“I was never bored.
There were always some new activity to do. They gave us so many interesting projects.”
— Matthew, Age 10
Individual Skill-Based and
Individual skill-based learning is designed to meet the individual development and learning style of each child. Project-based learning focuses on an open-ended inquiry about topics that are introduced by the teacher or that have emerged from the class. Both approaches are used in all of our groups.
There exists a tendency in our society to rush, to always push ahead, a need to be first. While this model may fit certain areas of the adult business world, it is inappropriate and counterproductive in the world of early childhood. When children are permitted to grow according to their own timetable and are presented with learning situations that match their developmental level, while concurrently being offered appropriate challenges, their innate passion for learning is supported. However, when children are expected by parents or teachers to run before they can walk, their natural zest for learning can be damaged or extinguished before it has had a real opportunity to emerge. At the Children’s Studio a child’s learning readiness factor is always considered. Suitable challenges combined with abundant caring and support create an atmosphere where children flourish.
The curriculum in our two-year-old program is focused on providing support for their emerging sense of self, while simultaneously helping them accept the necessary safe limits that must be set for them. While constantly on the move and emotionally volatile, twos are filled with excitement for what, why, and how questions. Activities and projects are planed that directly relate to their natural inclinations and their desire to be explores and imaginative pretenders. Language development, introduction to reading through storytelling and books, and tactile experiences are woven throughout the day yearlong. Over the course of the school term, children learn how to be competent helpers, able beginning direction followers, singers, dancers, painters, and good friends.
Three-Year-Old and Pre-K Programs
Many preschool and pre-kindergarten programs follow a traditional model of putting pre-academic activities at the center of the program and the creative arts at the outside edges of the program. At the Children’s Studio a model closer to that of the one proposed by Jacque Derrida is followed. Creative arts are at our core and pre-academic activities, although not at the far edges are filtered through the core prism. For example, if children in our three-year-old group were involved in a numbers activity, one would most likely find them painting zebra stripes or leopard spots. An extension of that activity in our pre-kindergarten group might manifest by having children make small clay bricks to build an Egyptian pyramid or clay beads to decorate an American Indian dream catcher, or measuring out flour to make bread. In these examples, the children would be learning about animals, different cultures, or cooking. They also would, however, be involved in the solid beginning math activities of counting, measuring, identifying, copying, creating, describing, and extending non-numeric patterns. This is all accomplished while having a lot of fun. Over time children who have repeated experience of this nature acquire a substantial information base born out of their life experiences.
The major goals of the Children’s Studio are to have children leaving our program having developed the following:
excellent life skills,
the capacity to think for themselves,
the ability to solve problems creatively,
the realization that there is usually more that one answer to a question,
to embrace experimentation and exploration,
to respect and be socially responsible to their family members, to their friends, and to their community,
to be able to hear and trust their own internal voice.
But most importantly, we want our students to feel truly good about themselves knowing they have the self-confidence to embrace the challenges that they will meet in the larger world of kindergarten and beyond.