Why A Village?

Welcome to the first edition of the Village Voice.  This column will address topics in child development and keep you up to date with research in the childcare field as well as what is new at our school.  If you have questions or ideas for future columns, let us know.

In this edition I would like to discuss why we changed from a Tutor Time franchise into The Village.  After ten years of using a curriculum that was mandated, we felt the need for a change.  New research has been emerging showing the importance of the environment on the development of children.  There are recent studies indicating the physical environment in which a child spends most of their time is the most important factor in their becoming a successful member of society.  Environment outweighs challenges such as single parent families, language barriers, low income, even, within limits, poor nutrition.  When immersed in a safe, supportive educational surrounding, children can succeed despite enormous challenges.

We began thinking about what a new, stimulating environment would look like and how we could change what we currently had.  The idea of a village school has its modern roots in the Reggio Emilia philosophy.  Reggio Emilia is a village in Italy famous for developing educational theory after being subjected to tremendous destruction during World War II.  They used the reconstruction of the village as an opportunity to create a safe, fun learning environment which respects everyone.  Today it is a model of peace, respect and educational ingenuity.

The basic Reggio theory is that a stimulating, creative physical environment can itself be the basis of learning.  Curriculum branches off from that environment but is always centered around that familiar setting.  Since everyone feels comfortable in their familiar setting, new concepts are safely introduced and all points of view are accepted and respected.

In our case, we are renovating what was formerly Tutor Towne into the new Village.  It represents a European style piazza and will be the basis for all of our curriculum.  Exploration of language, cultures, music, mathematics and art will all be launched from there.  It is our hope that children who attend The Village will develop an appreciation for other cultures and embrace differences, something that has been noticeably lacking in general American society.

The village concept is also important because of its social implications.  Learning is a social activity.  I am planning a future column entirely devoted to this enormous topic, but for now just think about how much easier it is to learn something in a group compared to trying to learn something by yourself from a book.  Social learning theory is why we have large public schools and universities.  We will embrace that concept with our teaching here at The Village by immersing the student in interactive learning activities.  Everyone will contribute to the education of every child.  Teachers, parents, relatives, friends and community members all have a role to play in the education of each child.  It truly does take a village to raise a child.  We hope you are as excited as we are to embark on this new journey.

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