How does Green Sprouts incorporate different philosophies into the daily care of the children?

 

Waldorf - natural and wholesome menu, wooden toys, breathing in and breathing out activities, calm environment, seasonal celebrations, set up resembles a home and learning through imitation.

Reggio - the environment acts as a third teacher, documentation through pictures, open-ended play materials, same child care provider from infancy to school-age for consistency (no pressure to form new relationships) and an abundance of natural light in play spaces.

Montessori - structured environment, toy storage (everything has a place), learning self help skills, uncluttered play spaces and mixed age group setting.


Philosophy of Design


Torelli and Durrett believed that group care should provide children with beautiful environments that support child-directed, child-initiated, and teacher-facilitated play. Caregivers also deserve highly functional, easy-to-use and aesthetically attractive work environments.

Research has shown that the physical environment in which children play and learn has a significant effect on their behaviour and development.

In poor-quality environments, children tend to engage in more unfocused play, aimless wandering, and aggressive behaviour. Teachers spend more time managing children and functioning as a custodial caregiver; constantly redirecting children from unsafe or aggressive behaviour.

In well-designed classrooms, children engage in more extended, focused play and have more positive interactions with their peers. This allows teachers to concentrate on their relationship with each child and to function in a caring, facilitative role.

When teachers work in such a setting, their job is less stressful because the classroom is working for them, not against them. Individual and group needs can be met, child-directed exploration is supported.


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Child and Family-Centered Care


With a program that believes in child and family-centered care, I offer a home environment where the real needs and interests of each child and family are met. Parents are the primary caregivers, and your wishes are respected without judgment. Rather than adhering to strict schedules and rules, I respond to what is happening at a particular moment. Children are not interrupted in the middle of their play to move on to the next activity, nor are they interrupted in the middle of a sleep to get ready for snack. Activities are optional, and if a child would prefer to have the kitchen centre to their self during story time or when others might be colouring, then I do not insist that they join. Their personal schedules are respected, and an attempt is made to make their routines pleasant. Each child is at a different level developmentally, and they each come from different family backgrounds and values. I respect the way parents are raising their children, and I try to support that as much as possible, while giving the children as much care and attention as I can.


When you first walk in you will not see those curriculum "cues" that are so visible in other child care programs. There are no pre-fabricated borders on bulletin boards, no giant board saying, "Our topic this week is the Ocean and the letter O". I do not use any ready-made, prescribed curriculum, but rather draw from a rich blend of various curriculum approaches. My curriculum has been growing and evolving over the years and, I trust, getting better.


Emergent Curriculum 


In the past, early childhood programs have been planned around themes that become the focus of songs, games, art activities, and displays in the classroom. With Emergent Curriculum, the themes and learning opportunities come from everyday experiences. Each experience is an opportunity to learn and expand the children's knowledge. The teacher takes opportunities to observe the children, noting their interests. Then, she chooses activities that will expand on those interests. Songs, games, and stories often happen spontaneously, when the mood hits. A curriculum that is full of learning is possible by taking advantage of each interaction and each routine, and by allowing enough time for the child to play, to practice skills, to build friendships, to concentrate on their interests and questions.


A very natural extension of an integrated curriculum is one that is emergent, one that quite literally emerges from the children themselves and is supported and extended as far as possible by the adults. It might last a day or several months. It is driven by the interests, enthusiasms, excitements, information, and questions that children bring to me. I try to seize the moment of a child's excitement and fuel it in whatever way I can. 


It is a powerful thing for a child to spark an idea and immediately have adults respond by gathering books from the library and home, develop art projects and activities, learn new songs, and listen to new music, go on a spontaneous field trip, etc. It means a tremendous amount of added work, because out of the blue you are stopping to gather ideas, plan field trips, go to the library, collect materials for related projects, etc. It is, however, extremely rewarding and well worth the effort to experience the children's excitement. 

Here are a couple illustrations of how different veins of emergent curriculum have unfolded...

Where a child is less verbal, curriculum interests are frequently determined by wide-eyed expressions and gasps of joy.  Children love cars and trucks. Some of the children would shout "Truck!" and make the appropriate noise for the kind they see. I noticed this and pulled out some books about trucks and cars - varieties of kinds, size, and colours. We ran vehicles through playdough for a sensory experience, made truck noises, sang songs about vehicles, and spent lots of time looking out the window, noticing and naming the different kinds that drive by everyday. They built roads with small blocks and big blocks. Sometimes toy vehicles were used on the roads and sometimes the children themselves were the vehicles moving on the roads.

    A couple of the older children began role playing firefighters. As they were playing, it didn't matter that the little ones didn't have as much language - the language of play took over. One of the older children was the fire chief and gave the commands as the rest of the children did their best to follow through and put out the fire. They replayed the scene over and over. The interest in trucks then became the base for us to explore their interest in firefighters. We got out the fire-fighter props in dramatic play, and pretended cardboard tubes were hoses in the house. 

What is emergent curriculum?

Emergent curriculum describes the kind of curriculum that develops when exploring what is "socially relevant, intellectually engaging, and personally meaningful to children" the basic idea is that organic, whole learning evolves from the interaction of the classroom participants, both children and adults." As caring adults, we make choices for children that reflect our values; at the same time we need to keep our plans open-ended and responsive to children" (Jones and Nimmo, 1994, p3). In emergent curriculum, both adults and children have initiative and make decisions. This power to impact curriculum decisions and directions means that sometimes curriculum is also negotiated, between what interests children and 

what adults know is necessary for children's education and development. 

        

Emergent curriculum is never built on children's interests alone, teachers and parents also have interests worth bringing into the curriculum. The values and concerns of all the adults involved help the classroom culture evolve. The curriculum is called emergent because it evolves, diverging along new paths as choices and connections are made, and it is always open to new possibilities that were not thought of during the initial planning process. 


Emergent curriculum arises naturally from adult-child interactions and situations that allow for "teachable moments." It connects learning with experience and prior learning. It includes all interests of children and responds to their interests rather than focusing on a narrow, individual, or calendar driven topic. It is a process rather than being product driven.