What We Value
Over the course of several years, we’ve developed a paradigm that we believe best supports an infrastructure where children can grow and learn. Our educational plan encourages children to be actively involved in the learning process, to experience a variety of activities appropriate to their age and rate of development and to pursue their own interests in the context of life in the community and the world. Through play that is guided by adults, children learn language, concepts about the physical world, social skills, problem solving, motor coordination and self confidence.
Developmentally Appropriate Practices
We base our curriculum, planning and activities on these three things:
- Knowledge of the stages that all children go through and recognition of where each child is developmentally within these stages.
- Identifying individual children’s strengths, interests and needs. This requires copious anecdotal records by the teachers.
- Knowledge of the social and cultural context of the children. This requires healthy, on-going relationships with the parents and family of the child. We want parents to know they are welcome to spend time with us as often as they like. Let us get to know you! We want you to look around your child’s classroom, know what your child is doing, ask questions, talk with the teachers, exchange information, follow through with ideas from the center at home, stay involved. Share your culture, traditions and areas of expertise with the children and teachers!
Infant Through Toddler
Our Infant through Toddler Program (children ages 6 weeks – 24 months) is based on the works of Magda Gerber and the Resources for Infant Educarers, commonly known as RIE.
Our vision is that "from the day they are born, all infants are cared for with respect and are seen as unique individuals with surprising capacity to participate in relationships." Basic patterns of life such as trust, endurance, and optimism develop at an early age. When children are treated respectfully from birth, they have a better chance of gaining confidence and developing good judgment.
In order to foster quality care RIE encourages:
- Basic trust in the child to be an initiator, an explorer and a self learner
- An environment for the child that is physically safe, cognitively challenging and emotionally nurturing
- Time for uninterrupted play
- Freedom to explore and interact with other infants
- Involvement of the child in all care activities to allow the child to become an active participant rather than a passive recipient
- Sensitive observation of the child in order to understand his/her needs
- Consistency, clearly defined limits and expectations to develop discipline
- The RIE approach, based on respect, helps raise authentic infants who are: competent, confident, curious, attentive, exploring, cooperative, secure, peaceful, focused, self-initiating, resourceful, involved, cheerful, aware, interested and inner-directed.
All Age Groups
Our educational philosophy for all age groups is based on the integration of several theories and practices.
Piaget suggests that “children shape their own conceptions of reality by continuous interactions with their environment.” Vygotsky emphasizes the influence of culture and social interactions. He suggests that “children construct their own understanding of concepts in the course of interactions with others, not in isolation.”
From the work of these prominent theorists blossoms the theory of Constructivism. Essentially, this theory deduces that learning occurs when children are engaged in collaborative activity about something that deeply interests them. Constructivism’s foundational premise is that children actively construct their own knowledge. Play and experimentation are valuable forms of learning that encourage children to reflect on their ideas. Constructivism has led to the additional discovery that powerful gains are made when children work together, as well. Collaborative or cooperative learning demonstrates the benefits of children working with other children in collective learning efforts. When children collaborate, they share the process of constructing their ideas, instead of simply laboring individually. The advantages of this collective effort are that children are able to reflect and elaborate on not just their own ideas, but those of peers as well. Children come to view their peers not as competitors but as resources. Mutual tutoring, a sense of shared progress and shared goals, and a feeling of teamwork are the natural outcomes of cooperative problem-solving.
In our classrooms, Emergent Curriculum means that ideas stem from the daily life of children and adults in the program. Projects emerge as teachers thoughtfully listen to children’s conversations and social interactions to determine their deep interests. The teacher’s role is to collaborate with the children in their exploration so his/her knowledge can scaffold the child’s understanding. The teacher serves as a guide rather than a source of knowledge. The teacher engages the children by helping to organize and assist them as they take the initiative in their self-directed explorations, instead of directing their learning autocratically.
A project is an in-depth investigation of a topic worth learning more about. In a sense, like a good story, the project can be described as having a beginning, a middle and an end, each memorable in its own way. Projects develop through three phases.
In Phase 1 the teacher is particularly concerned to find out how much individual children already know and what first hand experiences form the basis of their current understanding. The children engage in an initial discussion of the topic and offer ideas and stories of their experiences. The children also paint, draw, write about, dramatize or role-play the experiences and understandings they bring to the study. The children acquire a collective baseline understanding of the topic through representing their own experience and sharing this work within the class group. The first phase concludes with the class recording a list of questions that they would like to investigate.
Phase 2 involves planning fieldwork and inviting experts to the classroom to talk with the children. The teacher’s concerns center around the provision of new first hand experiences for the children and the collection of other resources. A field trip is arranged. Real objects and processes are investigated, questions answered, more questions posed, explanations sought. Children read, write, draw, compute, gather data and represent many different kinds of findings and reactions to their experiences. A representative selection of the work is displayed on walls and shelves in the room for all the class to see. Documentation: samples of a child’s work at several different stages of completion; photos showing work in progress, comments written by the teacher or other adults working with the children, transcriptions of children’s discussions, comments and explanations of intentions of the activity. The documents reveal how the children planned, carried out and completed the displayed work.
Phase 3 features the culmination of the work in some form of opportunity to share the project with others, the principal, other classes, and parents. The work is reviewed, evaluated and particular items are selected for presentation. The emphasis is on communication of learning. There are also opportunities for children to personalize the new information for themselves in more imaginative art and dramatic activity, and personal story and poetry writing.
The environment also plays a part in helping the child construct his own knowledge. With the provision of a resource-rich, activity-based curriculum, the environment is supportive, one in which children can create their own ideas, both individually and collaboratively.
The Constructivist Approach is robustly practiced in Reggio, Italy where the Reggio Emilia philosophy is the spirit and substance of our program. We ask ourselves “Who is the child”? We have respect for the child’s intelligence. We give children time to construct their own knowledge. “Sow a small plot deep.” Quality versus quantity.
We honor the “100 languages of children.” Young children are able to form images, represent their ideas and communicate with the world around them in many ways. Young children need opportunities to express these ideas and messages not only through words but through a number of avenues including media. They need many formats for expressing themselves – words, drawings, paintings, sculpture, construction, sound, drama and movement to name a few. All of these forms of expression are a natural outgrowth of children’s thinking and problem solving.
From Italy, back to California, we borrow from Bev Bos who emanates “If it’s not in the body, it’s not in the mind.” All classroom activities embody the Bev Bos philosophy through: creativity, self expression, hands on activities and sensory oriented activities.
Children construct their moral understandings from their day to day social interactions. When we speak of “moral children” we do not mean children who are merely obedient, know moral rules of others, act in pro-social ways, conform to social conventions of politeness, have a list of character traits or are religious. Instead we refer to moral children as grappling with interpersonal issues that are a natural part of their lives. Morality must develop intrinsically, not be imposed. Our job is to model sincere behavior so that children will come to understand the spirit of the rule, the moral necessity for treating others as they would wish to be treated. This is not done by praising the deed or offering rewards or threatening punishment or imposing fear… but by sincerely commenting on the genuine effect that that child’s action had on another person.
We include Anti-Bias because it is part of moral development: “An active/activist approach to challenging prejudice, stereotyping, bias, and the isms. In a society in which institutional structures create and maintain sexism, racism, and handicappism, it is not sufficient to be non-bias (and also highly unlikely), nor is it sufficient to be an observer. It is necessary for each individual to actively intervene, to challenge and counter the personal and institutional behaviors that perpetuate oppression.”
Guidance/Positive Behavioral interventions and Supports (PBIS)
All of our centers provide guidance that helps each child acquire a positive self-concept. At all times we adhere to guidance and discipline that is positive, constructive and suited to the age of the child.
We see guidance as the external tool to help children develop internal control. Young children learn by experimenting, testing limits and experiencing the consequences of their behavior. Our program promotes a positive approach to managing the behavior of all children. It is the goal of this program to help children become happy, responsible, cooperative participants in this program through positive, non-threatening teaching techniques.
Interactions between children and caregivers provide opportunities for children to develop an understanding of self and others and are characterized by warmth, personal respect, individuality and responsiveness. Our caregivers facilitate interactions among children to provide opportunities for development of social skills and intellectual growth.
To this end, Joyful Noise has adopted the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program (PBIS), developed by the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) This program standardizes all of the various supports the teachers use to help children develop confidence, self-discipline and a healthy self image both as an individual and as part of a community. As a program rapidly becoming incorporated into the state-wide public school system, the PBIS initiative helps children learn the skills they need to succeed in the classroom socially, emotionally, developmentally and behaviorally. This program ensures that nurturing and positive relationships and predictive and supportive environments describe all age groups within any Joyful Noise Center.
The PBIS model is that of a pyramid, the foundation of which is a trained, qualified and educated workforce. Layered upon that solid foundation are the following;
Key to the guidance philosophy used at Joyful Noise are the following beliefs:
1. Children need to know what is expected of them.
We strive for simplicity and consistency by having three very specific rules in the classrooms. These rules are: BE SAFE. BE FRIENDLY. BE A WORKER. At Joyful Noise we teach these rules so that children can learn how to be safe, respectful and responsible in the classroom environment and in the community.
2. Children need to be directly taught positive behavior.
The three center rules are very general and do not really explain HOW to be safe, be friendly, or be a worker. This is done through projects and activities in the classrooms where teachers explain and define each expectation for the children by breaking them down into positively-stated language. Our goal in doing this is to teach the children what they CAN do, instead of always being told what they CAN'T or SHOULDN'T do.
Teachers provide visuals and role-modeling to further illustrate the rule or concept, incorporating fun songs, finger-plays, flannel board stories and/or puppets to teach the rules. The children have opportunities to practice the rules and they are acknowledged for positive behavior as well.
3. Positive behavior needs to be encouraged and acknowledged.
Once a behavior is taught, the child must be motivated to use that behavior in place of less appropriate behavior. We accomplish this through positive feedback from caregivers and teachers that recognize the child and let him/her see that others are aware that he/she is interacting in a pro-social way. In addition, the teachers provide frequent reminders and pre-corrections to help the children remember certain rules, especially during times of transition, which can be problematic and difficult for young children. This helps the children to follow the rules by reminding them ahead of time instead of having to correct them after a behavioral mistake occurs.
Finally, we encourage families to participate in a six-part series for parents called "Positive Solutions for Families". This series is available on the CSEFEL website.This training can help everyone in a child's life to be more effective in dealing with behaviors. At Joyful Noise, we believe that helping children learn the skills they need to get along with others is key to their future success and happiness.