Concord Child Care Center practices a constructivist approach to child development and learning. We believe that children generate knowledge and meaning from interactions between their experiences and their ideas. We call this play-based learning where children’s interests are supported throughout the curriculum, daily routine, and environment. We believe that children learn by doing; active participation, not simply memorizing and repeating, is essential to understanding. Active play helps children learn critical thinking and problem solving. Through play they also have opportunities to look at things from someone else’s perspective and learn social skills necessary for later success in school. Hands-on, interactive learning also promotes early literacy, mathematical thinking, and language development.
Highly educated teachers take a critical role in our program. Teachers serve as facilitators for learning, providing active content and coaching children through a process of inquiry and discovery. Teachers know how to respond to, guide, and extend children’s play to increase learning—and how to assess development by observing children’s play. Children should be encouraged not to simply find out whybut to learn how to find out why. The teacher’s role is to observe, reflect, evaluate and plan based on children’s needs and interests. Goals for children’s learning are created based on these assessments and open-ended activities are offered to challenge the children to the next level of individual development. At CCCC there are no tests for children, instead we practice ongoing assessment of learning through these daily observations and reflections.
By grounding learning activities in an authentic, real-world context our curriculum philosophy stimulates and engages students. Students in our classrooms learn to question things and to apply their natural curiosity to the world. Learning centers offer self-directed activities with age-appropriate tools and materials including such items as sorting trays and found items for sorting, scissors and magazines, writing and drawing materials, building and manipulating materials. Picture books and posters for inspiration are offered as well. Materials are real and relevant to the child, for example items from the child’s home culture can be found in the dress-up and housekeeping area, block area, and even large motor area. The children are involved in setting the rules and guidelines for behavior. The core academics of early education are integrated into the daily routines and activities in meaningful ways.
Our approach to learning is based on individualized needs and addresses many learning styles. We believe that every child has a right to a high quality education experience such that we can offer and readily make adaptions and accommodations to fit the changing needs of every child. Inclusion of all abilities is respected in CCCC program philosophy. Individual accommodations may be made to provide ease of access for differing abilities. Adults promote belonging, participation, and engagement among children of all levels of abilities. Support is provided for inclusion practices including access to services and partnership with families and specialists in providing developmentally appropriate activities.
We value the family as the first teacher of children and encourage parent involvement and regular participation in our program. We encourage parents to join in our planning process and to share their cultures in our classrooms so that each child is made to feel welcome and comfortable in familiar surroundings and customs. Just as children have differing learning abilities, families enrich our programs with their distinct values and experiences. Families are also a vital part our management system; their needs, opinions and advice are all taken into consideration when making programmatic decisions via discussion at parent meetings and family surveys.
Theory and Practice
The nature of early childhood development lends itself well to a Dewey-based classroom (Dewey, 1997). Vygotsky’s vision of social-cognitive development and Bruner’s constructivist concepts support a holistic approach to educating our young children (Woolfolk, 2010). David Sousa (2011) puts it most clearly, “Students are more likely to learn thinking skills in classrooms where teachers nurture a love for learning and establish a setting that is conducive to creative and critical thought.”