We know that all domains – physical, cognitive, social, emotional and moral – are intertwined, and that goals within each overlap and extend into others. We prioritize building relationships between teachers and children (and their parents) and creating an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect. We value the home-school connection and provide the support and time necessary for children to transfer trust from parents to teachers through our carefully thought-out separation policy.
Informed by the developmental theories of Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and John Dewey, among others, our curriculum supports children’s thinking. We don’t expect to transmit a body of information from teacher to student; rather, we strive to encourage problem solving, negotiations, and cooperative learning. Children are seen as competent individuals, capable of making choices, sharing ideas, and making and executing plans. This happens within the framework teachers provide in each classroom. Routines are consistent and procedures are well thought out, providing a safe environment within which children can challenge their thinking, form relationships, and construct their knowledge about the world around them.
Play is the vehicle through which children acquire skills, access knowledge and retain information. Our play-based curriculum is designed to encourage children to learn within a context of meaning and to construct their own knowledge. We infuse the environment and activities with opportunities for children to further their understanding of literacy, numbers, arts and science in ways that make sense to them and are developmentally appropriate.
Our broad goals are to encourage autonomous, self-reliant thinking and decision-making and to encourage children to de-center and expand their world-view by incorporating the ideas of other people in their decision-making. We encourage children to attempt to balance their individual needs with the needs of others and with the group as a whole.
In addition to considering the whole child, we also value the important role parents play in their child’s development. Parents are an important part of life at Park West. They assist regularly in their child’s classroom and also serve on one of the committees or the board of directors, which operates our school.