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About the Grant Park Cooperative Preschool
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Board of Directors
The curriculum at Grant Park Cooperative Preschool has evolved since the preschool opened in the fall of 2000 as we explored several types of curricula, approaches, and educational philosophies, including the Creative Curriculum, the Reggio Emilia Approach, Heuristic Play, Emergent Curriculum and Developmentally Appropriate Practices.
Our practice with young children has been most influenced by the Reggio Emilia Approach. During the first school year, the director, some of the teachers, and the education committee members discovered the Reggio Emilia Approach and its fundamentals. Since then, many of the teachers and the director have visited the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and have participated in an on-going project with other schools in the community to deepen our understanding of this Approach. Our continued study of this innovative way of thinking about young children's education has brought a lot of enthusiasm for Reggio Emilia to our school. The theoretical encounter with Italian educators became a wonderful source of inspiration to become, not a Reggio School, but the best school we can be. This approach fits perfectly with our vision of the kind of place we would like for our school to be. We believe cooperation among children, teachers and families is the backbone of establishing a school as a community of learners. The Reggio Emilia Approach has also encouraged us to find our own roots, identity, and values as individuals and as a community.
It is important to understand that we are not trying to “copy” the Reggio Emilia Approach in our work with young children. Instead, our study of this unique Approach, as well as other educational approaches, has assisted us in developing our own philosophy for working with young children.
It is also important to understand that a school’s philosophy of education is different than a school’s curriculum. The development of a philosophy has assisted our school in developing a curriculum. To clarify, our philosophy helps us to understand why we make the choices we make in our work with young children while our curriculum assists us in understanding how to make decisions about the work we do with young children.
Our Vision and Core Values
Grant Park Cooperative Preschool is envisioned as a community of learners comprised of children, parents, educators and community members. Our school is distinct as a cooperative that values integral parent participation. We serve the diverse populations of historic in-town neighborhoods such as Grant Park, Cabbagetown and surrounding areas.
Our school’s identity is framed by substantive commitment to advocacy for young children’s right to high quality education and joyful childhood. We foster an atmosphere of mutual respect in an enriched learning environment supported by many forms of parent participation. We believe that the contributions of all members of our learning community enhance each other’s experiences and understanding.
Educators cultivate experiences that nurture essential qualities such as self-competence, inner discipline, critical thinking, self-respect, responsibility, self-confidence, empathy, and curiosity.
“We are a diverse group of learners, children, parents, educators and community members. Through our relational experiences, we share perspectives in order to cultivate a context for respectful living and learning. We create our identity through these conversations and continue to define our context through working collaboratively”
“We embrace cooperation as participation in the daily life of the school for the well being of our community. As such we are accountable for investing in the continued growth and development of our organization. In order to achieve our vision, we believe that we must persevere together and confront challenges through open dialogue and shared listening.”
Process & Growth
“Knowledge, as we believe is synthesizing information over time. The process of building knowledge is the inherit right of each child, educator, and parent. We collaboratively construct knowledge in a dialogue of open communication, acute observation and deep analysis while cultivating a love of learning.”
“We believe that our differences strengthen our collaboration. We strive to embrace multiple points of view and different ways of knowing.
Our individual voices enhance the integrity of our community and it is through the collection of those voices that we are able to construct new meaning.”
Grant Park Cooperative Preschool’s Educational Approach
The program focuses on the total development of the child including cognitive, communication, language, social, emotional, and physical skills. In planning the program the following three assumptions are used as guidelines:
1. The child learns best through direct interaction with the environment. Learning comes through playing; and activities in the classroom have an essential experiential basis.
2. The child's total development follows a hierarchy of stages and sequences. The program changes appropriately as the child grows and moves through stages of development. Activities are planned which address the current interests and skill levels of the children in any given group.
3. The young child's confidence, knowledge of self, and willingness to risk grow through positive and successful experiences. Small class size enables the teachers to know and plan for an individual child's skill level and to provide assistance so as to minimize confusing, overly frustrating, or meaningless experiences. The classroom environment is designed to maximize a child's independence and to present challenges, which contribute to personal growth.
4. The child’s experiences, home-life, and world away from GPCP are essential to learning. Activities are planned to fully integrate home-life and school-life. These activities will stem from events in the child’s life, in consultation with parents, including but not limited to new additions to a family, illness, holidays, moving and other important life events.
Learn More About Reggio Emilia
Spanish Language Program
The Spanish Language Program is an integral part of the GPCP curriculum twice weekly for each class. The children are engaged in Spanish through song, dance, stories and traditions including a "La Calabaza" celebration at Halloween and "Las Posadas" during the winter holidays.