Building a community of children, families and teachers who play and learn together
At Poker Hill School we are a circle of families and teachers that support and learn from one another. We know that children learn through play and support play-based learning in everything we do. We believe that young children learn best when they feel safe, valued and respected. We support trusting relationships with all stakeholders including families, teachers, staff and children. We believe that it is the role of each family to foster a child’s development, and acknowledge that each family’s culture is valuable and should be respected. We understand that the basis for all learning is a strong sense of self. For this reason, we support social-emotional development above all else and work to help children build skills which create a strong foundation in this domain of development. We believe that children benefit from engaging in experiences which act as mirrors of their authentic selves as well as those that serve as windows to discovery about cultures and people which are examples of diversity in our world. We draw inspiration from the NAEYC’s position statement on Advancing Equity in Early Childhood Education. We believe that children who are curious and engaged will learn more from the things and people around them and encourage teachers to curate themes and topics which are of interest to the whole group. We seek to support each child’s innate sense of joy and wonder. We support this by reflecting the children’s interests and needs in curriculum planning and responding to learning opportunities as they arise throughout each season, week and day. We believe that a rich environment fosters a passion for learning and that this environment includes safe spaces, trusting relationships, responsive caregivers and a variety of experiences available for all. We know that the natural environment provides countless opportunities for children to explore, grow and develop an understanding of the world around them. We nurture and support each child’s individual learning path and facilitate their growth and development by encouraging them to make significant decisions about their days at Poker Hill School. We strive to create for children a sense of responsibility both for their school community and also for the broader world around them. We encourage each child to select their own chores, engage in long blocks of free play time, and choose many of their own activities. We support each child’s growth as an autonomous individual within a caring and democratic community and strive to make each child realize their important place in an interconnected world where they can make a difference.
Poker Hill School mission statement:
We support an environment where children learn through play so that love of learning and kindness toward others are the foundations for life.
** We support, rather than direct, learning by providing time and space for each child to play freely, exploring a variety of materials as well as the natural world.
** We believe that a rich environment fosters a passion for learning, so provide open-ended and inclusive materials and spaces which inspire interest, enthusiasm and curiosity.
** We believe that access to the natural world inspires in children a sense of awe, wonder and joy and so we offer long periods of time outdoors for children to learn through playful interactions with the world around them.
** We utilize all of the spaces of our school and grounds, including a large garden, farm animals, a pond, woods and meadows, in order to experience a variety of activities, build a respect for our world, and an understanding of stewardship.
** We teach children to be global citizens by reinforcing the joy of caring for our spaces and by asking all participants to take on roles that develop responsibility for our school community. **Teachers observe children at play to build a shared curriculum, which is focused on cultivating inquiry.
** We encourage children to express their own feelings and ideas creatively and so offer open-ended art and music experiences daily.
** We believe that children have innate abilities, therefore rather than offering activities with explicit academic outcomes, we invite children to explore academic concepts in math, reading and writing through play.
** We provide children with opportunities and strategies for developing healthy social and emotional growth, supporting children in their interactions with one another as well as the adults in our learning community, and we encourage children to talk through their feelings as they arise.
** We support children in building skills by meeting each child where they are at in their own development, encouraging next steps, and scaffolding new learning.
** We support children in building self-help skills with the belief that this approach builds perseverance and encourages children to build independence and pride in their achievements.
** We encourage children to engage in real work so that they see the value of their efforts as well as the outcome of a sustainable community.
** In order to show respect for each child, we allow every voice to be heard and support children in making their own decisions whenever possible.
** We encourage families to engage in our program in ways that feel comfortable and trusting, through sharing talents and knowledge as well as time in our program.
** We foster trusting, responsive, reciprocal relationships with each child and family with the understanding that open communication supports optimum learning and success for each child.