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Teachers College, Columbia University
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Our curriculum is play-based and emergent, capitalizing on children's experiences in the world, their growing skills and competencies, and our constant belief in their ability to construct higher level meaning through engaging hands-on activities. Our approach to teaching and learning draws from several sources of knowledge, including widespread research literature that supports the essential value of young children learning through play. Within each of our classrooms, we employ a curricular style that begins with observing the children and learning from them about their interests and passions. We work to provide a space which supports their participation in curricular decisions.

The preschool children are also able, for a small fee, to take ballet and soccer. Field trips and special events are planned regularly based on children's evolving interests.

Our teachers, all prepared as early childhood specialists, are well-versed at scaffolding learning for very young children "in the moment". Although well aware that there are times when direct instruction methods are needed, our teachers more commonly engage the children in exploration and discovery. Thus, teachers are prepared to respond to the ways that children construct their own knowledge, drawing on their deep understandings of young children's ways of being and learning. For example, as a child finds her name on her bin she is exploring print; on a community walk to the bakery, children learn about sizes and shapes of the various loaves of bread; and as children eat their snacks, they explore colors, tastes, and smells, expanding on emergent language skills and sensory awareness.

Graduate students in early childhood music and art education provide special opportunities for our Center children to engage in musical and artistic experiences on a regular basis.