At Estes Children's Cottage, we see the entire day as an opportunity for teachers to facilitate learning and development wherever and whenever moments arise. We arrange our environment to spark, support, and guide exploration, curiosity, construction of knowledge and creativity.
Our curriculum embodies current child development theories and early childhood practices, and at the same time maintains a passion and interest in exploring new and progressive ideas. Our goal is to constantly be learning with the children as we implement "Developmentally Appropriate Practice" which caters to the unique interests and needs of the specific children at Estes Children's Cottage.
The Reggio Approach – The city of Reggio Emilia in northern Italy has become famous for its excellent municipal infant/toddler and preschool programs, first established in the 1960s. Their influence on developmentally appropriate practices has been slowly introduced and adapted in specific American early childhood programs since the late 1980’s. Prior to opening Estes Children's Cottage, Cathy and Michelle visited Reggio Emilia, participating in an educational study tour to learn about this form of teaching.
Some of the Reggio philosophies and practices we gain inspiration from are:
The "Image of the Child" as competent, capable, and full of resources
We view our environment as a Co-teacher, using it to guide our practice and the children's explorations.
Relationships are the foundation of our work with children
We observe the children to uncover what they are wondering, and use this knowledge to create our "Emergent Curriculum"
We celebrate the importance of our community, not only the individuals in our Cottage, but also our families and the people and places in our neighborhood.
We document the children's work to gain a deeper understanding of each child and our work as early childhood educators
As early childhood educators, it is our job to learn together with the children; to provide opportunities for them to question, to wonder and to explore. By creating an environment which invites curiosity, we encourage the children to practice, in a natural, play-based setting, the key fundamental skills they need to develop during these early years.
Social Emotional Skills
Strong social emotional skills are the keys to a child's success, and we ensure that children at Estes Children's Cottage have endless opportunities to build self-confidence, independence, a strong sense of self-worth and the ability to build and maintain strong relationships that can last a lifetime.
Language & Literacy Skills
Young children develop language and literacy skills at a remarkable rate. We support this growth by making books and conversations key fixtures throughout our days. We value the children's thoughts and ideas, and honor them by listening and responding with respect.
We focus on teaching children how to think, as opposed to telling them what to think. We encourage children to not only ask questions, but to help find the answers themselves. We provide ongoing opportunities for the children to wonder and to actively explore the natural world.
Gross Motor Skills
The development of strong gross motor skills is vital to many experiences children will have in their future, both in and out of school - such as sitting at a desk, playing on the playground, participating in sports, riding a bicycle, exercising, writing and self-regulation. We provide the children daily opportunities to strengthen these skills through active play.
Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills, the ability to both identify and control small objects with one's hands, are critical for many tasks such as writing, drawing, picking up dropped Cheerios and finding pennies in your pocket. We support the development of fine motor skills by providing hands on experiences such as drawing and painting, and sensory experiences such as playing with finger paint, sand, water and the many natural materials we encounter outside.