For over three decades Bridges has been inspired by the Bank Street and Reggio Emilia approach. Since 1991 Bridges teachers have been studying and implementing the Reggio Emilia approach and incorporating it into the school’s curriculum.
Bridges teachers, inspired by the Reggio Approach, create and design curriculum for the Two, Three, and Four-year-old programs. In-house curriculum development is known by many names, all of which embrace the Reggio philosophy:
Emergent curriculum involves listening, documentation, and collaboration, a belief that each child and teacher are a part of the inquiry. It is a belief that questions “trigger ideas” and stir program development.
It is easy to start with a teacher’s lesson plan that directs the curriculum path, but Emergent Curriculum starts with the children’s interests. The teacher does contribute and may even introduce the subject(s) that they think are relevant to the group.
The teacher and children develop a plan based on questions, books, and experiences; they work together, in collaboration.
Children learn in many different ways. A child-centered approach fosters learning through play. Do they really learn through play? Yes! The freedom of interaction with others fosters social-emotional development and self-confidence in a child-centered classroom.
Programs with a child-centered approach encourage children to discover their own interests, with their own words, which help define who they are.
Constructivism Theory Approach/Curriculum
Constructivism is a process of reflecting on experiences and thus constructing an understanding of the world. Learning by doing and hands-on strategies promote inquiry and problem solving.
A standard curriculum is not evident in this approach. The purpose of learning is for an individual to construct his or her own meaning, not just memorize the “right” answers. Children construct an understanding of the world they live in.
Standards and Goals
Bridges curriculum is linked to the Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards (CT ELDS) and Connecticut’s Documentation and Observation for Teaching System (CT DOTS). The ELDS and DOTS are organized by domain:
- Social and Emotional
- Language and Literacy
- Creative Arts
- Social Studies
The ELDS and DOTS support and build curriculum and assess growth of every child, thus providing a framework to guide “professional learning choices.” Bridges curriculum plans are constructed through documentation, project panels, and classroom observations. CT ELDS and DOTS are referenced regularly in team and parent meetings to develop individual and group learning goals and objectives.
How does NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accreditation make Bridges a better school? Accreditation is not required, Bridges chooses to be accredited. Accreditation is a rigorous year-long exercise of self-evaluation that involves the participation of National Association for Education of Young Children, NAEYC, Bridges teachers, parents, administration, and the Board of Trustees. Accreditation raises the bar for early childhood programs; it requires accountability and self-examination. During the accreditation process, Bridges strives to meet NAEYC’s 10 standards for high-quality early childhood education. More information about accreditation can be found at www.naeyc.org.