Our classroom environments are designed to reflect our belief that children are capable and responsible. Materials are neatly organized on open shelves and available to the children throughout the school day. The classroom walls are filled with images of the children, samples of their work and stories of their learning experiences because the children and their interests are the source of our learning projects. Children at our school have rich and varied learning experiences that range from dissecting a fish to answer the question, "Do fish have brains?" to using Photoshop to digitize and enhance their drawings and paintings.
The Warren Early Childhood Center is filled with ethnic, family, cultural and socioeconomic diversity. Diversity of gifts and abilities is also a feature that strengthens our school. By living and learning at a school surrounded by such a variety of distinctive individuals, our students, staff members and families learn that each child is unique and offers his/her own gifts and perspective to those he/she encounters each day.
Our students' families and cultures are appreciated and celebrated by the placement of family photos and student identity displays in the classrooms because we believe programs for young children represent an important transition from home life to school life. Our classroom environments are designed to help the children feel as though school is another home where they not only learn, but richly live a significant portion of their lives.
Our staff believes strongly in what the Italian educators from Reggio Emilia refer to as the Hundred Languages of Children. This belief asserts that children have many ways of understanding and communicating about what they know. While young children are in the process of becoming literate in the adult sense of the word (reading and writing), they are already literate in many other languages (ways of communicating what they know). These other ways include, but are not limited to, drawing, painting, drama, clay sculpture and wire sculpture. By recognizing and honoring the many ways children can know about and communicate about their world we help them gain the confidence needed as they begin their transition to adult reading and writing.
Children are naturally curious about the world around them. They often ask questions about what they observe in the world and their questions should be taken seriously. A project is an in-depth investigation through which children seek answers to their own questions. Dr. Lilian Katz and Dr. Sylvia Chard have written that "...an appropriate curriculum for young children is one that puts a high priority on intellectual goals. By this we mean that children's minds are engaged in ways that deepen their understanding of their own experiences and environment and thereby strengthen their confidence in their own intellectual powers, that is their dispositions to observe and investigate..."