About the Grant Park Cooperative Preschool
The curriculum at Grant Park Cooperative Preschool has evolved since the preschool opened in the fall of 2000 as we explored several types of curricula, approaches, and educational philosophies, including the Creative Curriculum, the Reggio Emilia Approach, Heuristic Play, Emergent Curriculum and Developmentally Appropriate Practices.
Our practice with young children has been most influenced by the Reggio Emilia Approach. During the first school year, the director, some of the teachers, and the education committee members discovered the Reggio Emilia Approach and its fundamentals. Since then, many of the teachers and the director have visited the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and have participated in an on-going project with other schools in the community to deepen our understanding of this Approach. Our continued study of this innovative way of thinking about young children's education has brought a lot of enthusiasm for Reggio Emilia to our school. The theoretical encounter with Italian educators became a wonderful source of inspiration to become, not a Reggio School, but the best school we can be. This approach fits perfectly with our vision of the kind of place we would like for our school to be. We believe cooperation among children, teachers and families is the backbone of establishing a school as a community of learners. The Reggio Emilia Approach has also encouraged us to find our own roots, identity, and values as individuals and as a community.
It is important to understand that we are not trying to “copy” the Reggio Emilia Approach in our work with young children. Instead, our study of this unique Approach, as well as other educational approaches, has assisted us in developing our own philosophy for working with young children.
It is also important to understand that a school’s philosophy of education is different than a school’s curriculum. The development of a philosophy has assisted our school in developing a curriculum. To clarify, our philosophy helps us to understand why we make the choices we make in our work with young children while our curriculum assists us in understanding how to make decisions about the work we do with young children.
Grant Park Cooperative Preschool’s Educational Approach
The program focuses on the total development of the child including cognitive, communication, language, social, emotional, and physical skills. In planning the program the following three assumptions are used as guidelines:
1. The child learns best through direct interaction with the environment. Learning comes through playing; and activities in the classroom have an essential experiential basis.
2. The child's total development follows a hierarchy of stages and sequences. The program changes appropriately as the child grows and moves through stages of development. Activities are planned which address the current interests and skill levels of the children in any given group.
3. The young child's confidence, knowledge of self, and willingness to risk grow through positive and successful experiences. Small class size enables the teachers to know and plan for an individual child's skill level and to provide assistance so as to minimize confusing, overly frustrating, or meaningless experiences. The classroom environment is designed to maximize a child's independence and to present challenges, which contribute to personal growth.
4. The child’s experiences, home-life, and world away from GPCP are essential to learning. Activities are planned to fully integrate home-life and school-life. These activities will stem from events in the child’s life, in consultation with parents, including but not limited to new additions to a family, illness, holidays, moving and other important life events.