The Edlavitch DCJCC Preschool is proud of our commitment to a child-centered, emergent curriculum that promotes a collaborative learning environment. Our curriculum is inspired by several principles of the Reggio-Emilia inspired approach, including the following core concepts:
At the very core of our approach is the concept of wonder. Wonder is the act that begins the process of learning. Our teachers view children as natural scientists, driven by curiosity, with tremendous observational skills and an ability to form strong theories about the world around them. Children’s questions and interests become the foundation for learning experiences. Collaborative wonder and the sharing of ideas plant the seeds for the class curriculum.
When children share their wonder with other children, their parents, and their teachers, they engage in a richer and deeper learning process. Collaboration increases the children’s commitment to the topic and multiplies the learning opportunities by encompassing many points of view.
Children in a Reggio-inspired school learn there are multiple ways to express an idea— whether it be visual, verbal, written or through movement and music. Through the use of multiple mediums, children develop expressive competence. Teachers view children’s creative expression in all forms as their way of communicating what they understand about the world around them.
Throughout the learning process, teachers document the children’s experience through photographs, note-taking, video, and artifacts that the children make themselves. It is compiled and shared with the focus on process, rather than product.
Child-Centered Learning In Action
In a child-centered curriculum, learning begins with student interest. In our Susim (Horses) class for 4-5 year olds, teachers observed the children in the Susim class using match box cars in many ways during Intentional Play, including sorting and comparing the cars, making the cars race and do tricks, and building ramps and garages.
This led to an exploration around the themes of How Do Cars Work and What Makes Them Fast? Here are some highlights:
When a friend mentioned that her car was getting dirty, the children had the idea to build a car wash using cardboard, pipe cleaners, and other classroom materials. Through this fun construction project, the Susim practiced fine motor skills, logic, writing, counting, spatial awareness, and communication and planning skills.
The carwash project sparked interest in more construction, so with teacher encouragement, small groups of friends began to design their own vehicles. After trying one prototype, G suggested that rubber bands were not providing enough “power”. Using library books about cars, the class did research about what powers cars and learned that Tesla makes electric cars. The children then decided to ride the city bus to the Tesla Showroom on H Street to find out more.
The children returned from the field trip with lots of new ideas. Back in the classroom, children worked in groups to create their own cars, using tools and a variety of materials.
Exploring what made the children so interested in cars, the teachers discovered a common theme – speed! The class began discussing the concept of speed and how to make things go fast.
At Morning Meeting, they performed a series of experiments on two identical cars, using variables like heavy rocks, sticks, and different strength pushes, to see what would make a car go down a ramp faster,. They worked on making smart guesses, or hypotheses, about what would happen under each condition, and then recorded their observations. The class concluded that many factors affect a toy car’s speed, including the height of the ramp, the shape and weight of the car, and the force pushing the car.
The exploration culminated with the Susim Races, for an invited audience of family and friends. Teams created their own cars and raced them down a variety of ramps and raceways, while learning about engineering, measurement, descriptive language, line recognition, and good sportsmanship.
How Do Cars Work and What Makes Them Fast?
Click on any picture below to learn more about what happened at each stage of the exploration.
Photo Credits: Kimberly Goldwein Photography