In the broadest sense curriculum is everything that happens throughout the day. The physical environment, our responsive teachers, and planned activities all converge to create worthwhile and enriching learning experiences. Language acquisition and self-expression are valued for all children, and exposure to reading, art, and music begins in our infant rooms. Curriculum includes direct teaching and learning experiences derived from a prepared environment, but also includes natural teachable moments all day, every day. Our daily routines actively promote each child’s physical, intellectual, and social/emotional growth. Our classrooms are rich with materials, books, and toys—but without TV, videos, and electronic devices.
Research shows that social skills are essential for success in life. Children at Treehouse learn to be members of a group, to share, to take turns, to help others, to wait, to make choices, to complete a task, and to resolve conflicts. Our infants say “please,” “thank you,” and “more” with sign language, and eagerly greet other children and their parents. Older children learn to develop empathy and verbal confidence. During snacks and lunches, teachers model mealtime conversation and trying new foods. Children learn to eat independently, serving themselves, and participate in table setting and clean up. We teach children about being safe in their classrooms, with their friends and belongings.
The foundation of our curriculum at Treehouse Learning is a synthesis of several traditions of educational leadership. Piaget, Vygotsky, and Montessori to name a few. During their days, months, and years at Treehouse Learning, children develop secure relationships with caring teachers, resulting in fundamental resiliency. When our children leave for kindergarten or first grade, they are distinguished by strong academic and social skills, love of learning, curiosity, and personal confidence.
Piaget is well known in the field of educational psychology, particularly his concept of developmental stages. “Developmentally Appropriate Practices” are a result of Piaget’s influence, meaning that we match our classroom activities with the child’s readiness to learn.
The writings of Vygotsky encourage teachers to offer help at the point of readiness, using the term “scaffolding” to describe the teacher’s active role in helping children to achieve higher levels of competency. He also emphasizes the social context of learning, in that children are prompted to learn from more competent peers. Our Pre-K classroom follows the “Tools of the Mind” program – which is a Vygotsky based curriculum. This program emphasizes literacy development through the lens of dramatic play. Children spend time with purposeful writing, role playing, mathematical reasoning, invention and discovery. Through this program self-regulation skills are introduced and developed naturally.
Montessori education is a long-recognized tradition of hands-on learning, based on the belief that young children can learn complex concepts easily during sensitive periods. We appreciate and draw from the Montessori philosophy to respect each child’s individual learning style and preference. At Treehouse Learning we include daily opportunities for children to practice physical, social and practical living skills. We also implement the Montessori Peace Education lessons to help children learn how to use conflict resolution when necessary and empower children to take responsibility for their own choices.
Communication about classroom activities occurs via e-mail and parent information boards. Daily reports are sent home each day for our younger children. Conferences are used for more specific information about each child. These are scheduled each Fall and Spring, as well as anytime by request. Each fall we schedule afternoon back-to-school events in our classrooms so that parents can meet our teachers and explore their child’s learning environment. Our annual traditions include a family picnic, annual pancake breakfast, holiday performances, fun run, art show, and graduation for kindergarten and first grade bound children.