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 view the child as capable, intelligent, full of complexity, wonder and a desire to connect with others. We see children as having existing knowledge that they bring to learning opportunities and believe that they 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.
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.
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.