The Children’s Choice Preschool (CCPRE) Approach
The Children’s Choice Preschool (CCPRE) Approach to Preschool was formed and informed by the works and philosophies of Lev Vygotsky, John Dewey, Maria Montessori, the Reggio Emilia philosophy, and many other wise and progressive educators and child development specialists.
From Lev Vygotsky we take the importance of play and collaboration with peers and teachers to the child’s construction of general knowledge and development of autonomy. Lev Vygotsky said, “What a child can do today with assistance, she will be able to do by herself tomorrow.” We know that play is the leading source of development, the fundamental mode of learning, and the very essence of learning in preschool. We know that through play and social interactions children develop language, abstract thought, and self-discipline. At CCPRE, we know that play and collaboration create the mental skills of fantasy, curiosity, and imagination – the cognitive tools required for success in literacy, math and science.
From John Dewey – we take the important role that hands-on, experiential learning plays in the development of autonomy and feelings of self worth – precursors for living a good life. John Dewey said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” We know that education is a social and interactive process, and that children thrive in an environment where they are allowed to experience and interact with the curriculum. John Dewey said, “Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.” The aim of CCPRE is not to provide a place where kids acquire a set of pre-determined knowledge or set of skills but a place where they can exercise their imaginations, acquire the ability to learn how to learn, and learn how to live. At CCPRE kids must be able to interact with the children, teachers, environment and experiences on a personal level.
From Maria Montessori, we take the importance of giving children individual freedom, rather than forcing them to do the same thing at the same time. We take the importance of the learning environment and of furnishings made for children that they can arrange and rearrange to suit their needs. We take the idea of the authentic child – confident, joyful, independent, cooperative, helpful, peaceful, and internally motivated. We know that children can teach observant educators how and what they need to learn. Maria Montessori said, “It is only the power of love that can enable the adult to come close enough to the child to understand him. Love and humility will unlock for us ‘the secret of childhood.’” CCPRE is a nurturing, warm, inviting place where kids can gain the ability to articulate their needs and feelings, which are respected by adults. It is a place where adults are responsive to the needs of children. It is a place where children learn to be respectful and responsive to each other. At CCPRE kids can frequently proceed at their own pace in an enriched environment while choosing between many learning opportunities and playing with imaginative teaching materials and media.
From the Reggio Approach, we take the image of the child as a strong capable learner; we take the importance of the environment which has a tremendous capacity to influence and inspire children; we take the importance of documenting and displaying the works of children as a means of celebrating and informing the educative experience; and we take the belief that the family and the community are vital parts of the child’s education. Loris Malaguzzi, founder of Reggio Emilia’s educational philosophy, said, “Stand aside for a while and leave room for learning, observe carefully what children do, and then, if you have understood well, perhaps teaching will be different from before.” At CCPRE the curriculum and learning projects emerge from the interests and needs of the children; teachers document the evidence of learning progression through displays and portfolios; teachers and children work collaboratively to represent their thoughts and perceptions through a variety of media; and families and the community fill strong and vital roles in our school.