Our Philosophy

Our approach to learning has been deeply influenced by bell hooks, Bettina Love, John Dewey, Lev Vygotsky and the educators of Reggio Emilia, Italy. Their work and thinking has helped to shape our fundamental belief that people learn best when they actively construct their own understanding. This learning takes place in the context of our relationships with each other and our encounters with the world. This belief is the foundation of our curriculum and encompasses all of our work with young children, their families, and colleagues. This includes our planning, design of our environments, routines, selection of materials, and interactions. Our rich curriculum emerges and uniquely derives from the identities and interests of the children, teachers, families and our values which embody who we are. Our hope is to create a community of inquiry, where children and educators alike are empowered to wonder together and pursue their curiosities. In the context of these meaningful experiences and investigations, teachers support and deepen children’s exploration of math, language and literacy, science, social studies and the arts.

Image of the Child

In designing The Highlander School, we commit ourselves to a strong image of the child. We believe children are interconnected with this earth and our community; that the child is born with multiple ways of knowing, intuitions, and connections; and that the child is capable, intelligent, and full of complexity, wonder, and a desire to connect with others and the world around them. We believe children have the right to be treated with respect, dignity and to be a part of the decision-making process. Children are viewed not as passive participants, but as active discoverers and constructors of their own knowledge.

We resist the image of the child as a future worker or consumer, to be filled with predetermined knowledge. Instead, we recognize children as citizens of the world today and know that their sheer presence on earth should be honored. 

Parent Partnership

Parents play a valued and crucial role in every aspect of our school community. Parental participation in the education process is paramount to the Highlander philosophy of early childhood education. Parents are viewed as equal partners and are invited to participate in collaborative planning meetings with teachers and share their ideas and perspectives on common goals.

Social Constructivism

Learning is an active and social process. It is a cultural practice that connects individuals to their society and culture. Based on the theory of Lev Vygotsky, we believe that part of learning in a culture requires “coaching” from an expert of the community. Therefore, in our practices at The Highlander School one will see a balance between child-directed experiences and teachers guiding children in the acquisition of new skills and knowledge.