Curriculum

Reggio-Inspired Curriculum

Our Reggio-inspired curriculum emphasizes building strong interpersonal relationships, and we consider all children from birth to be competent, creative, and powerful beings. They are already powerful learners, and they are constantly making meaning out of their environment as their bodies grow and develop through their five basic senses and approximately 12 additional senses. The following terms capture the broad categories of our program emphasis:

  • Partnership with Children
  • Child-Centered
  • Child-Directed
  • Teacher Facilitated
  • Reggio-Inspired 
  • Family Supported
  • Emergent Curriculum
  • Inquiry Driven
  • Play-Influenced
  • In-Depth Explorations
  • Project Based Approach

Our Methods

Our methods result in comprehensive caring and nurturing for each child and in unique learning that is appropriate for each child’s age and developmental levels. Our teaching strategies rely primarily on an equitable partnership with each child within an emergent curriculum, featuring in-depth explorations for all ages and including a multi-media project approach that is more pronounced as children get older and enter our preschool and pre-kindergarten programs.

It is based on the continuous examination of each child’s developmental levels and readiness and emphasizes each child exploring and expressing their emerging inclinations, fascinations, interests, and enthusiasms. The program includes rich materials environments, varied groupings of children, and a team of exceptionally well educated, trained, and experienced professionals who collaborate with children and families to accomplish the desired development and learning for each child.

Our Methods

Our methods result in comprehensive caring and nurturing for each child and in unique learning that is appropriate for each child’s age and developmental levels. Our teaching strategies rely primarily on an equitable partnership with each child within an emergent curriculum, featuring in-depth explorations for all ages and including a multi-media project approach that is more pronounced as children get older and enter our preschool and pre-kindergarten programs.

It is based on the continuous examination of each child’s developmental levels and readiness and emphasizes each child exploring and expressing their emerging inclinations, fascinations, interests, and enthusiasms. The program includes rich materials environments, varied groupings of children, and a team of exceptionally well educated, trained, and experienced professionals who collaborate with children and families to accomplish the desired development and learning for each child.

Our Inspirations

We maintain environments for child development and learning that are joyful, exciting, caring, aesthetic, compelling, dependable, safe, and rich with creativity, surprises, and the promise of great potential.

Our staff facilitates individual and group development by ensuring that children pursue stimulating learning experiences and environments that foster physical growth, emotional well-being, social relationships, creativity, and intellectual development. The daily activities are guided by highly qualified teachers, and the outcomes are regularly reported to parents through documentation and display of children’s work, anecdotes from the professional staff, journals and portfolios for each child, and formal and informal parent conferences.

The infants and toddlers receive concentrated nurturing and care combined with daily attention to individual and small group activities that focus on sensory, physical, emotional, social, and cognitive development. Your child is assigned to a primary teacher and team who will be the primary caregivers and teachers of your child during the first 18 months of your child’s life. The result is consistency for each child, a foundation of basic trust, and a climate of encouragement. 

Our program is designed to address the unique requirements of each child, while emphasizing movement, play, manipulation, exploration, expression, reflection, socialization, and autonomy. Children have freedom in choosing activities and are facilitated in proceeding at their own pace. 

They learn according to their own individual capabilities and enjoy a sense of spontaneity and open potential within a secure framework of daily routines and adult support. Elements that reinforce our approach include sensory toys and materials, crawling and climbing structures, sounds and music, expressive media, living plants and animals, language development, dramatic play, stories, and outdoor experiences.

The older toddlers and preschool children also receive constant care and nurturing, while continuing skill development in personal hygiene, toileting, and helping to care for their environment. They are assisted in exploring and expressing themselves individually and in various learning groups. 

They have access to a wide range of established learning areas and activities at the Preschool Center that include: stories and reading; dramatic play; drawing and painting; language development and writing; water and sand tables; sounds and a music program; live animals; household; blocks; earth ware clay and playdough; group meeting; math; science; light and shadows; live plants and garden; projections; sculpture; sensory; the store; movement and dance; outdoor play yards; familiarization with technology, such as computers, video, and digital photography; and, exploring the city environment and Nature. In addition, we often have special visitors who share their knowledge, experiences, skills, and fascinating items from their lives and work.

Our preschool and pre-kindergarten children develop skills in effective group processes, powerful inquiry techniques, a comprehensive project approach, an appreciation for and skills in working with differences, familiarity with a wide range of materials, tools, and processes, use of appropriate technologies, strong literacy capabilities, and a love of learning while achieving self-confidence, self-sufficiency, and high self-esteem. Our older children typically meet and exceed the standards for entering kindergarten.

A special component of our program is the parent initiated Artist in Residence program. It brings in parents, staff members, and friends of C5 who have interests, skills, experiences, and marvelous spirit to share with the children and staff. An Artist in Residence is scheduled as volunteers are secured. 

They bring in their instruments, video tapes, CDs, samples of their work, stories of their work and lives, demonstrations, opportunities for children to get their hands on professional instruments, materials, equipment, and tools. Examples of previous Artists in Residence include adults who bring in and share their guitar, bluegrass banjo, concert harp, jazz bass, sewing, spinning, painting and collage, cooking, word play, computer graphics, grand piano, and opera.

Over the years, we have built up our music program from many sources, including training in California from the Music Together organization that is based in Princeton, New Jersey, and has programs world-wide. We conduct special, joyful half-hour music and movement sessions each week throughout the year for children in their learning groups that focus on selections from the Music Together family song books and matching songs downloadable by families. Families have access to the resource rich Music Together website with a wide array of materials about how children develop music competence over the years and other useful information.

Enjoyment begins immediately! Children are guided in joyfully developing music competency and appreciation while they sing the songs, play a wide range of musical instruments, and experience dramatic movement and dance that complement the diverse musical offerings. Parents are invited and some attend many of the sessions.

In addition to wonderful movement experiences throughout the week, we also focus on special creative movement and dance for a half an hour each week in every classroom. We use the themes of the children’s in-class explorations and projects as motivation and vehicles for engaging in exciting related movement activities. The individual, partnerships, and group experiences help the children to learn through creative expression about their bodies, about relating to others, and about language and attitudes related to creative movement and dance.

One of our guiding principles is that every learning group is a Community of Learners. That means each group has the potential for and experiences many of the dynamics that occur in communities outside of the C5 school. Children and adults who are in groups have special motivations and go through typical stages of growth and development with the group during the time that they are together. 

We pay attention to these patterns, motivations, and potentials at C5 and use them to guide our facilitation of optimal learning and development for each individual child and for each learning group as a whole. One area of interest and concern that children have is to be accepted, understood, and appreciated for who they are. 

Another is to have influence in their social and physical environments. Another is to be able to accomplish tasks that are satisfying, while alone, as well as with others in the context of their learning group.

A large body of research and practice supports this notion of how groups work. We agree with most of the research and practitioners who say that when children are working closely with teachers who are trained to address these three basic areas of motivation and development in the learning groups in the classrooms that the children will progress faster and to a higher degree than they will in educational and developmental programs that do not address these directly.

There is no trade-off between facilitating the optimal development of individual children and facilitating the development of the learning group. Both are very important. They reinforce each other, and they each deserve thorough and continuous attention. The ultimate desired outcome is that every child, as a unique individual, will learn and develop to her or his highest potential. We believe that this will be possible in large part because C5 is constantly learning and improving as an organization and each child is participating in learning groups that are each operating as an effective Community of Learners.

The children’s sensitivities, skills, insights, and knowledge are built from their marvelous ability to continually pursue their individual interests and to creatively explore and express themselves. Through an effective collaboration with parents, we can help the children at C5 to develop the capacity to continue their own progress, confidently succeed in future school settings and later in life, and make significant contributions to their families, communities, and society as a whole.

Special Interest Groups

Groups of children naturally form around special interests and can be briefly active or sustain an interest and be facilitated by one or more teachers on an ongoing basis. Groups can form at any time and be active at any time that the children are working. Members of the group can come from various learning groups and different ages within a classroom. 

Some interest groups develop complex projects and continue to work together for weeks or months. They can meet each day at project time, later in the afternoon, or as often as they and the teachers can arrange it.

Providing for and facilitating Interest Groups enables children to benefit from work on similar interests with other children who may or may not be in their structured Learning Groups and who may be of different ages. The mixing of interest groups, learning groups, free play times, and one-on-one times with teachers is a vital combination and variety of learning and development strategies that enhances individual and group growth every day.

Special Interest Groups

Groups of children naturally form around special interests and can be briefly active or sustain an interest and be facilitated by one or more teachers on an ongoing basis. Groups can form at any time and be active at any time that the children are working. Members of the group can come from various learning groups and different ages within a classroom. 

Some interest groups develop complex projects and continue to work together for weeks or months. They can meet each day at project time, later in the afternoon, or as often as they and the teachers can arrange it.

Providing for and facilitating Interest Groups enables children to benefit from work on similar interests with other children who may or may not be in their structured Learning Groups and who may be of different ages. The mixing of interest groups, learning groups, free play times, and one-on-one times with teachers is a vital combination and variety of learning and development strategies that enhances individual and group growth every day.

Afternoon Program

The Afternoon Program is a natural convening and organizing structure for interest groups. Children can develop a common fascination there and/or use the time for meeting around their own individual interests. Most classrooms have planned an Afternoon Program that features special activities that repeat on the same day each week. The activities are usually planned in collaboration by the children and the teachers. The activities are offered somewhere in the classroom, and children can elect to participate or not, as they wish.

The focus is often derived from children’s current ongoing projects, that usually receive dedicated time every morning, or from their expressed interests. Often, individual children or whole learning groups will want to revisit work on their main project in the afternoon.

A Typical
Afternoon Program

Hundreds of interests are explored over time in the afternoons. A few examples unrelated to ongoing projects have been:

  • Mondays: “Working with Clay” or “Colored Lights and Shadows”
  • Tuesdays: “Painting on Unusual Surfaces” or “Water Play and Explorations”
  • Wednesdays: “Photography” or “Film-Making” or “Dramatic Play”
  • Thursdays: “Assemblies — Constructions, Collages, and Crumpled Objects” or “Disassembly”
  • Fridays: “Dance Party, with special effects lighting” or “Student-Made Board Games”

A Typical
Afternoon Program

Hundreds of interests are explored over time in the afternoons. A few examples unrelated to ongoing projects have been:

  • Mondays: “Working with Clay” or “Colored Lights and Shadows”
  • Tuesdays: “Painting on Unusual Surfaces” or “Water Play and Explorations”
  • Wednesdays: “Photography” or “Film-Making” or “Dramatic Play”
  • Thursdays: “Assemblies — Constructions, Collages, and Crumpled Objects” or “Disassembly”
  • Fridays: “Dance Party, with special effects lighting” or “Student-Made Board Games”

Reggio-Inspired

C5 Children’s School has been inspired by the pre-primary schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy since 2002. We are also inspired by the pre-primary schools in Pistoia, Italy and by several other world-wide best practices in learning and development.

The schools in both of the Italian cities are significant inspirations for us and comprehensive examples of how beautiful, wondrous, and effective a concentration on early childhood development and education can be when an entire community gets behind exceptional quality for young children.

The town of Reggio Emilia devotes a significant percentage of their gross tax revenue to their early childhood programs. They also have the generous participation of local architects, designers, artists, researchers, musicians, chefs, and parent volunteers to plan for and create unique learning environments, elements, and experiences.

Immediately after World War II ended, the women of Reggio Emilia began reassembling a school house for their children to begin getting special attention and the learning and development that would protect and enhance their development and learning in new ways. They wanted to abandon the old, strict, didactic form of instruction and replace it with an interactive, child-centered, highly respectful, aesthetic, exploratory, creative, and democratic approach. They relied on their long tradition of the arts as a basis for their curriculum. Wherever they could, they designed and built schools that resembled their Italian town design, with collaborative, community-oriented, interactive spaces open to the outdoors, and a central piazza within the school building.

The city of Reggio Emilia has formed the organization known as Reggio Children. It publishes an extensive array of books and pamphlets that illustrate and describe the comprehensive approach to professionalism in education that the schools exemplify. Reggio Children also sends consultants to many countries around the world to facilitate culture appropriate adaptations of their Reggio approach. There are also amazing exhibits of the work of children from Reggio Emilia that are hosted by prominent cities in the USA and abroad.

C5 Children’s School had a “Bridge to Reggio” Program for 10 years beginning in  2007. We sent over a dozen staff members to Reggio Emilia as part of the week-long U.S. Study Tours. Some of us have gone more than once. A few of us have also gone to Pistoia, Italy on an extended study tour. All of us who participated have brought back many ideas and inspirations and adapted most of them to our American and West Coast cultures. Many of us have, and at times our entire staff has, participated in many Reggio workshops conducted in the U.S. by representatives from the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. 

Our current program at C5 allows for and accommodates a variety of study plans for our staff members to learn more about the unique approaches that are practiced in Reggio and Pistoia, Italy.

Emergent Curriculum

At C5, children’s interests, fascinations, developmental issues, and family cultures are the primary vehicle for immediate, complex, comprehensive, and sustained learning and development. Our Director of Learning, Joe Wiseman, says,

“What emerges from each child becomes the curriculum.” and . . . “The curriculum walks in the door every day.”

Emergent Curriculum

At C5, children’s interests, fascinations, developmental issues, and family cultures are the primary vehicle for immediate, complex, comprehensive, and sustained learning and development. Our Director of Learning, Joe Wiseman, says,

“What emerges from each child becomes the curriculum.” and . . . “The curriculum walks in the door every day.”

Curricula by Age Group

If your child is an infant or young toddler, the curriculum is focused on expert nurturing for your child and supporting their developmental issues. We provide expert nurturing and a safe and secure environment for your child to feel comfortable and open to developing attachment to their primary teacher. With those conditions established, and supporting your child’s natural, individual daily patterns of eating, diapering, and napping, we provide a rich and various sensory experiences and opportunities for them to develop their exploratory skills and their body in their own way and in their own time.

If your child is an older toddler, we work with him or her in a gentle, caring, and expert manner to develop social skills as relationship opportunities emerge and to guide them in exploring a rich array of materials, processes, tools, and environments. As they demonstrate individual interests, we assist them in exploring them in-depth and in a variety of ways over extended periods of time

If your child is a preschool or pre-kindergarten student, we facilitate them in pursuing their inclinations, interests, and fascinations through a variety of media, processes, and environments, while supporting their individual learning style, temperament, developing group skills, and multiple intelligences.

What emerges from each learning group are also opportunities for focus on real issues that have meaning for the children. We are practiced at facilitating the aggregation of interests within a learning group and assisting them in engaging explorations and projects that accommodate all of the individual interests, various learning styles, personalities, and developmental levels within the group.

At the heart of our program is a focus on high-quality relationships with children, parents, and family members that are respectful, equitable, trusting, collaborative, caring, gentle, and based on skills using our carefully developed philosophy and years of practice.