In educating children towards and providing them with the love for lifelong learning, we stand by the following principles:
- Community – we believe in nurturing a community based on engagement and respectful discourse, who values a culture of inquiry, creativity, and process. We believe that learning takes place in the context of relationships.
- Collaboration – We believe in a collaborative process based on open dialogue that leads to deeper understanding and provides opportunities for connection and growth. We view ourselves as researchers.
- Environment – We believe in providing children and adults with an aesthetically pleasing and stimulating context, with open-ended materials that prove higher order thinking and theory building. We believe in fostering a connection with nature, through exposure, exploration, and family involvement.
- Connecting with Nature – We believe that all individuals deserve the right to connect, observe, listen, and explore the natural world.
- Striving for Excellence – We believe in an educational community that values intellectual vitality, striving for excellence through an interweaving of administrative and pedagogical accountability.
By nurturing empathy, in partnership with children and families, we will create healthy relationships with each other and the community.
By bridging empathy with curiosity, critical thinking, and a life-long love of learning, we can help foster the sensitivity needed for compassionate action.
Integrating the key concepts of early childhood education within a project-based curriculum created by the children and framed by the educators, we take inspiration from John Dewey, Lev Vygotsky, Loris Malaguzzi, Maria Montessori, and other prominent child development researchers who shared the ideas that education should be child-centered, active and interactive, and must involve the social world of the child and the community. We see our place as facilitators in extending and deepening children’s ideas and theories through building relationships, observing, documenting, and thoughtfully questioning for deeper understanding.
Our curriculum is guided by 21st-century competencies, including critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. Other elements include knowledge (what we know), skills (how we use what we know – through creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration), and character (how we behave and engage in the world – mindfulness, curiosity, courage, resilience, ethics, and leadership).
In addition, our school is influenced by Richard Louv’s work, “Last Child in the Woods.” We seek opportunities to make intentional connections with the natural world through our regular trips to the Richardson Bay Audubon Sanctuary in Tiburon. Through these weekly excursions (OAK class only: ages 4-5 years), children develop meaningful relationships with a special place that changes with the seasons, the tides, and the weather. We are constantly amazed at the different personalities that emerge away from the walls of the classroom.
We believe that the parent is the child’s first teacher and the expert on their child. Families are valued for their bonds and traditions, their ability to play, their commitment to work, home, and community, and their dreams for their children.
We consider the environment as the third teacher, along with the adult and other children:
“In order to act as an educator for the child, the environment has to be flexible: it must undergo frequent modification by the children and the teachers in order to remain up-to-date and responsive to their needs to be protagonists in constructing their knowledge.”
Research has shown that exposure to quality programs like Curious Minds Learning Center improves children’s abilities to think critically, creatively, and to problem-solve independently. In addition, the quality of resilience (GRIT) and learning to appreciate mistakes as a stepping-stone to success is a dominant feature in our programs. Local Kindergartens where our students matriculate include MCDS, San Domenico, St. Hilary’s, St. Patrick’s, Mt Tamalpais School, and Marin Primary, as well as our excellent local public schools.