how children learn

We’ve designed our curriculum to incorporate the core elements of early childhood education that help young children learn best.


We believe children learn best through play and that childhood should not be rushed. Children need time and space to develop in their unique way at their own pace. Because play enhances all areas of development in young children, we base our curriculum on play-centered learning.

Playful learning engages and motivates children in ways that enhance development and life-long learning. Studies of learning through play show that more than direct-instruction methods, play teaches children to be more imaginative and better problem-solvers. Without adequate opportunities for play, children burn out from academic pressure.

Making learning fun is our prime objective. In our classrooms, we encourage all types of play (for example, exploratory, sociodramatic, sensory, construction, imaginative, physical), and, by asking questions or offering suggestions, teachers should take advantage of teachable moments during play. Educators should give children opportunities for extended, self-directed, uninterrupted play, both indoors and outside, and guide and support each child’s learning.


Children need balance. Children learn in different ways, so learning activities throughout our program should be a balance of structure and flexibility; individual, small-group, and large-group experiences; child-initiated and teacher-led; quiet and active periods; and multi-sensory approaches. Each program should encourage children to build upon learned skills and previous experiences, with opportunities to reflect, revisit, and connect.

Activities should be intentional and use the learning centers. Each classroom must implement curriculum in an age-appropriate manner using these standard elements:

  •  sensory-based activities
  •  language development
  • large and small motor skill development
  • creative movement
  • music and singing
  • art activities
  • games
  • dramatic play
  • cooking
  • nature
  • pre-math activities
  • pre-reading activities
  • story and circle time
  • science activities


Teachers should ensure that daily activities and teaching goals are engaging, flexible, and accessible for all children. When considering learning activities, teachers should:


Teaching children to trust is the root of every good relationship. Teacher-child relationships influence young children’s social and emotional development. Teacher interaction helps children build positive and emotionally secure relationships with adults.

The quality of teacher-child relationships predicts children’s competence, persistence, enthusiasm for learning, and academic success. Educators should respect children, listen to them, get down to their level, and calmly implement clear and consistent limits. Offer lots of love, support, hugs, and individual attention.

Specifically, educators should:



Children need a safe and stimulating learning environment with physical space, learning centers, equipment, materials, and outdoor learning to stimulate children’s bodies, minds, and imaginations. Classrooms should:

Each classroom’s schedule and routines reinforce learning with enough structure to provide children security and predictability and the flexibility to meet children’s needs. [See LEARNING ENVIRONMENT]


Active learning takes advantage of children’s natural motivations, abilities, and interests, so hands-on exploration is key to our curriculum. Young children are natural, enthusiastic learners. They discover the world through their senses, exploring materials, moving throughout the classroom, and interacting with one another. They like to ask questions, investigate, explore, examine, and experiment.

Children understand concepts and develop skills through hands-on experiences. Projects allow them to study a topic in depth and collaborate with their peers. Working on projects with other children involves teamwork, problem solving, and critical thinking, all goals of 21st-century learning.


Parent involvement enhances children’s achievement, attitudes, and behavior, and helps them feel more comfortable in new settings. We respect and support each family’s background, culture, values, and traditions, and encourage feedback, input, and open communication. We welcome parents as experts on their children, and as partners in setting goals to best serve their child’s needs, strengths, and interests. We offer an open-door policy, allowing parents to visit and participate in our programs any time.

Parents are encouraged to lend their knowledge and talents to the classroom. Involvement can range from contributions that family members can make from home to volunteering in the classroom. Parents can get involved in their child’s education by:

Sharing a talent or job

Family members can share their knowledge and experience with the children. Examples include playing an instrument, teaching children about carpentry, or demonstrating a skill.

Sharing their culture

Families who share aspects of their cultural heritage enrich the program greatly. They could cook a traditional dish with the children, teach them dances, read a traditional story, or tell stories of their childhood.

Making things for the program

Parents can do projects at home that benefit the children. They can collect materials for the art area (like fabric scraps, ribbons, yarn, paper towel cardboard), objects for sorting and classifying (like buttons, shells, keys, or bottle caps), or props for dramatic play. Willing parents can make things for the classroom such as doll clothes, curtains, or record stories for the library area.