Child-centered and Inquiry-led Perspective
Children deserve to be listened to and encouraged to pose their own questions. This enables them to work through solving problems and challenges them to engage in reflection as they develop their own ideas. We celebrate the unique proclivities and the integrity of each child! Honing the strengths of children supports positive self-awareness as they grow. Our program aims to teach children to appreciate their own abilities, knowledge, experience, and feelings and, in turn, come to appreciate the abilities, knowledge and experience of others.
We support children best by following their natural curiosities and inklings and by setting up wondrous environments whereby they are free to play and create. We intertwine the expressive arts, play and the environment to teach and engage the whole child. Our practice is engaging, child-centered and developmentally attuned to individual children. Creative “flow” and being in community lie at the heart of the deepest learning. We value the integrity and dignity of all children and we celebrate the diversity of world experiences they bring with them. Because our philosophy is child-centered, play-based and project/process oriented, we can develop emergent curriculum. Thus, our curriculum is ever changing and expanding with each new group of children in our care. We view learning as fun and the process as an exciting, wondrous adventure.
Many early childhood educators across the globe recognize and agree that children come to school already endowed with fluency in many languages. The arts languages are among these. They inform and support one another in a myriad of ways. For this reason, the arts should be integrated as much as possible, rather than kept as domains separate of one another. Children can use these languages to make important connections in thinking about the world and in making meaning.
There is great value in beginning children in early play school environments whereby they can grow over several years. This helps them to develop trust and understanding within the context of a group dynamic. We aim to work with a small group of the same children over a length of at least one year to potentially two years. Relationships given time to grow and blossom help children to feel safer at taking risks and expressing themselves as they learn new things. Over a longer period of time, our teachers can build a deeper understanding of who each child is, really understand how they have grown and assist in their further development. Our playgroup is designed to assist more than learning, but also for the development of long-lasting relationships. We hope children who join our group will find a sense of belonging with his/her teachers and friends here for many years to come.
Story Tree Playgroup is a mixed-age environment admitting children between ages 2.5-4 and 3.5-5. Because children develop at different rates across disciplines, they do benefit greatly from engaging with children both older and younger than themselves. Older children are often able to help guide play and increase the level of vocabulary sophistication for younger children. Becoming leaders and teachers in their own right gives voice to children's own, developing ideas. Younger children often find older children to be engaging additions to the learning experience.
Environment is Key
The environment is also a teacher. Children are forming impressions in every moment. They are curious and awake to the mystery all around them. Therefor it is important that we help to create not just aesthetically beautiful environments that are malleable and stimulating, but that we allow children the opportunity to take part in its redesign. We spend time talking with children about changing and manipulating the environment to serve their creativity and play experiences.
Time and Pacing
Children need to have opportunities to stretch their minds in their own time. It is imperative that we understand that children develop at different rates and also need space to play out their ideas. We do not believe in rushing children, but in following the ebb and flow of their own, personal learning trajectories. We give children permission to take their time, to experiment freely with a wide range of materials, to sit with their mistakes, make alterations to them and to make discoveries. The hours seem to wiz by anyway! We are always amazed at what children articulate and what they can accomplish!