Teaching is not telling; teaching is guided discovery.– Lynn Staley
Our teachers respect, support, and encourage each child’s style and pace of learning. This fosters their self-esteem, individuality, and creativity. Students develop a love of learning and the courage to question and explore through opportunities to create, solve problems, and advocate for diverse solutions. At WPELC, we emphasize the process of an activity, rather than the product.
Play is children’s most useful tool for preparing for the future.
Flexible thinking, communication, fantasy, emotional stresses and delights, human relationships, compassion, movement, and creative pursuits all occur in play.
Children master new skills through practice, play, and the pursuit of their own interests. Play is central to learning for young children and provides opportunities to develop in many realms.
- Social – Play provides endless opportunities to interact with others. Children get to collaboratively plan, problem-solve, share, and express thoughts and feelings. They also learn to listen, lead, follow, negotiate, and take turns. Through play, children learn to get along with others.
- Emotional – Play contributes to emotional development by providing a safe avenue for children to express themselves, explore feelings, and take initiative. Children “try on” powerful roles, take risks, and safely make mistakes.
- Cognitive – Play offers opportunities to use divergent thinking, gain conceptual development, and acquire language skills. Children explore solutions to problems as they play. A child building a bridge out of blocks may try different ways to keep the bridge from collapsing. During water play, children explore the concepts of mass, volume, and the nature of change.
- Physical – Young children’s physical development occurs rapidly. Play lets children practice both gross and fine motor skills. Playing a game of tag, climbing a tree, or walking on a balance beam provide valuable physical input. So do “writing down” a friend’s breakfast order in the dramatic play area or stringing beads to make a necklace.
Areas of Learning
What other areas of learning does WPELC encourage? How does the staff support this learning?
Emergent literacy is the natural, gradual development of a young child’s listening, speaking, reading, and writing abilities.
Emergent literacy lays a strong foundation and understanding of language that creates lifelong readers and writers.
How do we encourage literacy?
- Encourage and support conversation, storytelling, finger-plays, and playing with spoken language
- Offer varied experiences with writing and writing materials
- Value children’s written expressions, even though they may not represent standard writing
- Demonstrate relationships between spoken and written words through dictation, re-reading, and pointing to words
- Introduce letter identification and phonology through words and meaningful activities
- Encourage multiple uses of writing: making lists, signs, labels, letters, stories, and recipes
Emphasis on creativity includes developing and generating original ideas.
Divergent thinking is important in the creative process and for later schooling (i.e. taking initiative, problem-solving, and innovating within realistic constraints).
How do we encourage creative thinking?
- Provide various materials for exploration and play
- Facilitate pretend play and fantasy
- Help children focus on their own talents and strengths and encourage individuality in their work
- Provide a psychologically safe classroom with both the freedom and security necessary for individual and/or group exploration
- Invite children to express ideas freely and spontaneously
- Provide children time to think and develop ideas
- Comment on children’s process rather than encouraging the finished product
How well we develop socially will have life-long effects.
Social competence is critical for success in all aspects of our lives.
How do we encourage social competence?
- Provide environments that maximize positive social behaviors at their own rate and by their own choice
- Make learning environments non-competitive
- Use conflicts as opportunities to guide children towards social competence
- Encourage seeking out others when help is needed
- Accept children’s feelings and allow them to experience them without being judged
- Encourage understanding and respect for individual differences and needs
Competence in initiative is a key component to future learning and life success.
Children who develop initiative become self-directed learners who make decisions, problem-solve effectively, preconceive ideas, and take action to follow through until completion.
How do we encourage initiative?
- Give children a choice when it is truly a choice
- Allow decision-making about what they do and how
- Reflectively describe the choices children make in their work and play
- Provide varied and accessible materials
- Encourage helping each other, which reinforces children’s competence and authority
Competence in math is a key component to future learning and life success.
When children use manipulative toys, build with blocks, set the table, or play in the water table, they learn mathematical skills and concepts.
How do we encourage math?
- Sequence, match, sort, and group
- Create and notice patterns
- Recognize part/whole relationships
- Understand spatial relationships, one-to-one correspondence and trajectory
- Develop a sense of time
Competence in science is a key component to future learning and life success.
By exploring and developing an awareness of the world around them, children learn to guess, make predictions, and record observations.
How do we encourage science?
- See how sand and water move
- Ask questions and make predictions
- Use magnets, light tables, and magnifying glasses
- Take things apart
- Have animals in the classroom
- Grow and care for plants
- Observe changes in weather and seasons