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Our Core Beliefs

Our core beliefs are rooted in NAEYC’S 12 Principles of Child Development. Our philosophy, our mission statement, teaching practices and our daily curriculum are in line, not only with NAEYC’s position on the principles of child development, but also with NAEYC’S position statement on Developmentally Appropriate Practices. NAEYC is the National Association for the Education of Young Children; a professional organization (of which we are members) and a very strong political advocate focusing on improving the quality of educational and developmental services for all children birth to eight years old.

Our philosophy, learning environment and curriculum is influenced by the works of three prominent individuals in the field of early childhood education.  They are Loris Malaguzzi (who founded the schools in a northern city of Italy named Reggio Emilia), Bev Bos, and Nellie Edge.

The philosophies of all three have one prominent thread common to all… children are strong and capable. All children have potential, curiosity and interest in constructing their learning.  Children, teachers and parents are considered the central triad in the educational process.  There is intellectual development through a systematic focus on symbolic representation, including words, movement, drawing, painting, building sculpture, shadow play, collage, dramatic play and music.  Children make their thinking visible through many different materials and activities which help them to discover and communicate what they know, understand, wonder about, question, feel and imagine.

art classroomThe important role of the classroom environment is vital to the philosophies of both Reggio Emilia and Bev Bos.  There is a beauty and a purpose in the design and organization of all the space in our school, the equipment, and materials within it. The environment is rich in potential and is valued and cared for by the children and the adults.

Bev Bos believes, as we do, children learn best when they experience and participate.  Young children are not meant to be passive learners.  Children need to get their hands in it, on it, around it, through it, and under it.  As children involve more senses in their experiences, their brain activity increases, thus making their understanding more complete.  We plan activities which encourage children to see, touch, smell, hear and taste.

Although we’ve known it for years, it is now a proven fact.  kids in gymMovement and exercise positively stimulate brain growth and development.   “Exercise is beneficial to both body and mind,” says Lise Eliot, Ph.D, associate professor in the department of neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School and author of What’s Going on in There?  How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life. “Exercise has been shown to improve blood flow to the brain, improving cognition.  It increases the production of new neurons that occur in select brain regions throughout life, especially in the area of the brain crucial for storing new memories. . . . Movement matters in part because development is cumulative,” according to Eliot.  “Each advance builds on the preceding ones.”  

Engaging in physical activities is part of our daily curriculum from the youngest children to the oldest.  Besides increasing brain power, exercise strengthens muscles and bones, increases coordination, boosts self-confidence and begins a life-long routine of healthy habits.  The core belief that children need daily exercise is so important to us that we devoted 2,500 square feet of our building to gross motor activities.   

Nellie Edge’s work celebrates language.  She stresses the importance of music and prose to introduce and integrate language and literacy (the foundation of reading and writing) into all facets of the classroom.  Much of our literacy rich curriculum and our ABC Phonics and Sign Language Song comes from the teachings of Nellie Edge. 

Documentation as communication is one of the most critical components of the curriculum of the schools of Reggio Emilia.  Teachers use children’s notebooks (portfolios) to present the process of learning at our school.  Teachers’ written commentary on the inspiration and purposes of projects, photographs of activities, transcription of the children’s verbal language and the representations of their thinking are included in the pages of the notebooks (Robins and Bluebirds) for the children and their families to enjoy, ponder and revisit. 

Father and childParent participation is essential to the learning experiences at school.  We know this through our own experiences, it’s validated by research and heralded by the philosophies of Reggio, Bev and Nellie.  Parent involvement happens in many ways at KIDSPACE Child Enrichment Center – in the classroom, through projects, and family events. The ideas, skills and community that families bring to the school is beneficial to all.

NAEYC’s 12 Principles of Child Development

• All domains of development and learning—physical, social and emotional, and cognitive—are related. 
• Children follow well-documented sequences to build knowledge. 
• Children develop and learn at varying rates. 
• Learning develops from the dynamic interaction of biological maturation and experience. 
• Early childhood experiences can have profound effects, and optimal periods exist for certain types of development and learning. 
• Development proceeds toward greater complexity and self-regulation. 
• Children thrive with secure, consistent relationships with responsive adults. 
• Multiple social and cultural contexts influence learning and development. 
• Children learn in a variety of ways, so teachers need a range of strategies. 
• Play helps develop self-regulation, language, cognition, and social competence. 
• Children advance when challenged just beyond their current level of mastery. 
• Children’s experiences shape their motivation, which in turn affects their learning. 
National Association for the Education of Young Children, http://www.naeyc.org/

The term developmentally appropriate practice, or DAP for short, refers to a framework of principles and guidelines for practice that promotes young children’s optimal learning and development.

Developmentally appropriate practice is the foundation for all of NAEYC’s work—publications and conferences, professional development/training, policy/advocacy, and accreditation of both college-level preparation and child care programs. 

1. The Core of Developmentally Appropriate Practice
2. Knowledge to Consider in Making Decisions
3. Challenging and Achievable Goals
4.Effective Teaching Does Not Happen by Chance

1. The Core of Developmentally Appropriate Practice

Every day, policy makers, administrators, and teachers/caregivers make a great many decisions, at all levels, both long-term and short-term, that affect young children. It is those many decisions that determine whether what actually happens in a classroom or family child care home is or is not developmentally appropriate.

In their decision making, effective early childhood educators keep in mind the identified goals for children’s learning and development, and they are intentional in helping every child achieve these goals. The core of developmentally appropriate practice lies in this intentionality—in the knowledge educators consider when they are making decisions, and in their always aiming for goals that are both challenging and achievable for children.

2. Knowledge to Consider in Making Decisions

To make decisions that ensure their practice is developmentally appropriate, effective early childhood educators take into consideration knowledge in three areas:

1. What is known about child development and learning—referring to research-based knowledge of age-related characteristics that permits general predictions about what experiences are likely to best promote children’s learning and development. [This knowledge is reflected in the DAP Position Statement in the form of “12 Principles of Child Development and Learning”]
2. What is known about each child as an individual—referring to what educators learn about the specific children that has implications for how best to adapt and be responsive to that individual variation.
3.What is known about the social and cultural contexts in which children live—referring to the values, expectations, and behavioral and linguistic conventions that shape each of the children’s lives at home and in their communities that educators must strive to understand in order to ensure that learning experiences in the program or school are meaningful, relevant, and respectful for each child and family.

To recap this decision-making process: An effective teacher begins by thinking about what children of the age and developmental status represented in that program’s group are typically like. This knowledge provides a general idea of the activities, routines, interactions, and curriculum that should be effective. The teacher also must consider each child in that group, including looking at the child as an individual and within the context of that child’s specific family, community, culture, linguistic norms, social group, past experience (including learning and behavior), and current circumstances.

Only then can the teacher see those children as they are to make decisions that are developmentally appropriate for each of them.

3. Challenging and Achievable Goals

Meeting children where they are is essential, but no good teacher simply leaves them there. Keeping in mind desired goals and what is known about those children as a group and individually, the teacher plans experiences to promote the children’s learning and development.

Learning and development are most likely to occur when new experiences build on what a child already knows and is able to do and when those experiences also entail the child stretching a reasonable amount in acquiring new skills, abilities, or knowledge. After the child reaches that new level of mastery in skill or understanding, the effective teacher reflects on what goals should come next; and the cycle continues, advancing the child’s learning in a developmentally appropriate way.

4. Effective Teaching Does Not Happen by Chance

A hallmark of developmentally appropriate teaching is intentionality. Good teachers are intentional in everything they do—setting up the classroom, planning curriculum, making use of various teaching strategies, assessing children, interacting with them, and working with their families.

Intentional teachers are purposeful and thoughtful about the actions they take, and they direct their teaching toward the goals the program is trying to help children reach.

Excellent teachers translate the developmentally appropriate practice framework into high-quality experiences for children through the decisions they make. Such teaching is described in the DAP Position Statement in the form of “Guidelines for Developmentally Appropriate Practice” across five key aspects of the teacher’s role:

1. Creating a Caring Community of Learners
2. Teaching to Enhance Development and Learning
3. Planning Curriculum to Achieve Important Goals
4. Assessing Children’s Development and Learning
5. Establishing Reciprocal Relationships with Families

These five aspects of every teacher’s work are closely interrelated. Each is a vital part of what teachers and early childhood programs do to achieve key goals for children. None can be left out or shortchanged without seriously weakening the whole.

National Association for the Education of Young Children, http://www.naeyc.org/