Child-Centered Learning

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:

Children are competent, curious, and creative

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.

Essential learning takes place within a system of relationships

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 express themselves through many languages

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.

Documentation allows children and adults to remember and reflect on learning experiences

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. Explore the examples below to see how we put our pedagogical philosophy into practice.

4-Year-Old Class Exploration

Cars, and What Makes Them Fast (Fall 2018)

In our Susim (Horses) class for 4-and 5-year-olds, teachers observed the children 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:

3-Year-Old Class Exploration

Rescue Vehicles (Fall 2019)

In our Peelim (Elephants) class for 3-year-olds, the teachers noticed during Intentional Play that the children often lined up chairs to create a large vehicle, and then drove that vehicle off on a rescue adventure.  Soon the children began to assign themselves distinct roles and created a consistent series of events to their emergency adventures: discovering the problem, calling for help, help arriving, solving the problem (usually by putting out the fire), and going back to the station.

This interest led to a multi-week class exploration of fire trucks and rescue vehicles that included imaginative play, fine motor skills practice, shape and color sorting, letter and number identification, research, categorization practice, applications to the children’s lives, field trip fun and a culminating event for our wider community.