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Our Approach


At the Barbara Vick Centers we believe children learn best when they are actively involved in the learning process.  In our classrooms you will see hands-on, developmentally appropriate, play-based activities and experiences available for the children.  We also believe that all children have the right to be educated in an inclusive setting.  In our classrooms you will see diverse and typically developing children interacting and learning side by side.

We are inspired and influenced by the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy and have incorporated many tenets of their philosophy.  It is an approach based around fundamental values about how children learn. These values are illustrated in different ways in different schools around the world; each bringing their own context and perspective to the work.

And what are the fundamental values of the Barbara Vick Early Childhood and Family Center & Barbara Vick Village?

The Image of the Child – Children are viewed as competent and curious, full of knowledge and potential, and interested in connecting to the world around them.  The child is an active participant in learning. The Reggio approach sees a child as a competent protagonist and initiator, who interacts with all aspects of their environment.  It is with this image in mind that we create our classroom communities.  The forming of a classroom community is intentionally planned and discussed with the children during the beginning of the school year through the design of experiences, problem solving opportunities and discussions that will support the children in building relationships and becoming a contributing member.  This is a skill set that will be used over and over again throughout their lives.

The Role of the Environment – Through the conscious use of space, color, light, displays of children’s work, and attention to nature and detail, the environment serves as another teacher.  The classroom environments are seen as the third educator, after the classroom staff and the parent.

Studio – “Atelier” – The schools in Reggio Emilia include a studio or “Atelier”.   We have created studio spaces within each of the Centers which provide children and classroom staff the opportunity to explore and investigate a variety of materials in a more intimate setting.  These materials can include clay, paint, wire and a variety of writing and paper media as well as natural materials.  Children use these materials to represent their ideas and concepts that they are learning in a hands-on meaningful way; helping them express their knowledge through representational work.

“The environment should act as an aquarium which reflects the ideas, ethics, attitudes and culture of the people who live in it. This is what we are working towards.”

Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia schools.

The 100 Languages – Children are communicating and expressing themselves all the time.  Our job as teachers of young children is to give them as many different opportunities or languages to use to further that self- expression.   We encourage and support the children to express themselves verbally; through singing, dancing, running, jumping; using a variety of materials such as clay, wire, drawing media, paper; and so on. They learn the ABC’s of each material and avenue with which they use to express their ideas, theories and feelings about the world in which they live.

The Role of Parents – Parents are an essential component of the Centers. They are an active part of their children’s learning experiences and help to ensure the welfare of all the children. The classroom staff, parent, and child are collaborators in the process of learning.  To support our belief that parents are an integral part of the educational process, each site has a parent program that works to support and strengthen the role of parents both within the centers and at home.

Teachers as Partners – Teachers are viewed as facilitators of children’s learning experiences. As partners, they listen, document, challenge, and organize children’s learning in a collaborative relationship with other colleagues.  The teacher observes and documents the daily life of the school to make children’s learning visible. Vick teachers use a variety of documentation methods, such as iPads, cameras, tape recorders, and journals, to track children’s thoughts and ideas as they play together or work with materials.  These thoughts and ideas are then shared back with the children as a way to further the children’s thinking about a topic, idea or experience.  When an idea or topic is of interest to a group of children for an extended period of time the classroom team may decide to enter into a study about the idea or topic; thus extending the investigation over a period of weeks or even months.

Documentation - The learning process between children and teachers is captured, made visible and then revisited to support wondering, researching and learning among classroom staff and children.  The hallway boards outside each classroom are just one example of the documentation that occurs.  Parents are welcomed and encouraged to visit the classroom boards on a regular basis to see what is going on in their own children’s classroom as well as every classroom in the school.  This helps us to celebrate all children, not just our own.