HOW WE TEACH

We support a child’s natural curiosity and joy of discovery by creating a nurturing learning environment where children feel comfortable exploring and making sense of the world around them. Using open-ended materials such as blocks, paint, and sand, our children delight in putting their ideas into action. Our play-based curriculum also serves to address the emotional, social, cognitive, and physical needs of the child.

Our low child-teacher ratio gives each child the opportunity to develop warm and trusting relationships with his or her teachers. Our experienced teachers are sensitive to the developmental issues of young children and to their needs within a group setting. They provide children the individual attention needed to make a secure and healthy separation from home and allow them to progress in accord with their own developmental pace, learning style, and temperament.

Our goal is to help each child develop a sense of him or herself as a competent and confident person, someone whose feelings, capacities, and interests are validated, respected, and encouraged to grow. A useful and effective approach in guiding the children is modeling. This is an important tool that reflects the behavior and respect that we aim to pass on to the children in a natural and meaningful way. By demonstrating essential behaviors, for example saying “I don’t like when you…” and “I feel upset because…,” we help children learn through observation.

Children also learn through developmentally appropriate play-based activities. Through sand and water exploration, art experiences, manipulative materials, block building and dramatic play, we provide children with opportunities to learn concepts and master skills. Throughout the day and across the curriculum our teachers guide children towards creative learning and introduce them to ideas that reflect their developmental needs and specific interests. We help them develop a positive self-concept as confident, competent, and thoughtful individuals who respect themselves and others in their community.

 

Our approach

Our goal is for all our students to leave the Collective joyful and empowered, confident and prepared for their next steps in life. This coincides with the seven specific skills that Ellen Galinsky (President and Co-Founder of the Families and Work Institute) feels engender lifelong learning:

focus and self-control;

perspective-taking;

communicating;

making connections;

critical thinking;

taking on challenges;

self-directed, engaged learning.

We believe that all children are competent human beings ready to be challenged. We are committed to working in depth with each child to ensure that these skills are consistently evolving.

 

What it looks like

A pair of children makes a rocket ship out of blocks and takes turns looking for aliens through their homemade telescope.

A group of children sits on the rug in their classroom. They count how many large beads they add to their shoestring, then comment on how heavy their strings are getting, saying, “Isn’t it getting heavier and heavier?”

With scrap paper from the classroom, children learn how to make new sheets of paper using a blender and mesh screens.

A child who loves games is taught how to play a card game called BLINK in which she has to distinguish between color, number, and shape while figuring out which card to play.

After snack, the children clean up their own places, walk over to the bookshelf, independently choose a book, and then browse through the pages until all children are finished and on the rug looking at books.

A 3-year-old makes a self-portrait by looking in a mirror then choosing different colored crayons for drawing her eyes, mouth, hair, and skin.

A child who loves to scribble, draw, and write is given a blank book to compose and illustrate his very own story.

A class of children walks to a local market where their teachers show them the huge selection of pumpkins, ranging in size from the enormous to the very tiny. Together they buy some small pumpkins and bring them back to their classroom to paint and decorate.

A child who touches a friend on the face while waiting to wash hands hears “I don’t like it when you touch my face” from the friend, and a teacher helps the two children talk through the situation.

In the dramatic play area, a 2-year-old places a pot in the pretend oven to make dinner for his babies.

At circle time the classes of 3- and 4-year-olds figure out how many children came to school that day by counting the children sitting together on the rug.

A class of children takes a walk around the block collecting leaves. After nap the children make a giant leaf collage together by arranging and placing their collected leaves on a long sheet of contact paper while observing the different colors and shapes of the leaves.