The educational philosophy at the Manchester Family Child Development Center is child centered and developmentally based. It begins with the knowledge that young children learn through their direct interactions with their environment and the people within it.

While most children do go through predictable stages of development, each child grows and learns at a pace that is individually specific. Age is not necessarily an accurate indicator of development. Children at Manchester are generally in the stage that Jean Piaget described as preoperational. Characteristics of this stage include egocentricity, concrete thinking and the explosion of language. The preoperational stage lasts until approximately age eight. Children in the preoperational stage learn best through activities that are inspired by their own curiosity rather than by the direct instruction of an adult. Extensive research shows that young children learn through play and through active exploration of their environment. They construct knowledge through the manipulation of concrete materials and the stimulation of their five senses. Children gain ownership of their learning in a child centered environment through the choices they make during play. Our classrooms are arranged into activity areas to encourage the children to make choices. These centers include but are not limited to: art, science, writing, books, clay, light, sand and water, dramatic play, manipulatives, music, blocks and the outdoor learning environment.

The teacher's role in a child centered environment is that of a collaborative learner and a facilitator and extender of the children's learning. The primary role of the teacher is to interact with the children while encouraging problem solving and language experiences through the use of open ended dialogue and questions. The teacher also spends a great deal of time observing the children during their play and reflecting with the co-teacher, with the children, and with parents to translate those observations into a common language of learning. In addition, the teacher takes care to arrange the learning environment in a way that stimulates curiosity and encourages choices while allowing the children to work independently and in groups. The teacher can then plan activities that extend the interests of the children and promote the exploration of more advanced concepts and tasks. Such planning is flexible and short term to meet the needs of the learning group.

The development of literacy is encouraged through a whole language approach where the children experience the various aspects of language through all sign systems such as music, science, math, art, drama, dance, reading and writing. We do not use formal reading and writing instruction that emphasizes isolated skill development. Instead we encourage and accept the child's best attempt at reading and writing. In this way we encourage the children to take risks in their learning knowing that their work will be accepted and valued.

The curriculum that results from this philosophy is open-ended and based on the children's choices. The curriculum is dynamic in that it changes with the interests and needs of the children. Our schedule includes large blocks of uninterrupted free choice time for the children to explore the classroom and the materials within it.

  • Inspirations
  • Research and Observation
  • Guidance and Discipline
  • Grievance Policy