- Our Philosophy
- What is The Reggio Emilia Approach?
- Theoretical Background
- Core Principals
- What is an Emergent Curriculum
- Power of Play
The school gleans inspiration from the Reggio Emilia approach, Jewish values and traditions, progressive education and the Sephardic Jewish community, and most importantly, the children. Early childhood development is a process that is continually changing and expanding. It is important to offer both structured and unstructured activities to children. We believe that children learn through play and meaningful reciprocal relationships. As such, we strive toward structuring the environment to reflect that belief. Faculty are encouraged to be flexible and to allow the children freedom to learn at their own pace. All activities are steps toward growing and developing physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively. Children are given ample opportunity to experience activities that promote cognitive problem solving and experience social emotional growth opportunities. All activities are designed to support children as they form a positive self-image within the framework of Torah and Misvot.
Our educational philosophy is rooted in the principles of Sephardic customs, Torah and Jewish values paired with a constructivist early childhood education. The emergent curriculum weaves Jewish tradition, a love for Torah and Hashem, and a deep connection to Eres Yisrael into the fabric of its curriculum in order to highlight values such as generosity, gratitude, hesed, respect for one another, respect for the environment and kindness. These values are explored through day-to-day activities and honored through celebrations and holidays.
What is the Reggio Emilia Approach?
Our ECC, a Reggio inspired program, has chosen to model our program and methodology on the concepts promoted through the Reggio Emilia educational approach. The approach embraces the work and beliefs of well-known theorists John Dewey, Lev Vygotsky and Jean Piaget. Teachers and children work collaboratively to co-construct a curriculum that emerges from the children’s interests. Exploration, play and open-ended questions provide a wholesome environment for deeper learning.
Dewey believed that all learning is active and constructive, learning is collaborative, and that children and adults are co-constructors of learning.
Vygotsky emphasized that social experiences help to co-construct an understanding of the role the child has in the world. The adult’s role is to scaffold the child’s learning by recognizing when a child is emotionally and developmentally ready to be challenged to stretch skills and abilities. Our program believes that children are capable learners who can develop ideas to problems and seek out information on their own. We respect that children have the right to try, yet adults are available to extend a helping hand when the child indicates this need. This does not mean adults ‘fix it’ or ‘do it’ for the child, but rather assist the child, through encouragement and supportive interactions with discovering his own abilities.
Piaget highlights the development of thinking in individuals and places value on exchanging different points of view though discussion and sharing. Our program encourages discussions and conversations are promoted by the teachers, as facilitators. Children learn to respect other points of view and gain an understanding of new possibilities.
The educators from Reggio Emilia, Italy, have developed an influential and widely practiced educational philosophy that emphasizes children’s capabilities and inquisitiveness through in-depth investigation. It emphasizes five core principles:
The Image of the Child: Children are strong, rich and capable learners who have their own set of competencies. We no longer view the child as a vessel to be filled with facts and knowledge. Teaching is not adult directed, rather, it is rooted in the concept that through social interaction with peers, children teach one another and model new ways of learning about the world. There is an emphasis on work in small groups in order to facilitate genuine collaboration.
The Role of the Teacher: Teachers are viewed as observers and facilitators that engage in ongoing documentation and are intentional teachers where they create an environment that lends to growth and supporting children’s individual needs. Teachers become researchers of knowledge alongside the children. Information is not imposed but rather discovered through mutual experiences.
Environment as the ‘Third’ Teacher: Classroom materials are carefully chosen by teachers based on children’s interest and development. By altering the environment, teachers provide new explorations for children to better support their learning. Each item in the learning space has a purpose and potential in engaging a learner. Our classrooms offer a myriad of opportunities for self-expression, creative thinking, problem solving and deeper learning.
Community of Learners: Understanding of children’s learning is also rooted in the acceptance of their past experience, culture and tradition. Families are a child’s first teacher. Communities and families are interactive and inter-supportive. We have the responsibility to develop an understanding and knowledge of the child’s experience and deepen their connection to their family, Sephardic community and Jewish roots.
Curriculum Content, Flow and Provocations: The curriculum is child-centered, play-based, developmentally appropriate and emerges from the needs and interests of the children. Curriculum goals are rooted in developmental milestones, emphasizing the major domains of development- cognitive, social-emotional, physical and language.
What is an Emergent Curriculum
We believe that children are active learners with a natural curiosity to explore and discover how the world around them functions and what their role is within this world. The teacher’s role is to support the child’s learning style while guiding and facilitating this learning through meaningful, concrete, reciprocal play experiences in the context of the child’s development.
Emergent curriculum develops from what is personally meaningful to children. It arises from adult-child interactions that allow for ‘teachable moments.’ It connects learning with experience and prior learning. It includes all interests of children and responds to their interests rather than focusing on a narrow, individual, or calendar driven topic. It is process rather than product driven.
Power of Play
An emergent curriculum also requires its teachers to have trust in the power of play. Children’s play, supported by caring, reflective and responsive adults will enhance a child’s natural curiosity, allowing for experiences that will contribute to and advance knowledge and understanding of the world. By providing a child with periods of uninterrupted play, with supportive interactive adults, we create the opportunity for a child to develop an understanding of the steps involved in critical thinking and to hone in on the ability to become a creative thinker and problem solver. This fosters a lifelong commitment to discovery and continued learning.