Several years ago I read the phrase "Woven Philosophy" and fell in love.
I have grown to embrace the phrase and pride in the fact that our preschool isn't labelled under any specific curriculum or philosophy. The children and program are continuously growing and changing. This means that our approach, environment, and opportunities should be changing along with them. Instead of saying we are Montessori, Waldorf, Play-based, High Scope, Reggio Inspired or any other system of teaching, we belong to a Woven Philosophy. A method that takes pieces and parts from any philosophy to fit with the children's changing goals and growth.
I love aspects of all of these philosophies and many schools do follow them exclusively and that works for them! I don't feel there is a need in our community (or for myself) to create a focus or label for our preschool.
If you put two adults and twelve children into a room together, you are going to have so many different learning styles, strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and interests. People say variety is the spice of life and I think this is true in the classroom. If I only offer activities in a certain way, then I am possibly excluding certain children who need me to present it in a different way. Some children are going to miss out on certain skills if they are not interested in the activities offered, unless I encourage them through multiple approaches.
Intention and Reflection are the most important pieces to making my work successful. If I am not constantly reflecting on my day, conversations, interactions and activities, then I will never know what is working for my current group. I then need to intentionally plan the environment and routines based on the children's personalities, learning styles, personal goals, and relationships with their classmates.
Know the children and their backgrounds.
Know the families and community.
Be thoughtful about the environment.
Be thoughtful about the materials.
Find a balance that meets the needs of the group you are with.
Here are three of my favorite blog posts that demonstrate further how being intentional and reflecting make a difference in working with children.
Not Just Cute: Intentional Deficit Disorder
"Consider what you really hope for and turn that into intention. Use your intentions and purposes as filters. We can simplify our classrooms and our homes by knowing our intentions and living and teaching by them. Begin to recognize that we don’t have to do everything.
Interaction Imagination: Do Templates Kill Creativity?
"Can templates be a skeleton for children to hang their own creative skins on? Or do templates kill creativity?" -Suzanne Axelson (Interaction Imagination)
Child Central Station: Sometimes We Craft.
"I have spent a lot of time in my journey has an early childhood educator exploring, growing, and learning, coming to conclusions of what I believe to be true, and the best path for the children I work with." -Amy Ahola (Child Central Station)