Program description and philosophy
Family Network Preschool has been in operation since 1991. We provide a socially-based enrichment program to children ages 2 years to entry into kindergarten. We have a maximum of 25 preschool children per day. We have a student-teacher ratio of 6 to 1 or better. We encourage and support family involvement in our program through daily check-ins, home visits, conferences, and other activities and resources. Our goal is to create an environment in which families feel welcomed, supported, and appreciated.
We believe play is the work of children. Our belief is based on the research of Lev Vygotsky, a psychologist who argued that child development is the result of interactions between children and their social environment. Our school provides children with many opportunities to explore sensorimotor play, solitary play, cooperative play, physical play, and fantasy play. Through play, children work on the development of personal awareness, socialization, emotional well-being, problem-solving, cognitive abilities, fine and gross motor skills, creativity, and language. As they play, children take in information and build upon what they already know, modifying and expanding their knowledge to accommodate new facts, feelings, and experiences. We want our children to be able to take the information they learn through play, and apply it to other experiences outside of school.
We believe an active child-centered environment supports the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development of young children. When an educational program is child-centered and directed, it lets us know what the children want to learn, how they learn, and what they are ready to learn. We have created an environment that encourages children to become agents of their own learning. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, we view the environment as the third educator in the classroom. The Reggio Emilia Approach emphasizes that children best create meaning and make sense of their world in environments that provide consistency, variety, and opportunities to learn new skills and develop meaningful relationships with peers, teachers, and materials. Our environment is thoughtfully and purposefully designed, taking into consideration the children’s ages and stages of development. The curriculum in the classroom is planned yet open to modification based on the children’s emerging interests and ideas. And the children, through play, help to actively construct their learning environment.
We believe learning problem-solving and conflict resolution skills is integral to the well-being of young children. In our mixed-age group classroom, children of different ages and stages of development are exploring their abilities, social relationships, and materials in the environment. There are many opportunities to help children work through personal and social problems and conflicts. Problem-solving and conflict resolution skills are modeled, encouraged, and facilitated with nurturing, respectful care and guidance. We help children learn how to appropriately express their emotions because we believe the expression of emotions is crucial to the healthy development of all people. We do not distract children who are experiencing big emotions or feelings. We take great care in helping children label, understand, and express all their emotions and feelings. We strive to make our school a place where children feel safe to express emotions and know that their emotional needs will not go unmet.
We believe early childhood practices need to be approached from a multi-cultural, anti-bias perspective. We strive to create a school that is free from stereotypes and bias. Our curriculum attempts to challenge prejudices based on skin color, ethnicity, sex, gender, age, physical ability, family structure, or economic resources. The materials, activities, and equipment we use in our school are chosen and made available to the children with these values in mind. When issues of bias and stereotypes arise, we spend time talking with the children to help them deepen and broaden their understanding of our beautifully diverse world. The differences and similarities that our students bring to the school guide us in meeting their needs and creating learning opportunities. We stress ideas of community and togetherness, across cultural boundaries, through the creation of unique classroom communities that serve as models for how to approach the rest of the world.