Classroom spaces are designed for children – creative, curious, and capable learners. They reflect and represent the children and families who live there – their faces and their work visible throughout the environment. Environment is often seen as the “third teacher”. Natural elements and materials are found indoors and outdoors, inviting spaces for exploration, play and discovery. Blocks, water, sand, paint, clay, light tables and many open-ended materials provide the resources for children to build, create, experiment, and learn. Snacks and meals are enjoyed family-style at tables where children and teachers converse, share in each others joys, and discuss daily happenings.
“In early childhood education, curriculum isn’t the focus, children are. Curriculum is “what happens” in an educational environment – not necessarily what is planned to happen, but what actually takes place.” John Nimmo 1994
At Whizz Kids Academy, curriculum happens all day, every day! Teachers as co-researchers- students as young investigators- there are endless questions to pursue, hypotheses to investigate and discoveries to be made. Our curriculum is firmly based on the belief that “play is at the heart of children’s learning”. Teachers facilitate a classroom atmosphere where children are treated as capable individuals, whose opinions, actions, and thoughts are respected and valued. The teacher role is viewed as facilitator and co-researcher in a child centered environment – one of observation, documentation, and guidance. Building curriculum around children’s choices, interests, developmental themes and the skills they are attempting to master brings meaningful discovery, thought and learning – reflecting children’s lives in the world they live in. Cultivating self-esteem and positive dispositions toward learning are key to our program, as well as encouraging risk taking, problem solving and peace making skills.
“Documentation is the process of gathering evidence and artifacts of “what happens” in the classroom. Documentation is not only the process of gathering evidence and artifacts, but also a physical collection of evidence, the reflection on and analysis of the collection, and the presentation of that collection, or part of it, in a way that makes children’s learning visible to the children, to the teachers, to other adults including families and visitors.” Carlina Rinaldi 1994
The learning process is shared on secure online portfolios at PortfolioMyDay.com and in the classroom describing individual, small group and classroom experiences. Learning is shared as “a process”, rather than one of finished product – one of exploration, examination, and experimentation. Photoboards, learning stories, project boards, and classroom highlights tell the story of the learning journey for each child and the classroom as a whole.