We believe that children learn best when they feel valued and respected, and when they are motivated and passionate about what they are doing. Listening carefully to children and observing their interactions with each other and their environment helps us to learn about what interests them. Based on observation and an understanding of child development, we guide children to investigate and express their ideas and theories about the world. (For examples of in-depth investigations click on the Documentation tab).
The basis of these investigations is the collaborative process, as children work together in small groups to make discoveries or achieve a common purpose. This process helps them develop critical skills such as problem-solving, perseverance, expressing oneself and listening to others. Teachers place a strong emphasis on the social learning that takes place in the classroom. At all ages, we encourage children to become aware of how their actions and words affect the people around them, and help them learn how to support and respect one another.
Since 1999, we have been studying the innovative preschool programs in the cities of Reggio Emilia and Pistoia, Italy. Their philosophy emphasizes children's competency and ability to construct their own knowledge through in-depth investigation and research.
One aspect of this approach that we are focusing on is the documentation of our work in the classroom. Through words, photographs and video, teachers interpret and reflect on children's learning experiences. Documentation enables parents to learn about their children's work and to feel connected to what is happening in the classroom. It allows teachers to articulate their thinking about children's ongoing investigations, and to determine future directions for them. It helps children to remember their ideas and shared experiences, and to know that these are valued.