This is a private, unique program made possible by a professional curation of Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, Nature-Based Learning, California Common Core and NAEYC standards into a full-day program that preserves the standards of each educational philosophy for a group of peers with a low student to teacher ratio. Most importantly, I emphasize the loving connections of our family environment to provide nurturing and well-being for each child.
My teaching philosophy is, “One is not ideal for all, but all is ideal for one.”
Children are given more developmental opportunities here than any other school in the Bay Area due to implementation of this philosophy into an early childhood education setting. I am proud that our program is at the forefront of this movement to bring more learning diversity into early childhood education!
The below explanations, including some of our other programs, briefly show how we are able to achieve this:
For Montessori, I adhere to the mixed peer group, low teacher-to-student ratio, self-correcting lessons and materials, and time-periods (an hour to one and half hours for 3-5 years olds) of uninterrupted exploration, guiding only when prompted by the child or if they need help. Montessori materials and learning areas, along with facilitation, are also provided for in an outdoor “classroom” for nature-based learning. I have lesson materials approved by the American Montessori Association and have completed study and observation of Montessori teaching and learning through an NAEYC accredited college. For most children in our program’s age group, their “sensitive period” of learning focuses on: the refinement of movement, language, order, small objects / details, refinement of the senses, grace and courtesy, drawing and handling geometric shapes, writing, and reading. Please click here to see our DETAILS AND EXAMPLES OF MONTESSORI IN ACTION.
For Waldorf, there is a focus on the emotional and scientific connections between people and all things, with an emphasis on personal and social well-being during circle-time, academic periods, and free play. We teach respect for the diversity of spiritual and non-spiritual practices, but please note that this is a non-religious program. I include natural environments and objects to stimulate imagination and natural connection, so I do not have individual desks or a typical classroom setup or decor. Instead, I promote a home environment meant for social interaction and exploration. Natural lighting, plants, simple decor, and a selection of “plain” toys such as colorless/graphic free blocks and simple wooden toys is mixed in with mainstream toys (thus the hybrid distinction) to promote imaginative development. Also, a major emphasis is put on the creative process for all subjects and by dedicating a Monday through Friday Music and Theater period for music, song, dance/movement, and performance. Additionally, both June and July curriculum are specifically created with imagination and creativity as main objectives. Please click here to see our DETAILS AND EXAMPLES OF WALDORF IN ACTION.
For Reggio-Emilia, this pedagogy’s core concept is that children are already the “bearers” of all learning and should be allowed to discover it within themselves. This means that instead of “filling” them with knowledge, a facilitator provides curriculum and experiences that draw upon the children’s inherent intelligence (also referred to as “unpacking”). Lessons are inspired by the children’s interests that have been skillfully observed and recorded by me. Also, a high-value is placed upon cooperative and social learning, which can be done both in discussion and group projects. Expanding on peer collaboration is the vital role the parent and community plays in the education. Family and community (along with field trips and/or class visits) are encouraged to contribute to lessons and are shown how their partnership helps form the success of the student. The physical environment, like Waldorf, promotes natural light and nature inside through materials and plants. While adapting curriculum with this pedagogy throughout the week, I also reserve every Friday to have children initiate their own learning topics and methods of discovery. Please click here to see our DETAILS AND EXAMPLES OF REGGIO-EMILIA IN ACTION.
For Nature-Based Learning, monthly themes cover environmental science topics such as life-cycles (plants and animals), earth science, and astronomy in addition to individual lessons in other themes. Outside time, despite the weather (though children are dressed appropriately and safety prioritized), is provided multiple times daily with self-directed and play-based learning. A specially designed outdoor “classroom” of natural biome centers and nature areas provide fun exploration. Uninterrupted periods of discovery provide a Montessori/Waldorf/Reggio Emilia pedagogical foundation for many of the lessons. Gardening is done year-round, as is providing children with seasonal materials to explore and weekly themed materials, tools, and lessons. Please click here to see our DETAILS AND EXAMPLES OF NATURE-BASED LEARNING IN ACTION.
For California Common Core and NAEYC Standards: NAEYC is the National Association for the Education of Young Children, providing academic and professional resources and standards for the educational and social development of children up to age eight. Additionally, California Common Core has extensive standards and regulations for the care and education of young children. I incorporate practices by both through accredited education and professional development, including continuing education to keep up on educational, health, and social development research pertaining to ECE (early childhood education). I also adhere to the licensing and credential regulations of the state of California. To prepare children adequately for elementary school, I plan lessons for social behavior (self-regulation, sharing, turn-taking, circle-time, etc.) and academic skills: correct pencil holding, cutting/pasting, drawing, writing and reading letters and numbers, and understanding the concepts of basic subjects like math, science, art, writing, and social studies. Please click here to see our DETAILS AND EXAMPLES OF CALIFORNIA COMMON CORE AND NAEYC STANDARDS IN ACTION.
For my own pedagogical techniques, I strongly believe in learning themes to connect and reenforce multiple subject lessons. I have an overall theme each month that the curriculum is based on except for Fridays, when children lead the learning topics (via Reggio Emilia and Montessori). The gentle repetition and variety of lessons by core themes helps provide an interdisciplinary and holistic foundation for understanding by the child. This also helps develop their education as it relates to their everyday life, which offers immediate applications and understanding of lessons. Circle Time, Math and Science (STEM), Arts and Crafts, and Music and Theater all have corresponding lessons that reenforce each other and use the model of Bloom’s Taxonomy for developmental objectives (knowledge acquisition and then analytical creation at age/maturation appropriate levels). For optimal learning, I keep lessons short (no longer than 25 minutes) and designed with my F.I.V.E.S lesson system: Fun, Interactive, Varied, Engaging, and Simplified. Literacy (reading, writing, and comprehension) is incorporated into every academic period and social-emotional learning is encouraged during academic periods and play time. Please click here to see our MONTHLY LEARNING THEMES.
The importance of free play, which encompasses half of my program and has a strong overlap in nearly every other pedagogy I’ve already mentioned, allows a child to learn naturally and positively through fun in an environment that provides intellectual stimulation and peer engagement. For toys, a selection of building materials like Lincoln Logs, Legos, blocks, magnetic tiles, Play-Doh, and other such toys provide fun play that stimulates creativity and develops fine-motor skills. A play kitchen, with tons of play food and cooking equipment, and cash register for grocery “sales”, along with a variety of costumes such as a chef, police officer, firefighter, vet, contribute to role-playing (social skills) and cooperative play (negotiation) with peers. Stuffed animals, dolls with outfits and accessories, figurines with multiple play structures all help develop imaginative interactions and social-emotional skills. A wide variety of musical instruments and music players (toy and real) contribute to music appreciation and personal enrichment. Puzzles and learning technology gamify logic learning and can be done in small groups or individually. The underlying goal here is to provide a vast and varied selection of stimulating toys —enough for each child to play individually and in groups. I intersperse these play periods with the structured lesson times for a mental reset and to provide a variety of learning engagements.