Children learn in an environment which motivates them to want to learn. This happens when they are allowed the greatest control over their own activities. Curriculum is all that happens to the child while s/he is at the school every moment of the day, and it is generated from all people — staff, students, parents, and peers. The major commitment is to helping children learn.
Therefore, the educational philosophy of the program is an approach to working with young children that requires the adult to pay attention to two pieces of information: (1) what we know about how children develop and learn; and (2) what we learn about individual needs and interests of each child in the group. However, age appropriate practice must not be overemphasized. Instead, the program must adapt to individual diversity of all kinds.
Lev Vygotsky has provided us with a fresh perspective that emphasizes the vital connection between social relationships and learning. His theory underscores the importance of adult-child and child-child communication in social and cognitive development. Teachers and parents — and the contexts they create — are seen as the primary means of fostering children’s development. In a Vygotskian framework, children are capable of far more competent performance when they have proper assistance from adults.
It is our goal at the Garfield Child Development Center is to work together with parents and families to deeply support and nurture the development of each child. The more we understand about the circumstances and experiences that are impacting each child, the more fully we can meet that child’s individual and unique needs. Some of the ways we attempt to meet each child’s needs are:
1. Acceptance of children and families as they are, valuing their uniqueness and diversity.
2. Nurturing and supporting children through physical contact and provision of positive verbal reinforcement and facilitation of children’s self-understanding through provision of accurate, non-judgmental feedback on their behavior.
3. Maintenance of a secure environment through provision of clear, consistent limits for behavior and by clear, accurate explanations of behavior and events.
4. Encouragement for children to develop self-sufficiency through taking responsibility for themselves, their actions, and their environment.
5. Encouragement of clear communication, verbal expression of feelings, sensitivity to other’s needs and attunement to one’s own needs.
6. Assisting children to perceive their world holistically, recognizing the connection and interdependence among all things, valuing uniqueness and diversity.
7. Providing a stimulating environment, within which the child will grow intellectually, socially, physically, emotionally, morally, and creatively with an emphasis on self- worth.