Unique Features of the OCP Curriculum
With the goals of instilling in young children a lifelong curiosity and creating a unique preschool learning experience, we wanted to blend certain elements of other well-known curricula, specifically Waldorf and Reggio Emilia, into our curriculum. As a result, OCP children and families will experience the following unique and enriching curriculum features:
An emphasis on nature. Seasonal themes and celebrations and a nature table in each classroom help children connect with the rhythms of nature. Items collected from the outdoors are displayed as part of the nature table and are integrated into the day’s activities, from art projects to music to imaginative play. Healthy, natural, organic snacks are encouraged, and conversation around the table touches on the role nature plays in the food we eat. Through planting, tending, and harvesting their class’s garden bed, children are better able to understand where their food comes from.
A classroom environment that supports and encourages children to be “young scientists.” Young children make discoveries about the natural world through creative activity and experimentation, a process that closely resembles “play.” We encourage children to see the outdoors as a place to explore living things, such as bugs and trees, as well as the natural elements of water, air, light, and earth. We strive to teach our children respect for all living things and their habitats.
An emphasis on multisensory exploration beyond sand and water play. Silks and other natural fibers and materials are available in the dramatic play area and on the sensory table. A variety of toys in each classroom are handmade of natural fibers. Children help make play dough, goop, and other art supplies when possible, and the discovery area has various items for exploration—fabrics of assorted textures, colors, and sizes; a variety of cones, rocks, leaves, sticks, and seashells; corks, magnets, and tools such as magnifying glasses and penlights to aid in exploring discovery table items. During activities, we encourage children to fully experience the process of an activity rather than emphasize the end product.
An emphasis on the child’s involvement in the daily tasks of family and community life. Children help prepare the snack—making biscuits, cutting and spreading butter, making lemonade—which also emphasizes the process of an activity. They are encouraged to help each other set the table before eating and clean up after eating. These hands-on activities reflect life experience and help the children learn about making choices, helping others, and sharing.
An emphasis on parent involvement in their child’s school experience. Parents actively participate in every aspect of their child’s education, both administratively and in the classroom. Parent-teachers help in the classroom and experience the day with their child and his or her classmates. Parents are encouraged to bring their skills and interests to the classroom or share them with the school as a whole. This unique practice enriches the classroom experience and aids in fostering the relationship between parent, teacher, and child.
Careful presentation of each child’s work. Following a key component of the Reggio Emilia philosophy, teachers strive to display work at several stages of completion and document the process in order to capture each child’s experiences, memories, thoughts, and ideas. This documentation may be as simple as photographing an experience or project; the idea is to make the child’s learning visible—to the child, the parent, and the teacher—which conveys to the child that his or her efforts, intentions, and ideas are taken seriously. As a result, the child becomes more curious, confident, and committed; the parent has more appreciation for and interest in the child’s work; and the teacher’s attention is sharpened and focused.
An emphasis on developing a positive self-identity and respect for and celebration of differences. At OCP, we want children to feel proud of themselves, their families, and their communities, and to appreciate and value diversity. We strive to use and include materials that represent and draw from a variety of cultures, ethnicities, and family structures and equally represent both genders. We allow children to notice and discuss differences and help them understand their meaning. We teach children to recognize bias and unfair behavior and encourage and empower them to facilitate change.