Early Childhood

The mission of the Pembroke Hill early childhood school is to provide developmentally appropriate opportunities for children to grow cognitively, socially, emotionally and physically, to their maximum potential, in an intentionally planned environment that fosters a sense of community and a life-long love of learning.

We believe that every part of a child’s day at Pembroke Hill early childhood school is a learning opportunity. The Pembroke Hill school day is filled with opportunities for our young students to construct knowledge through exploring, investigating, questioning, experimenting, reflecting, representing and interacting. Learning happens while children are

  • Playing in our developmentally appropriate classrooms,
  • Exploring nature outside,
  • Engaged in the carefully planned routines,
  • Interacting in small group experiences,
  • Taking part in large group experiences,
  • Participating in rich child centered activities, and 
  • Interacting with their families, teachers, friends and environment. 

The Pembroke Hill early childhood school is influenced by the world-renowned Reggio Emilia philosophy of education. At the heart of this philosophy is the image of each child as a competent, capable and curious individual full of potential. Our teachers honor this curiosity and natural desire to learn by encouraging their students to wonder, ask questions, create hypotheses and search for answers.

Educational research backs the Reggio Emilia Approach belief that strong relationships are critical to a child’s brain development and learning. At Pembroke Hill we know the safety and comfort of warm and receptive student-teacher and student-student relationships are important for learning.  In every classroom teachers create a strong sense of community that includes children, families, teachers and campus staff. 

The Reggio Emilia approach has a saying, "the environment is the third teacher."  The Pembroke Hill early childhood school has embraced this belief by planning our environment with intent.  All materials, routines and activities in each classroom have been purposefully selected to provide opportunities for children to grow, learn and develop.  

Professional Development

In keeping with Reggio’s emphasis on lifelong learning, Pembroke Hill early childhood teachers enjoy many opportunities for professional development. These include:  job imbedded development, opportunities to mentor student teachers, tour schools, and attend national conferences. Three weekly meetings provide time for teachers to collaborate and learn from one another. 

All staff meetings include a professional development component, with a focus of study selected for the year.  Furthermore we have had the opportunity for nationally-recognized early childhood professionals on the project approach, Reggio approach, 21st Century Education and mathematics serve as consultants to our school.

Our teachers have traveled together to Reggio-inspired schools in Missouri, Colorado, Minnesota and Oklahoma, where they tour, attend conferences and collaborate.  Additionally, teachers have individually attended Reggio conferences and early childhood conferences throughout the United States.

The Reggio Emilia Approach

At the heart of the Reggio philosophy is the belief that children are strong, competent and born ready to learn. They are full of emerging ideas and creativity; they are not empty vessels waiting to be filled with knowledge. For all children, especially the youngest ones, this process begins by developing trusting relationships.

Hailed as an exemplary model of early childhood education (Newsweek, 1991), the Reggio Emilia approach to education is committed to the creation of conditions for learning that will enhance and facilitate children's construction of "his or her own powers of thinking through the synthesis of all the expressive, communicative and cognitive languages" (Edwards and Forman, 1993).  The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education is a system designed for all children from birth through age six.  The Reggio Emilia approach can be viewed as a resource and inspiration to help educators, parents and children as they work together to further develop their own educational programs. (The Hundred Languages Of Children International Traveling Exhibit)

Teachers As Researchers

The teacher's role within the Reggio Emilia approach is complex. Working as co-teachers, the role of the teacher is first and foremost to be that of a learner alongside the children. The teacher is a teacher-researcher, a resource and guide as she/he lends expertise to children (Edwards, 1993). Within such a teacher-researcher role, educators carefully listen, observe and document children's work and the growth of community in their classroom. Teachers are to provoke, co-construct, and stimulate thinking and children's collaboration with peers. Teachers are committed to reflection about their own teaching and learning.

Teacher role is to:

  • Co-explore the learning experiences with the children;
  • Provoke ideas, problem solving and conflict resolution;
  • Take cues from the children and provide opportunities for further explorations;
  • Organize the classroom and materials to be aesthetically pleasing;
  • Facilitate children’s thoughtful decisions ;
  • Document children's progress:  photographs, videos, displays and portfolios;
  • Support children in discovering the connections in learning and experiences;
  • Scaffold children in expressing their knowledge through representational work;
  • Form a community among other teachers and parents;
  • Have a dialogue about the projects with parents and other teachers; and
  • Foster the connection between home, school and community.

Representational Development

Consistent with Howard Gardner's notion of schooling for multiple intelligences, the Reggio Emilia approach utilizes the integration of the graphic arts as tools for cognitive, linguistic and social development. Presentation of concepts and hypotheses in multiple forms of representation -- print, art, construction, drama, music, puppetry and shadow play -- are viewed as essential to children's understanding of experience.

Collaboration

Collaborative group work, both large and small, is considered valuable and necessary to advance cognitive development. Children are encouraged to dialogue, critique, compare, negotiate, hypothesize and problem solve through group work.  Within the Reggio Emilia approach, multiple perspectives promote both a sense of group membership and the uniqueness of self.

Documentation

Documentation of children's work is viewed as an important tool in understanding children’s learning and their process of learning.  Teachers use a variety of media, including photographs, daily journals, videos and displays to make the children’s learning visible to the families. Our goal is give an authentic picture of each child’s development:  socially/emotionally, cognitively and physically.

Parents As Partners

We are a family centered program based on Loris Malaguzzi's vision of an "education for children based on relationships." This vision focuses on each child in relation to others and seeks to activate and support children's reciprocal relationships with other children, family, teachers, society and the environment. We promote an interactive community of inquiry between children, teachers, parents, and school community.

We believe open communication is essential element in successful communities. Families are kept informed with a Daily Journal, conferences, a digital portfolio, and a detailed assessment of their child’s development and learning.

Encouraging high levels of family participation is another aspect of our daily lives at Pembroke Hill early childhood school.  Families take part and provide input into the classroom activities through:

  • Guest reading;
  • Sharing a skill or hobby;
  • Serving as a room parent;
  • Assisting with a party;
  • Chaperoning a field trip;
  • Participating in a family meeting to plan a project;
  • Open house forums;
  • Informational meetings; and
  • Surveys.

Continuity Of Relationships

The Reggio Emilia philosophy stresses that education is based on relationships. Research has established that 95 percent of the brain develops in the first five years of life, and children develop best in communities where they feel safe, happy and secure.  At Pembroke Hill we believe children and parents have the right to continuity of relationships.

If your child is enrolled in our early years program, he/she will move up to preschool with the entire class to a new teacher and classroom.  Preschool teachers “loop” with their students.  This means that children in preschool will stay together, in the same classroom, with the same teacher, for both preschool and prekindergarten.  We believe that the relationships children and families develop through “looping” creates the optimal atmosphere for learning.