The Early Childhood program serves the youngest learners at the school and begins to build the foundation for what it means to be a lifelong learner. In the ECE program, we attend to the intellectual, physical, social, and emotional needs of each child. Our focus is on the development of the whole child through an environment that encourages inquiry, within a malleable process of learning. We instill positive values from the earliest age—integrity, cooperation, respect, and responsibility—and give students the skills to thrive in an evolving world.
The foundational structure of our ECE program is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach and is considered inquiry-based. We hold and cultivate an image of children as competent, creative, curious, capable, caring, strong, and full of potential. Children are viewed as active constructors of knowledge and researchers who analyze their world with persistence and resilience. Instruction, therefore, takes place in the form of inquiries that give children opportunities to explore, observe, hypothesize, question, and discuss to clarify their understanding.
The curriculum is flexible and evolving based on children’s interests and development and features large spans of uninterrupted indoor/outdoor play, a variety of media including literature, art, music, movement, drama, and more. We take pride in valuing and nurturing the relationships that children have with each other, families, teachers, and the community. In the Seven Hills program play is highly valued and the environment is a powerful learning tool for young children. We see cooperation, conversations, risk-taking, experimentation, and joy as essential building blocks for academic learning.
The ECE program is based upon the following set of Reggio principles:
- Each child will have some control over the direction of their learning.
- Each child will have opportunities to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, and observing.
- Each child will have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that they will be allowed to explore.
- Each child will have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.
- Each child’s environment and context is critical to learning success.
- The teacher, parent, and child will work in collaboration to strengthen learning.
- Inquiry is essential to a child’s engagement in learning.
- Learning and play are not mutually exclusive.
- Learning and thinking will be made visible to children and families through ongoing documentation.