Georgetown Hill Early School endorses a whole-child approach to teaching and learning that reinforces and expands upon children's natural competencies and strengths. The curriculum model is called P.L.A.N.; the primary components of P.L.A.N. are Play, Learning, the Arts and Nurturing. Each component serves a critical role in the development of the whole child.
In a child-centered environment, play is a natural springboard for development. As children play, they form friendships and learn to value each other. They use language to communicate ideas, critical thinking to test ideas, and creativity to put ideas into motion. They cooperate and compromise as they gain understanding about their world. They learn sound judgment and decision-making skills. By its very nature, play allows the child to feel successful and powerful. In this environment, active learning is balanced with many opportunities for reflection and personal development.
Learning is a cumulative process through which children acquire skills and knowledge and apply them to gain understanding about themselves and their environment. Children acquire knowledge incidentally through spontaneous play and directly through guided instruction and in-depth projects. Most learning takes place incidentally as a child responds to people and objects that are important to his/her world. The understandings that children develop through sustained, non-hurried interactions within a reinforcing environment become the foundation for constructing knowledge. An environment that is conducive to learning is a challenging one with abundant opportunities for open-ended experiences.
When children are encouraged to express themselves, they sharpen their senses and expand their level of awareness. They interpret the world as they paint, dance, build, sing, and engage in dramatic play. They use their eyes to study intricacies, their bodies to express new wonders, and their hands to explore their surrounding world. Through a variety of media, children develop creativity, original thinking, motivation and confidence. They connect feelings and ideas through sensory experiences that help them thrive in their environment. As they continue to express themselves, they see the world and its people from a more sensitive perspective.
Nurturing is the bridge between what a child accomplishes and how he/she feels about the accomplishment. Without nurturing, a child languishes and development is stifled. When children are exposed to a nurturing environment, they develop attitudes that foster trusting relationships and good character. Relationships are based on communication and trust. The teacher, like the parent, cultivates a climate conducive to healthy and positive growth. In addition, the teacher: encourages responsibility to the self and the group; encourages children to care for their minds and their bodies by making healthy choices and developing wholesome attitudes; provides classroom and community opportunities that develop sensitivity to the diversity around them; provides materials and activities that facilitate universal values. In a caring classroom community, children develop and maintain life-long habits and attitudes.
While the four components of P.L.A.N. are conceptually separate, in an early childhood classroom, they are interdependent and reinforcing. In a child-centered environment, learning is play and sometimes work, art connects a child's internal and external worlds, and nurturing molds a supportive framework that bonds a child and an environment in lasting and meaningful ways.
Our program is designed to create a classroom experience that is non-hurried, non-competitive, appropriately structured, carefully designed, purposeful and challenging, open to evaluation and change, creative and inviting, and responsive to the needs and nature of childhood. A child's emotional and social well-being plays a critical role in his/her ability to learn and adapt within the community and greater world. Children are provided opportunities for growth and social development, creative and cognitive development, and physical and moral development. The child's world is meaningful, balanced, and challenging.