Children's House
Orcas Island
Our Curriculum Philosophy

Guided by theories of John Dewey, Lev Vygotsky, Urie Bronfenbrenner, and Jean Piaget and current research, Children’s House early childhood education program provides children ages 1-6 meaningful play opportunities.

WHAT EARLY LEARNING LOOKS LIKE

Children are learning before they are even born.  In the womb, they learn to recognize their native language, the voice of their mother and even the theme song from their mother’s favorite television show.  From the food the mother eats to the stress she experiences, unborn babies are learning about what is promised outside the womb.  From birth on, babies make sense of their world through their senses (tasting, touching, smelling, seeing and hearing) and loving relationships with their parents and caregivers.

By age two children begin to notice the properties of the objects they explore but must engage actively in tasks to develop and learn. They seek and process new information and modify thinking in order to make sense of new experiences. Learning takes place through positive interactions between and among children and adults as the children interact in their physical environments.

Evidence shows children learn best when they interact in a rich environment with other people, supported by nurturing and observant teachers in partnership with their families. Early learning requires active thinking and experimentation to find out how things work and learn firsthand about the world we live in.

American philosopher and early childhood education theorist, John Dewey wrote, “Learning is in the hands.”   In using real materials, like blocks, for example, and by trying out their ideas, children learn about sizes, shapes and colors and they notice relationships between things. Children’s House provides hands-on learning experiences to encourage children to become lifelong, enthusiastic learners.

The Children’s House program works throughout the year to build your child’s development in these key areas: social-emotional, physical, cognitive, language, literacy and mathematics & science.

HOW OUR PRINCIPLES GUIDE PRACTICE       

At the core of our program are five fundamental principles which guide our teaching, environments and interactions with students and families at Children’s House. 

  • Positive interactions between adults inspire critical thinking and mutual trust;
  • Social emotional competence is significant to school success;
  • Constructive, purposeful play supports essential learning;
  • The physical environment affects the type and quality of interactions;
  • Teacher-family partnerships promote development and learning.           

To support us in these efforts, we use the most up to date materials from The Creative Curriculum.   The Creative Curriculum rests its understanding of child development on the work of renowned child development theorists John Dewey, Lev Vygotsky, Urie Bronfenbrenner and Jean Piaget.  These theories combined propose that young children learn or construct knowledge while at play in rich environments where social interaction and collaboration is encouraged and family partnerships are valued.   The Creative Curriculum combines these understandings of child development with the latest research making it a sound choice for families and educators.

HOW OUR CURRICULUM SUPPORTS CHILD DEVELOPMENT

An important goal of our early childhood program is to help children become enthusiastic learners. This means encouraging children to be active and creative explorers who are not afraid to plan, experiment, make mistakes and persevere. Our goal is to help children become independent, self-confident, inquisitive life-long learners. We are allowing them to learn at their own pace and in the ways that are best for them.  We model positive attitudes, particularly a positive sense of self, which will make a difference throughout their lives.

By designing classroom environments and intentional experiences which support purposeful play, we foster trust, autonomy, social competence, and encourage initiative.

Children learn best when they feel their world is safe, reliable and responsive. Through autonomy they learn to act with will and control. And through initiative, they respond positively to challenges, take on responsibilities, take pride in accomplishments and become purposeful.

There are compelling links between social-emotional development and school success and our teachers play a key role in helping children develop positive peer relationships.  Creative learning activities, such as dramatic play, block play and open-ended art activities provide opportunities for children to build positive relationships with peers.

In addition to being likened to self-regulation skills, studies show that purposeful and productive play is positively related to:

  • Memory development
  • Symbolic thinking
  • Positive approaches to learning
  • Positive social skills
  • Language and literacy skills
  • Math skills

Early learning requires active thinking and experimenting to find out how things work and learn firsthand about the world we live in. In using real materials, like blocks, for example, and by trying out their ideas, children learn about sizes, shapes and colors and they notice relationships between things.

We provide hands-on learning experiences through various interest areas; art, blocks, dramatic play, sand and water, music, literacy, science, and cooking. Students choose how to spend their time in interest areas by which they can gain social-emotional, physical, cognitive, language, literacy and mathematics skills in often overlapping ways.

Examples of how this might look like in the classroom:

  • While building with blocks children learn to observe, compare, and sort all while testing properties of their world
  • In the studio, important fine motor control and hand strength is developed while engrossed in creative and aesthetic experiences
  • Children learn to make rules, negotiate and use creative narratives while engaged in dramatic play
  • Literacy-enriched socio-dramatic play centers encourage children to help each other and effectively support collaborative literacy learning.
  • Manipulative centers help children explore mathematical concepts and construct literacy understandings.

THE ROLE OF TEACHERS, ENVIRONMENT AND FAMILY

The activities we plan for children, the way we organize the environment, select toys and materials, plan the daily schedule and interact with children are all designed to accomplish the goals of our curriculum and give your child a successful start in school.

By understanding the theory and research on how children’s knowledge, skills and behaviors progress, our teachers are able to support children’s development and learning and combine general knowledge with particular knowledge of each child and their family to implement experiences that promote individual growth.

In our classrooms, teachers observe carefully in order to plan engaging educational experiences that help students develop new skills and learn more about the world.  Using a technique known as “scaffolding” teachers use verbal instructions, physical assistance, probing questions to help students figure out how to approach learning, improve skills and acquire knowledge. Teachers observe children to understand their level of learning and find ways to extend their learning.

To ensure continuity and give meaning to what is learned at school our teachers become familiar with children’s everyday lives and encourage frequent family involvement and open communication between families and teachers.  We use daily contact, weekly newsletters, parent-teacher conferences, storyboards, and compile individual student portfolios to share data.  We host family events, potluck gatherings and volunteer opportunities to build meaningful relationships that support the whole child. We encourage parents to share in and communicate about their child’s development. Families are always welcome to participate in classroom activities.

We believe children learn best when they interact in a rich environment with other people. Through the responses they receive from others, children attach value and social meanings to their activities. They talk about their problems in order to solve them and talk about concepts in order to understand and apply them.

From the classroom to the playground our teachers are at times participants, observers, helpers and instructors.  


ORCAS ISLAND CHILDREN'S HOUSE
36 Pea Patch Lane | Eastsound, Washington 98245 | 360.376.4744
Orcas Island Children's House is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization, and all contributions are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

Content of this Web site © 2013 Orcas Island Children's House.