At the University School for Young Children we believe in creating an environment that promotes active, experiential learning and reflection for learners of all ages. We support positive development by providing stimulating learning environments with rich opportunities for growth and discovery. Our philosophy is grounded in knowledge and theory in child development, early childhood education, and developmentally appropriate practice. We respect all individuals and support the unique abilities and perspectives each brings to our work with young children and families. We value families and the community and appreciate the multiple contexts that impact development and growth.
At the University School for Young Children, we use The Creative Curriculum in conjunction with other tools and philosophies that are solidly grounded in child development research and theory. For preschool children, we also use the Missouri PreK Standards to guide our curriculum and assessment.
We believe that children are competent and full of rich potential. We believe that our trust in children’s eagerness to learn and their abilities to do so best equips us to guide them as they seek knowledge and understanding. At the University School for Young Children, we focus on four types of learning (Katz):
- Knowledge and understanding
- Dispositions or approaches to learning
We recognize that children need to develop an understanding of basic concepts and facts (knowledge), as well as develop skills necessary for physical growth, reading, math, science, social studies, and other areas of learning. They must also develop approaches to learning, such as asking questions, being persistent in tasks and using problem-solving skills in order to be successful over a lifetime. In addition, we must focus on feelings to help children develop a strong sense of self that builds confidence, guides them as they interact with others, and creates competence and a caring attitude toward others.
Our teachers engage daily in ongoing assessment. They find out what children care about, what they know and what they can do by observing, as well as sharing and discussing information with families. This knowledge is used to build the curriculum that engages the children with the optimum level of challenge.
We consider strong relationships between family and school a key part of our curriculum. It is through the trust between the teacher and family that the child feels comfortable to explore and try new experiences. The classrooms offer daily routines that are predictable, allowing the child to become secure and fostering the development of new relationships with adults and peers. As the children feel safe, they are able to engage in learning and make new discoveries that lead to deeper knowledge and the development of new skills.
As a laboratory school, we have the benefit of having practicum students working in the classrooms as part of their educational experience. These students take lecture courses that correspond with their laboratory experiences. Practicum students provide us with many advantages, including enthusiasm and the introduction of new perspectives. As part of their coursework, they also introduce new learning projects to the children on a regular basis, enriching our curriculum.