“How does one become a butterfly?”
“You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” -Trina Paulus
Our goal is to create an environment where children feel safe and comfortable, where play and learning become one. We are an art and play based school that sees the importance of learning through play. We understand that children need to have free unstructured time, to explore their surroundings, create on their own and express themselves as individuals. In allowing children to do this, we are able to observe the children's curiosities and ideas. It is then possible for us as teachers, to incorporate an emergent curriculum, planning activities which reflect those interests. For example, if the children were to spot an owl nesting in a tree outside, and all they could do was talk about this owl. We would begin by asking the children questions to find out what they knew and what they wanted to know. Together we could begin to learn more about owls, such as how they live, what they eat, how they behave. There are all types of indoor and outdoor activities that could be done, from art to science and reading. Throughout the process we would document the journey and in the end would hopefully have helped to enhance the children's knowledge of owls.
We also believe that fostering children's independence will help build their confidence and boost their self esteem. One way we do this is by setting up the environment in a way that allows children to reach the materials they want without requiring the help of a teacher. They are also given the opportunity to be a part of the "whole process" when it comes to things that affect them. For example, snack time does not just consist of eating. There is a whole process which the children can participate in. Beginning with growing vegetables in their own garden, nurturing and tending to their plants, pulling the vegetables when they are ready, washing them, serving themselves, eating together as a group and finally cleaning up their area. Not only does this promote independence and introduce responsibility; they also learn many new skills which promote cognitive, social, emotional, physical and creative growth and development.
Furthermore, we give the children choices about how to handle situations. We allow the children to problem solve and be responsible for the decisions they make. This empowers them and shows them that their feelings and thoughts are important and valued. We feel that incorporating these elements into our program makes for a well balanced preschool experience for all our children.