Description: The mission of DELC is to support the essential nurturing and guidance that is critical to healthy growth and development of young children by offering a rich home-familiar learning environment where children's curiosity and hunger for learning are promoted through play, discovery and the arts. Our programs are designed to help children build positive self-images, develop competence and positive dispositions toward learning and school, and to learn basic skills of social living. The work we do at DELC is intimately related in aim, in method, and in materials used to fundamental assumptions about how, what, and why children learn. Our constructivist approach is child centered, hands-on and humanistic and is aimed at the harmonious development of the whole child in all areas. It is meant to reflect a variety of developmental levels among children taking into account their many individual characteristics and special qualities. Our emphasis is on helping children discover and work towards their own style of learning, construct meanings, and use freedom in a carefully prepared environment.
Our philosophy of education has developed over the twenty years that we have been teaching young children. While we have integrated the ideas of many fine educators, we have been most inspired by the Reggio Emilia preschools in Italy whose aim is to "preserve the spell of the child unbroken." The basic components of Reggio Emilia include viewing the child as powerful rather than powerless; using an emergent curriculum that is based on the interests of children; engaging in projects that are not limited in time or scope; and documenting the child's progress with words and pictures.
While we design developmentally appropriate readiness activities for our children to explore, we recognize the educational value of children finding and solving self-defined problems that arise from child-initiated activity and choices. Through shared activity and social exchange children co-construct their knowledge of the world using one child's ideas to develop anothers or to explore a path yet unexplored. The teacher does not direct children's learning in lock step fashion, rather facilitates it through the selection of stimulating materials, the arrangement of the environment, and our day to day interactions with children. Our role as teachers is to set the stage for learning, to offer encouragement, and to gently guide the learning and development of the children in our care. We feel that what really matters in early childhood education is the spirit of the young child that needs to be nurtured, the reason he/she learns so well. As children become increasingly institutionalized, it helps to keep in mind that what happens to this spirit has far more consequences than any specific content in schooling. A program with this kind of focus sets the stage for positive attitudes about one's
self, about school, and learning is likely to produce children who feel that learning is enjoyable, meaningful, and rewarding.
It is our firm belief and guiding philosophy that children learn best through play, and that play is their very significant form of work. Play puts learning in a context and gives it a purpose. Through play children are given a chance to try out options, to make meaningful personal choices, to explore solutions to problems, and practice new skills without getting bored. Children need to play in an environment rich in resources, to explore, to test, and to learn from feedback on their own actions. We recognize the intrinsic worth of play and provide ample opportunity, time, and materials for this purpose.
Our schedule has a built in, yet flexible structure that alternates between periods of free play, small group activities and special projects, circle time, snack, story, music, movement, and outdoor play. We strive to create a balance between active and quiet times, and between self-selected and teacher-directed activities. Children are encouraged to express their feelings, to develop powers of concentration, to use their imaginations, to try new ideas, to develop a sense of independence and responsibility for one's decisions, and to accommodate other children's viewpoints.
In all of the children's daily activities emphasis is placed more on process rather than production. Teachers acting as partners rather than as sole imparters of knowledge, help children develop self esteem and visual awareness as well as strong social, problem-solving and communication skills. As fellow investigators, they help children explore and experiment in depth, and express their ideas not just in words, but in many visual forms that may be more understandable to them, such as drawing, painting, construction, and creative dramatics.
These goals are best achieved in an educational setting that offers security as
well as challenge. We strive to create a sense of community by supporting the
bond between parent and child by including parents in program planning, by
inviting parents to participate in as many activities as their schedules allow, by encouraging parents to participate as classroom volunteers, and by sharing our special knowledge of children in frequent and supportive conferences and group discussions. In addition to expanding our program offerings, such cooperative efforts by staff and parents enriches our center and reinforces a sense of community and an enriched family life.
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