves, mirrors, lights, and so very much more.
Community Support and Parental Involvement
Having a strong involvement in and understand of the world around us, both inside and out, is a crucial part of the development of self. It is through the exploration relationships between the world vs. self and learning to make the connection that there are other people in the world apart from us, that children learn their role within their community. We encourage giving, helping, volunteering, and building relationships also with those apart from ourselves. By also encouraging parents, a child's first teacher, to be involved in their child's school community as well as the larger outside community, models the kind of loving and respectful relationships we are trying to support.
Gently and naturally designed with the earth in mind
Our atmosphere is modeled to be close to that of a home. Each classroom has a gathering space with a couch and furniture to settle calmly and read a book with friends, as well as a kitchen eating space where friends can come to eat together and share stories thus closely resembling family-style gatherings. Our space has eco-friendly bamboo flooring that resembles the wood flooring of a home rather than cold, brightly colored tile, as well as encourages the use of materials that replenish easily in nature. Our walls are painted nicely muted earth tones with low-VOC, environmentally friendly paint as to not distract the children from their explorations and investigations by visual or chemical overstimulation.
Our walls are filled with several specific accounts of written documentation of the children's learning and tasteful displays of their unique artwork. This allows the children to share the learning that takes place throughout the day with their parents as well as to revisit past experiences with friends. A gentle atmosphere allows the children to explore, play, and create in a space that supports natural learning without interruption from teacher-designed color schemes, uniform artwork, and other designs that may stifle creativity or distract children's work throughout the day.