When designing curriculum for three-year-olds through kindergarteners, the unique characteristics of young, gifted children must be carefully considered. Combining several models of curriculum has provided the opportunity to create and develop curriculum that encourages children to be actively involved in constructing the course of study; to integrate disciplines; and to include critical thinking, problem finding, problem solving, evaluation, and creativity. The philosophy of Ricks Center's Early Childhood program incorporates the ideals of the Project Approach, Integrated Curriculum Model, emergent curriculum, and Reggio Emilia. Teaching is based on projects taken from the ideas and interests of the children themselves. Teacher-provided or natural provocations lead to studies that challenge, encourage, and develop the children's prior knowledge and beliefs about the topic of study. These topic studies are integrated with core content areas and often lead to exciting projects.
These projects are unique in that they encompass a small group of children rather than the whole class. The students' evolving understandings of a topic direct the content of the project. These projects develop the language, literacy, scientific, mathematical, and social knowledge of the children in an integrated and natural way. Projects work better in small groups because they foster the collaboration of ideas, dialogue, and problem solving in a more organized and controlled way.
Learning in the classroom is enhanced by specialist teachers who join the children several times per week to teach Spanish, music, physical education, art, and beginning in Kindergarten, Latin.
Watch this video to see an example of a previous class project!