Our program is influenced by the Reggio Approach and its teachings, which stem from the community of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and the research of Loris Malaguzzi. Jean Piaget’s research on child development and Magda Gerber’s belief in respecting the infant/toddler also inform our curriculum.
Our emergent and constructive curriculum approach is designed to impact the whole child. Through both child-led and teacher-led activities we ensure that we are supporting all domains of development: cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual.
All activities are intended to promote each child’s ability to think and reason. Activity centers and provocations help with decision making, creating one’s own opinions, contemplating possibilities, and becoming aware of one’s boundaries. Through exploration we aim to support and encourage critical thinking skills. Furthermore, our emergent curriculum, although it is not traditional, supports reading, writing, math, science, social science, and art. In their daily encounters with materials, children have ample opportunity to explore concepts such as shape, size, numbers, colors, and object relationships.
All children are provided with daily opportunities to build upon their gross and fine motor skills. This can include any activity that requires movement and/or hand-eye coordination, such as building with blocks, puzzles, drawing, dancing, yoga, running, climbing, and tumbling.
We believe that it is very important to encourage a respect for self in each child. Our classroom environment plays a huge role in this. We strive for each child to feel loved, accepted, and respected as an individual with strengths and interests, thus creating a positive self-image. Each child receives positive encouragement in his or her activities and projects. They are also given several opportunities to express their emotions through communications and art. All interactions between staff members and children are to reinforce a child’s emotional and social stability. Each child will receive appropriate physical contact and individual attention.
We strive as a staff to set a Godly example for children by modeling respect, honesty, passion, drive, obedience, imagination, and integrity. We strive to instill in each child the concept of a servant’s heart by introducing them to compassion and showing them how to help one another. Children have many opportunities to interact with their classmates and teachers in both group and one-on-one settings, which also helps teach empathy and compassion. We hope to broaden each child’s knowledge of Christ and show them how accepting and BIG he is. Although we do not have a chapel time at Discovery Zone, each class spends time praying and reading stories in the Bible. They will also be exposed to various kid-friendly Christian songs.
We refer to our environments as the “third teacher.” Each classroom is carefully designed to support each domain of development and develop curiosity and interest. A classroom is an active workshop that fosters relationships and values space for communication. We value aesthetics, organization, thoughtfulness, communication, and interaction in our classroom environments. A child’s work is not displayed simply for decoration but rather to show and document the competence of children, the beauty of their ideas, and the complexity of their learning processes.
Documentation and Observation
If you visit Discovery Zone, you will see documentation up on the walls of our classrooms and hallways. These pictures and work samples and pieces of art are displayed for several important reasons. They make the learning that is taking place visible to parents and families, and provide a way for teachers to evaluate their own work and assess children’s conceptual understanding and growth. Displaying children’s work also tells children that their ideas and creations are valuable.
Our program will use the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) as a developmental screening for each child. An ASQ will be conducted with each child within the first 45 days of entering the program. Thereafter, an ASQ will be conducted two times each year, once in the fall and once in the spring. The results will be shared with the parents or guardians and kept in the child’s file. If indicated by the ASQ, we will refer a child for specialized assessment.
We are committed to engaging with our community in a variety of ways. We share our classrooms and facilities with our church community. We take field trips to connect with organizations and places within our McMinnville, Yamhill County, and Oregon communities. We invite others to come into our school community and share their knowledge and experiences with us. This strong sense of community supports and encourages each child’s sense of self and sense of belonging. Community is a vital part of our curriculum.