Miss Carrie’s Philosophy

Miss Carrie has received training in the many different educational philosophies that dominate the preschool world. Through these experiences, Miss Carrie has come to believe that all of these philosophies have something very important to say.

1. The Department of Education and the Developmental Domains

The California Preschool Learning Foundations address pertinent skills to the preschool curriculum. Developed by the California Department of Education and the Center for Applied Special Technology, the Foundations outline the interactions, experiences, and lessons that research has shown to promote early learning and development. These Foundations or Developmental Domains, introduce educators to a concise understanding of the extensive abilities that preschool students attain when granted the benefits of a high-quality preschool program.

The current nine preschool learning foundation domains are:

1. Social– Emotional Development

2. Language and Literacy

3. English-Language Development

4. Mathematics

5. Visual and Performing Arts

6. Physical Development

7. Health

8. History–Social Science

9. Science

Miss Carrie bases all of her activities on these Developmental Domains. They provide the guiding framework from which she plans specific activities. Though most activities incorporate multiple domains, Miss Carrie ensures that every domain is integrated into our activities throughout the week.

What are domains and how were they developed? Each domain targets specific skills (developed through research grants, statewide stakeholder meetings, public input sessions, and public hearings), that the California Department of Education has deemed necessary for mastery prior to entering kindergarten. If you would like more information, please visit the California Department of Education’s website:


2. The Project-Based Approach

The modern project-based approach to learning is attributed to early childhood educator Lillian Katz, author of Engaging Children’s Minds: The Project Approach (1989), which outlined this teaching method. According to Katz, the project method was used sporadically in the United States from 1885 until World War II as a central part of the progressive education movement. She became involved in the project approach in the 1970s and has been teaching it ever since.

Through the project approach — defined by Illinois Projects in Practice as an in-depth investigation of a topic undertaken by a class, group of children or individual child in an early childhood classroom or at home — children are nurtured in an environment that does not place limits on their creativity or enforce time restrictions. This flexible framework is believed to promote brain development by encouraging children to collaborate with each other and solve challenges as they arise throughout their project.

The goal is for children to become engaged in their own learning while educators serve as guides rather than instructors. There is no right or wrong answer in project development, which encourages children to take risks and embrace learning through creative thought. As a class, we collaborate on at least one group project a week.

3. The Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia Pedagogies

Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia are three progressive approaches to early childhood education that appear to be growing in influence in North America. They are built on coherent visions of how to improve human society by helping children realize their full potential as intelligent, creative, whole persons. In each approach, children are viewed as active authors of their own development, strongly influenced by natural, dynamic, self-righting forces within themselves, opening the way toward growth and learning. Teachers depend for their work with children on carefully prepared, aesthetically pleasing environments that serve as a pedagogical tool and provide strong messages about the curriculum and about respect for children.

Waldorf education was founded by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), a maverick Austrian scientist and philosophical thinker. This play-based approach is characterized by a predictable structure, providing children with a dependable routine, such as certain days of the week for set activities like baking or gardening, as well as mixed-age classrooms with the same teacher for multiple years. There is an emphasis on creative learning, reading, singing, and acting. There is also an emphasis on cooperation, and the setting generally appears like a home—warm and friendly, with wooden toys and natural materials.

What is the Montessori approach? This approach, developed by Maria Montessori in Rome in the early 1900s, is child-centered, with teachers serving as guides. In the Montessori school, play is a child’s work. While there is a focus on academics, the distinguishing feature is that children learn at their own pace. There are special Montessori toys called manipulatives that are self-corrective; this means that a child knows if they assembled a puzzle correctly, for example, based on the toy fitting together, not because someone showed the child how to do it.

Reggio Emilia schools are known for a project-based approach, which many preschool programs have borrowed. In a project-based curriculum, lessons are based on the interest of the students. Reggio Emilia programs are also known for documenting what children do, taking photos, making videos, writing observations. Then children and teachers can review what they’ve done throughout the year.

Miss Carrie integrates all three of these pedagogies into our curriculum. While they do not provide the guiding framework for our activities as the Developmental Domains do, they do instill the ideals for which we strive. For example, we address the Waldorf approach through our circle time activities. Every day, we review the calendar, sing a song about the days of the week and the months of the year. There is also a significant emphasis on the performing arts, particularly music because of Miss Carrie’s extensive background as a music instructor.

How does the Montessori approach fit in? Well, we do one main “project” a day. Each project fulfills one of the Developmental Domains. To allow for open-ended play, each child is given their own tray, that they explore at their own pace. The Montessori approach requires for pre-planned materials or “trays”, so, for the most part, these trays are put together by Miss Carrie. Once they reach your child, it is up to them to figure out how they work!

Lastly, we document many of our activities. This targets the Reggio Emilia approach. This philosophy also encourages group collaboration, and we provide opportunities for this collaboration with one group project a week.

These philosophies are important guiding forces to what we do. They all have something to add, and Miss Carrie strives to integrate them into everything that we do!





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