by Zoe Page, Early Learning Center teacher
On a recent tour of the ELC, a prospective parent took just five minutes to say they wanted their child to come to the ELC because it just 'felt right'. This made me consider, what exactly makes the ELC feel "right" for so many YIS families? In developing the center, we draw inspiration from the educators who have gone before us and especially honor the legacy of Junko Canemi who was the director of the center for many years. She spoke of the fundamental importance of relationships between children, teachers, parents and the physical spaces we learn in.
We have six highly qualified staff who are passionate early childhood specialists. The center has a reputation for excellence based on blending the IB Curriculum and the Reggio Emilia approach. We see the children for what they can do and have the training and skills to maximize individual strengths. We acknowledge that children are the highest form of humanity and have much to share with us.
We focus on the present and provide the education children need to be immediately successful. I have been at YIS for eight years as a kindergarten and grade one teacher. Within hours of meeting children in my classroom, I can always tell if they had been a part of the ELC. They look at a problem in many ways, consider it for a while and then come up with many solutions; they respect themselves, their world and others around them.
We build strong connections between parents and the center. We understand and respect that relationships take time, trust and ongoing communication. We work from the belief that by learning and growing together we maximize everyone's capacities.
The focus for the year is to redevelop the creative space, providing intriguing resources which invite children to ponder what is possible and what is new. Our physical learning spaces are meant to be a kind of laboratory; a place for exploration, creativity and wonder. We will be inviting children, staff and parents to look at the central area (piazza), the heart of the center, with new eyes. We know children change the spaces they inhabit, so we wonder how our ELC community will develop. How will these spaces, then, reflect our shared thinking and learning?
The ELC is only 355 steps from the main entrance of the school. We welcome you. Please come share your ideas and insights and let us know how the center makes you feel.