Methods & Curriculum
The Discovery Place believes that children learn by discovery. Open-ended discovery centers containing a variety of materials are provided for the children to explore and manipulate to enhance learning. Children also learn through teacher-directed readiness activities in small groups for individualized instruction. Free time activities are child-centered with materials designed to nurture personal and social growth.
The curriculum is the organized framework of content, process, pedagogy, and educational atmosphere. The Discovery Place curriculum is informed by accepted research and theory based on predictable principles of development. The program uses a developmentally appropriate, emergent, and multi-dimensional curriculum design for in-depth, integrated learning. Areas of content which align with local, state, and national standards include: self esteem, autonomy, social, cultural, literacy, language, critical thinking, math, science and nature, humanities, motor skills, health and fitness, and self-expression (through art, music, movement, and drama).
Along with the educational standards, our early childhood program is influenced and inspired by current research-based learning theory and practices including:
Reggio Inspired Approach:
Influenced by the distinguished schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy , our curriculum is designed to display this inspiration. In Reggio Emilia, Italy, each child is believed to be naturally creative, competent, and full of potential. Educators are encouraged to utilize research-based ideology where theory informs practice and practice informs theory. Fundamental principals of this approach include:
- Close observation of children’s work and the expression of ideas, thus, allowing the teacher to document the learning process. This documentation is reflected upon to interpret and convey the child’s thinking.
- Child-centered, in-depth project work where children learn through interaction with multi-age peers, adults, and materials.
- Teachers work in harmony with staff, parents, and children while engaging in continuous negotiations and interpretations of their work and the work of children to build theoretical foundations.
- The environment is a “third teacher” where design, organization and use of space and materials supports individual, group and negotiated learning.
- Parents are valued partners who play an active part in their children’s learning experiences.
Roots & Shoots:
A Jane Goodall youth environmental and humanitarian program, Roots & Shoots promotes care and concern for all living things through community projects. Dr. Goodall teaches that “every individual matters, every individual has a role to play, every individual makes a difference.” Through this program children discover how important it is for them to learn about and demonstrate care for animals, the environment and the human community. It is our goal to reconnect children to nature and all living things, to discover the beauty of our world, and to foster stewardship of our earth.
Learning through the Arts:
Working with Arts Partners and the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts artist-in-residence professional development program, our staff has been trained to integrate literacy through music, movement, and drama. This enjoyable program cultivates multi-intelligences, and the many “languages” of a child’s self-expression. The Discovery Place staff received this exceptional training which complements the use of the arts in our curriculum to support learning and enrich children’s lives.
Discovery Place has collaborated to build deep relationships with many community programs that contribute to quality learning experiences for diverse populations of children living in the Wichita community, including: The Opportunity Project, Wichita State University, Newman University, Fundamentals Learning Center, Boys and Girls Club, The Sedgwick County Zoo, Great Plains Nature Center and Hilltop Head Start to name a few. The city also provides many resources for learning, with opportunities for collaboration as well as exploration and study. The teachers, children and families are engaged in ongoing research, inspired by the world in which they live. Consequently, Discovery Place is both a recipient of and a contributor to the culture of the city in which it resides.