ECE Educational Philosophy

The Iowa Western ECE Center is based on the foundation that children learn through play. A nurturing learning environment is provided for the children based on their ages, interests, and levels of development.

Our curriculum includes both structured and unstructured activities. Throughout the day, children engage in self-selected activities in the various learning centers of the room. Children also participate in teacher-facilitated group activities. Each day is designed to follow a predictable routine to foster security in the children. Children are encouraged to plan what they will do during the self-selected activity times. They also participate in recall times with teachers to discuss what they have done during activity times.

The staff at the Center provide respectful care and education for each child. Each child is treated as an individual and encouraged to grow and develop at his/her own rate. Staff interacts with children in ways that help them to develop a positive self-image as well as learning to help others. Following is a listing of the areas of the room and aspects of the daily routine. A description of the learning’s for children for each of these is provided.

  1. Housekeeping and Dramatic Play Area
    This area allows children to develop social skills. Play with others helps develop an understanding of family members. Experiencing being: “mommy”, “baby”, or “daddy” gives children an opportunity to communicate feelings. Theme play such as grocery store and restaurant provide children opportunities for developing language, imagination, and social skills.
  2. Literacy Area
    This area includes books, records, tape recorders, folder games, puppets, quiet play, and pictures. Children learn to appreciate and enjoy books and utilize written and spoken language as listening skills develop. Opportunities to write with pencils are available for children who are interested. These early literacy experiences are the key to the development of pre-reading and pre-writing skills.
  3. Blocks
    Physical development, dramatic play, and social development occur as children build with a variety of blocks and accessory materials. Math and Science skills such as size, shape, quantity, and balance are also discovered in this active area.
  4. Art Area
    “Process” rather than “product” is emphasized in the art area. Children learn about colors, cutting, pasting, and creating their own things. Easel and/or table painting experiences are provided daily as well as play dough, crayons, and markers. Children choose from a variety of open-ended activities rather than “projects” from teacher models.
  5. Science Table
    This area includes a magnifying glass, plants, animals, rocks, and nature awareness activities that help children to observe and learn about the world around them. Some classrooms may incorporate pets such as hamsters, guinea pigs, and fish in this area also.
  6. Manipulatives
    Small-table games, beads, and puzzles help children to work on their problem-solving skills, group cooperation, and language development. Activities in this area also assist in the development of small muscles as well as hand-eye coordination. Skills in patterning, colors, and sequencing are also developed in these activities.
  7. Sand/Water Table
    This area includes playing with water, sand, and other exploratory materials. Children fill, dump, and measure liquids and solids. Children enjoy sensory experiences such as wet, cold, warm, squishy, gritty, etc. as they explore materials in this area. Materials available in this area change regularly to keep interested high and to encourage active sensory exploration.
  8. Large Motor Area
    This area provides a place inside for children to enjoy the vigorous play. Large muscle development, including activities such as hopping, skipping, jumping, and climbing are encouraged in this area.
  9. Outdoor Play
    This area offers fun while promoting large muscle development. Children are also able to enjoy and discover nature. Riding toys, running, climbing, constructing obstacle courses, sand play, and balls are daily activities. Kites, sledding, water play, and gardening are seasonal activities that occur also. Children play outdoors daily as weather permits. If wind chill temperatures are below 15 degrees Fahrenheit or if the heat index is around 105 degrees Fahrenheit, children will be offered large motor activities indoors.
  10. Large Group Time
    During this time, music, quality literature, body movement, and non-competitive group games are emphasized based on age-appropriate expectations. This time is designed to build group cooperation, togetherness, and community. Children enjoy songs, fingerplays and music activities as they develop language and communication skills.
  11. Quiet Time
    This provides a time for “winding down” and relaxing before lunch. Creative movement, group games, singing, and books are planned activities during this time.
  12. Meal Times
    Lunch and snacks provided daily opportunities for children to experience eating together and learning to enjoy nutritious foods. Children participate in preparing foods, setting tables, and cleaning up. These activities promote a sense of responsibility among the children. Adults sit with children during these times to model appropriate eating behaviors and encourage conversation. Meals and snacks are served family-style with children serving themselves with adult assistance as needed.
  13. Rest Time
    Children need rest to promote healthy bodies. Relaxing music and dimmed lighting are provided to create a restful atmosphere in the room for the children. Daily rest time provides an opportunity for rest and relaxation. State Licensing regulations require a minimum of one-hour rest time for children who are enrolled in a full-day program. Children will be assigned a labeled cot and use the same cot each day. Blankets and a pillow are provided by the center and washed weekly or as needed. Security items such as a special blanket (small), pillow, or stuffed animal/doll may be brought to assist the child in feeling at ease during rest time. Each family will be required to provide a crib sheet for your child’s use during nap time. We will wash your child’s sheet each week. Please put your child’s name on the sheet prior to leaving it at the center.
  14. Planning Time/Recall Time
    The use of the planning board assists children in choosing activities to do. This gives children a sense of direction and purpose in their play in the room. The planning board is used as a guidance tool for children. Recall Time provides time with a teacher and a group of peers for children to discuss the activities of the day. Recall time promotes the development of language, listening, and memory skills.
  15. Routines of Daily Care (RDC)
    RDC includes toileting, diapering, and hand washing. These routines offer children opportunities to develop healthy habits and skills in independence. The center provides liquid soap and disposable towels by bathroom sinks and classroom sinks to promote healthy hand washing. Toilet learning is not required before children enroll in the center. Staff will work in partnership with parents to assist in the process, as children are ready.
  16. Transitions
    Children will transition from Preschool East to West Classrooms at 8:30 a.m. Children will transition into the Preschool East Classroom at the end of the day at approximately 4:00 p.m. for toddlers and 4:30 p.m. for West. Staff will assist children in facilitating a smooth and easy transition period for children during and leading up to these times. Once the children are transitioned into the other classroom their teacher will communicate with closing staff as to each child’s needs for the day. Twice a year based upon development and age for ratio Toddlers will be moved into a Preschool Classroom serving 3-5 years of age children. These transitions will be made at the beginning of the Fall Semester and the beginning of the Spring Semester upon a child turning three years of age prior to the transition period. Every effort is made to keep toddlers (children age two) with their toddler teachers for at least nine months.