The staff of the NIC Children's Center believes that the early childhood years are critical for children in:
- Developing a strong and positive sense of self.
- Becoming eager and self-directed learners.
- Acquiring essential social skills and developing respect for others.
- Gathering skills necessary for success in formal schooling.
To assist children in meeting these critical needs, the Children's Center staff strives to:
- Build strong partnerships with parents.
- Provide problem-solving opportunities for children.
- Create an environment rich in choice and decision making.
- Provide an environment with both the freedom to explore and appropriate limits in which to feel secure.
- Arrange the environment so children have ample opportunities to interact with each other and practice developing social skills.
Based on knowledge of children's development, the strengths and needs of individual children in our program and the cultural context of their families and our community, curriculum is developed in a grass-roots emergent style.
While the backbone of the program is learning centers, the essence of the Children's Center revolves around this emergent style curriculum, also known as "The Project Approach" – an approach to curriculum that builds investigations based on the children's observed interests. Both teachers and children build the curriculum, which emerges from the children's interests as they interact with each other and their environment.
The NIC Children's Center's philosophy is inspired by the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. Our approach to education is one where children, families and teachers are co-constructors of knowledge. The natural development of children, as well as the close relationships that they share with their environment, is at the center of this philosophy. We believe a child must have control over his or her day-to-day activity so that learning makes sense from the child's point of view.