Teachers plan curriculum to meet the individual needs of the children enrolled and respect the culture of every child. All aspects of our indoor/outdoor curriculum including the aesthetics of each classroom environment, selection of materials, choice of activities/projects and child interactions are carefully chosen to respect children’s sense of wonder, encourage them to interact and explore at their own pace and support their play.
In our Infant-Toddler Program, we formed a partnership and aligned our practice with that of the nationally recognized West ED Program for Infant Toddler Care (PITC). PITC is a relationship-based curriculum that recognizes the importance of a close and trusting parent-teacher partnership. Teachers explore ways to get “in tune” with each child and recognize what he needs, thinks and feels. As relationships develop and deepen through these connections and an understanding of cues, teachers adapt the environment for appropriate challenges to optimize growth and development. Frequent dialogue with parents supports teachers’ observations and enhances a child’s learning process.
In our Preschool Program, we adhere to NAEYC’s play-based curriculum where teachers actively listen and observe children to support their curiosity and creativity, express their feelings and thrive as part of a loving community. Through use of emergent curriculum, teachers extend children’s thinking by providing multiple opportunities for them to express, revisit, construct and reconstruct their ideas, feelings and understandings. The result is a classroom, yard and Studio bursting with work initiated by children and extended over time in support of their learning. In addition to children’s work, teachers design their classrooms to offer children ample opportunities to engage in dramatic play, listen to and tell stories, sing, explore nature, run and climb, and share meals together.
To meet the needs of children and build self-esteem, our goals are to provide an environment that encourages children to:
- Grow in all 5 areas: social, emotional, cognitive, physical, and language.
- Develop a positive sense of self.
- Be aware of, express and accept one’s feelings in an atmosphere of trust.
- Listen to others’ feelings.
- Be open to new experiences and willing to take risks.
- Follow-through with meaningful plans and see the results of their actions.
- Develop problem-solving and decision-making skills.
- Gain a knowledge of and respect for the natural world.
- Accept and enjoy diversity.
- Participate in self-care with increasing independence.
To meet the needs of families and build high self-esteem, our goals are to:
- Support their relationship with their child.
- Provide opportunities to increase their understanding of their child.
- Provide opportunities for them to participate in the program.
- Provide flexibility in scheduling in order to support their student class schedules.
- Provide opportunities for parents to meet and discuss program policies and issues.
- Trust in their ability to resolve parenting issues and offer workshops as requested.
- Recognize that parents are doing the best job they can on any given day.
To support teacher learning and reflection, our goals are to:
- Develop a greater understanding of young children.
- Foster problem-solving among and with children and adults.
- Interact with children in an authentic manner.
- Facilitate learning opportunities that are relevant to children.
- Develop effective communication skills and the ability to work as a team.
- Gain knowledge of professional practices and ethics in the field of ECE.
Each classroom has a full-time Head Teacher who is a professional early childhood educator dedicated to the growth and development of young children and families. Head Teachers are responsible for the classroom curriculum and environment, child assessments, parent communication, and the supervision of teacher assistants, volunteers and interns. Some Head Teachers participate in local early childhood organizations as part of our community outreach.
Each classroom is also staffed with part-time teacher assistants. As an ASI subsidized program, we provide SF State students with campus employment on a semester-by-semester basis. Teacher assistants with child development and/or early childhood units receive priority hiring. Although we strive to maintain caregiver continuity each semester, we can’t guarantee who will return or in which classroom a teacher assistant will work. In addition, when a teacher assistant graduates, she is no longer eligible to work at the Center unless she has at least 6 ECE units and can commit to a 5-day work schedule.
Since 2006, the teachers and administrators have been studying the Reggio Emilia philosophy and the Project Approach to learning. Through our readings, observations, discussions and reflection, we have altered and deepened our practices, particularly the incorporation of more authentic projects and the aesthetics of our environments. Documentation in the forms of observation of children and extensive record-keeping has long been encouraged and practiced in our program.
However, documentation in Reggio Emilia focuses more intensively on children’s experience, memories, thoughts and ideas in the course of their work. Documentation in Reggio-inspired programs provides inspiring examples of the importance of displaying children’s work with great care and attention to both highlight the content of the work and to make children’s learning more visible.
The Studio is intended and envisioned as a natural and reciprocal adjunct to the work that is already happening in our infant, toddler, twos and preschool indoor and outdoor classrooms. While many of the experiences taking place in the studio at first glance might look like art activities, this space is more than a place to make art. The Studio is instead a space that is part laboratory, part “think tank,” part repository of wondrous possibilities and part training ground for future artists, inventors and creative thinkers alike. The Studio is:
- A place where children can make their ideas about the world come to fruition with guidance and encouragement from teachers.
- A place where children can learn to appreciate and handle real tools and materials.
- A place where children’s aesthetic sensibilities are raised and fostered, their spirits are nourished and a lively sense of wonder is nurtured.
- A place to grow creative thinkers who can think their way out of a box and have confidence in their ideas and skills.
Once a year, you will be asked to complete an assessment of your child’s program to determine if the service we are providing is meeting your needs. The administrators and Head Teachers review your ideas and determine what appropriate action to take. You will receive a summary of the information collected and told of any changes being considered for Center policies and procedures.
Assessors from the University’s Gateway to Quality Program who utilize the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scales (ECERS/ITERS), a nationally recognized assessment tool, evaluate the Center’s classrooms every three years. The Center was also accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) in 1995, and validators revisit the Center every 5 years.
All teachers adhere to NAEYC’s best practice when assessing children. They incorporate a variety of methods to keep track of each child’s developmental growth such as checklists, journals, photographs, dictation and portfolios. The “work” of young children centers on process and exploration, and children do not often create products on their own. Therefore, the assessment of a child relies heavily on the teacher’s observation skills. Written anecdotes in journals and portfolio items are “word pictures” of your child’s participation in classroom activities. They capture a moment in the child’s classroom experience. Progress is demonstrated through documentation of the same areas of learning over time.
Parent-teacher conferences include a written assessment of the child’s development and are held twice a year.