Our Approach to Teaching and Learning
Both children and teachers initiate the topics we explore, wonder about, and discuss in our preschool classrooms. Some topics develop into in-depth study projects that provide children opportunities to collaborate in small groups to make predictions, test theories, and revisit experiences.
Teachers pose interesting problems that spark interest and encourage children to think... a teacher may ask "Why do you think some bugs can walk upside down and others can't?" A thought provoking question like this invites discussion, stimulates inquiry, and encourages investigation.
Children and teachers learn together as they co-construct and research topics of interest as partners. They work together to "uncover" the curriculum in an emergent way, rather than viewing the teacher as the expert who must "cover" the curriculum by teaching facts and giving information.
In our emergent, inquiry-based curriculum, teachers carefully observe and listen to children. They make written observations, take down notes of dialogues with children, and photograph children as they are create, explore, and play with materials. This documentation of the children's explorations and learning is an integral part of the curriculum.
Our teachers encourage children to slow down and think purposefully to solve problems in different ways. Children are often invited
to draw their ideas - these drawings provide the teacher valuable insight as to what the child is thinking, what he might be confused about, or what she may like to know more about. This helps the teacher plan her next steps, providing creative opportunities for children to learn in meaningful ways.
We acknowledge many families celebrate birthdays and holidays differently, and some do not celebrate them at all. To be respectful to everyone, we implement an anti-bias curriculum in our classrooms. The school curriculum does not promote the idea that one holiday is more important than another, or that everyone celebrates in the same way. However families are invited to share their cultural and religious celebrations with us anytime. Parents are welcome to talk with us at circle-time, help us learn about different traditions, or provide a special snack whenever they would like to.
I had the opportunity to visit this beautiful preschool and I am inspired and delighted! There is a reverence for childhood here that is sadly lacking in many early childhood programs. Here is an oasis from pushed down curricula and rushed childhood. Here is where children learn as they are meant to learn - through play and guidance from a knowledgeable, nurturing staff in an environment that is uncluttered, child centered, and simply beautiful. This is how the foundation for a lifelong love of learning begins. Kudos to the Renaissance School for all that they bring to children and families in their community.
Julie Meservey, Early Childhood Educator and PH.D. Candidate