Curriculum content is determined by an approach described by the Constructivist philosophy.
We listen carefully for topics that appear to be piquing the interest of children in the class, we make careful observations of the children’s development. From these two sources, each classroom teaching team develops curriculum in which children practice gathering information from a number of sources, sources which will later translate into academic disciplines, and then invite the children to synthesize the information into theory.
Our classrooms base their curriculum on Developmentally Appropriate Practice, meaning that we continually assess each child’s level of development and provide opportunities to strengthen and challenge the child’s development. We are in no hurry to speed development up, but instead prefer to ensure that each stage is fully and robustly developed before the child moves on to the next stage. Constructivism means that our curriculum is built upon the interests and development of the children in the class rather than on a randomly selected topic.
Preschoolers synthesizing and hypothesizing
Preschoolers are active observers of the world; they are curious and anxious to make sense out of the many amazing questions that face them. The great difference between a preschooler and their older peers, however, is that they are still very concrete thinkers, so their hypotheses are often very limited. Never mind —in the preschool years, our goal is not to teach children facts and figures, but to capitalize on their innate curiosity and zest for life by helping them develop the thinking skills that set the stage for a fulfilling life.
We staff classrooms with team teachers rather than one teacher and an aide because we want children to experience healthy relationships and to ensure that children are in the care of devoted and capable people.
Children enrolled at Leelanau Children’s Center join a classroom that is team taught by two primary teachers and a support teacher. Each teacher becomes the primary teacher for a subset of the children enrolled in the class, thus assuring that the growth and development of each child is closely supported.
The child’s primary teacher:
observes and record indications of the child’s development
plans daily activities and experiences specific to the interest and skills of the child
serves as the primary advocate for the children in his/her group
leads the parent-teacher conferences
is the primary source of information specific to the development of the child.
We assume and expect that all of the teachers in each classroom will develop relationships with all of the children and parents, but it is important to us to know that someone is keeping a special eye on each child in our Center.