Young children learn by doing. They construct and acquire knowledge through playful interactions with the physical and social world. Children are motivated to learn by their desire to make sense of the fascinating world around them; their primary mode of learning is play.
Because of the way young children learn, which is based on their sensory and motor development, teachers act as guides and facilitators rather than lecturers. They prepare the environment, observe children's understanding, and work along with them, answering questions, suggesting ways they can extend their activities, and introducing new words and ideas. This takes place in a classroom environment using a centers approach, with ongoing changes in materials and activities. Academic information is taught in ways appropriate to each child's development.
Each child is unique. This is expected, accepted, and used in the planning of classroom activities. Children differ in their cultural, socioeconomic and linguistic backgrounds. Differences in abilities, maturation, and learning style occur in the areas of physical, cognitive, social, and emotional growth. Experiences are provided to meet children's needs in all these growth areas.
All interactions, activities, and learning materials are designed to develop self-esteem and positive feelings toward learning.
Exploration and opportunities to make choices are considered in the planning of classroom activities and in on-going daily routines. Children are involved in discovery learning, and are expected to be physically and mentally active. Creativity and problem-solving are encouraged.
Children work mostly in small informal groups or individually. Large group interactions are kept to short periods of time related to the development of the children in the group.
Materials used are concrete and "hands-on". They encourage child involvement and manipulation and are relevant to the Children's life experiences.
There is a focus on the development of self-control rather than adult-control. This is fostered by the use of positive guidance techniques, including modeling, encouraging expected behaviors, redirecting, and the setting of clear limits. Opportunities for developing social skills such as cooperation, negotiation, and assisting others are provided to children, and competition is not stressed.
An abundance of opportunities which provide meaningful experiences in language and literacy are included on a daily basis. Instruction in isolated skill development is not relevant for young children, and worksheets are not used. Appropriate activities include hearing poems and stories, dictating individual and group language experience stories, taking on-campus field trips, participating in dramatic play, and in other experiences which allow for active communication by children.
The program acknowledges and welcomes the different cultural backgrounds of the families who use the center, and values the multi-ethnic composition of its families and staff. All children in the program are supported in the development of strong self-esteem. This, along with the modeling of anti-bias attitudes by adults, allows children to be accepting and understanding of others. The program works hard to create a bias-free environment, and asks the parents to support us in this goal and provide suggestions which might help us in this work.