Our teaching philosophy at Columbia Baptist Child Development Center is rooted first and foremost in the belief that all children are created by God and that every moment we spend with a child is a divine appointment. We are also influenced by the Reggio Emilia Approach. This approach of teaching and learning is rooted in the knowledge that children are full of curiosity, creativity and powerful ideas. Our curriculum is flexible and emerges from children’s ideas, thoughts, and observations. This way of working with children stands in contrast to more traditional teaching methods that view the teacher as the source of knowledge and children as empty vessels waiting to be filled by the teacher.
The following teaching and learning principles guide our work with young children
- The child as an active participant in learning. We see each child as competent and full of potential. We take their ideas seriously. Children and teachers have opportunities to propose topics for explorations and make plans together, laying out how the explorations should progress. Sometimes the children’s ideas do not lead to the desired result, and they have to evaluate their initial plan with the support of the teacher and/or other children and try again. These child-initiated explorations provide opportunities for hands-on learning in various subjects, such as math, language arts, science, social science, music, artistic expression, engineering, technology, etc. Because these explorations stem from the children’s interests, the children are highly motivated and engaged.
- The importance of the environment. The environment of the school is seen as the third teacher, after other children and adults (parents and teachers). The classrooms are welcoming and warm and are set up to encourage engagement and minimize distraction. Our indoor and outdoor spaces and materials are thoughtfully managed to enhance learning and discovery. We utilize a wide range of open-ended materials (i.e. objects that have multiple uses and infinite possibilities such as sand and pine cones) and strive to include as many natural materials as we can. Because the materials are open-ended, the children are encouraged to use them in creative ways.
- Collaboration of the teacher, parents, and child in the process of learning. We view the parents as the primary faith influencers of their child and the essential resources for the child's learning. To foster community, we host a variety of events throughout each school year, including conferences and special lectures for parents.
- Documentation of children's activities to make learning visible. Our teachers use a variety of documentation methods, such as cameras, video recorders,and written anecdotal notes, to track children's thoughts and ideas as they play together or work with materials. They then work with our resident artist to display work that children are particularly proud of in informative and attractive ways. Sometimes this excellent work is a social interaction that is retold through photographs alongside a written description of the event. Other times, panels are put together to show the progress of a tangible piece of work that is also carefully displayed. In viewing these works, children are inspired by the creativity of their peers and also have opportunities to reflect on the pieces that they worked on.
In essence, as a Reggio Emilia Approach inspired center, we believe that learning, including Biblical learning, must make sense from the child's point of view. We trust that if a child's learning is meaningful to the child, the learning is deeper and enduring.