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 characterized by joy, playfulness, and the cultivation of awe and wonder. Language acquisition and self-expression are valued for all children, and exposure to early literacy, art, music, nature-based exploration, and environmental literacy 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 in a balanced approach that supports the development of the whole child. Our classrooms are rich with materials, books, open-ended manipulatives, and toys—but without TV, videos, and electronic devices.
Research shows that social skills and emotional intelligence are essential for success in life. Children at Treehouse Learning learn to notice and name feelings, build awareness of their own state of whole-brain integration, self-regulate, to be members of a group, to share, to take turns, to help others, to wait, to make choices, to complete a task, to resolve conflicts and to problem-solve with an emphasis of being part of the solution and a goal of helping to make the world a better place. 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 conversations 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.
We use Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence’s RULER Social-Emotional Curriculum, Brain Gyms, and play-based learning experiences to intentionally support the development and integration of each child as a whole person with a body, mind, and heart.
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, as well as the work of Dr. Dan Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson and emerging research connection brain neuroscience and child development. During their days, months, and years at Treehouse Learning, children develop safe and secure attachment 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 role of a teacher or more-skilled peer in helping children to achieve higher levels of competency through the concept of the Zone of Proximal Development, or the bridge between what a child can do independently, and what the child can not yet do, even with assistance. He also emphasizes the social context of learning, in that children are prompted to learn from more competent peers in mixed-age settings. Our preschool classrooms also incorporate the “Tools of the Mind” program – which is a Vygotsky-based curriculum that 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 in mixed-age settings, based on the belief that young children can learn complex concepts easily during sensitive periods through child-led inquiry and exploration. 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.
Playful learning experiences provide the method for all learning to unfold via the joyful activation and integration of all parts of the brain through multi-sensory engagement and whole-person learning. Brain research and the science of interpersonal neurobiology confirm that optimal learning and development occur in the context of safe and secure attachment relationships. Nature designed children to effectively and efficiently learn through playful experiences, which provide a holistic foundation for lifelong patterns of learning, physical activity, and healthy social-emotional engagement. From guided activities and direct instruction to facilitating the opportunities that lead to learning, our curriculum and daily activities are geared toward helping children thrive. This means not just their future academics, careers, and relationship, but to be active and engaged participants in a thriving world on a healthy planet.
Communication about the program and classroom activities occurs via a weekly Family Notes e-mail, and classroom newsletters and brightwheel app, which provides daily reports and communications. 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. We host parent engagement and learning opportunities throughout the year, and encourage all families to be involved in building tools for effective parenting, communication, and a deeper understanding of child development. Our annual traditions include family picnics, annual pancake breakfast, holiday performances, fun run, art show, and graduation for kindergarten and first grade-bound children.