The Growing Place believes that education should focus on each child in relation to a community of others, rather than each child in isolation. Our curriculum emphasizes the development of children’s social skills, including building friendships, respect for others, conflict resolution and advocating for one’s needs and ideas. Our goal is to promote self-esteem and creative problem solving abilities, which helps children gain the confidence to face new experiences. We have gained inspiration from the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and base our curriculum on the social constructivist theory to teaching and learning.
Parents play an important role not only in transmitting knowledge and values, but by providing the emotional base from which a secure child can move out into the world. Parents are a child’s first and most important teacher. We see ourselves as partners and never replacements for parents. Since parenting is such a complex job, we offer support to parents in each stage of the child’s development.
The learning community we are today is built upon the commitment of the time, talents & resources that families have so generously shared with us.
First and foremost the teacher is a keen observer of the children: listening and watching. Teachers notice the children’s competencies, ways of approaching the world, styles of interaction, preferred modalities for learning and support them to expand these as they encounter other children who may not share their perspective. She shares her observations on each child as a member of the group with her teaching team and with the parents of each child in a formal conference twice a year and informally all throughout the year.
The teacher assists children in making bridges to other children and adults in our school community. Our teachers encourage building relationships through shared experiences but also by teaching social skills, modeling problem solving, and providing language and strategies for conflict resolution. Our teachers slow things down so that the child can understand how their actions and words have effect. Teachers also provoke children into considering other ideas and strategies to expand their repertoire of skills and ideas.
Our teachers work with children in small groups and ask think starter questions rather than give answers to a child’s inquiry. As researchers along with children, our teachers are receptive to following the children’s lead in what to explore next.
To do this kind of teaching, the Growing Place staff is engaged in continuous reflection of their own work. All teachers must have a BA to be certified, and they continue their own growth by attending workshops, courses and visiting other schools using innovative practices. The teachers and staff are our most critical resource we have and they are the ones who make a difference in each child and each family’s experience in our programs.