Garcia Street Club is a play-based full-day preschool program. We believe that children learn best through the modality that comes most naturally to them – PLAY! Our philosophy of early education is based on the “Constructivist” approach to learning and is inspired by the work of John Dewey, Erik Erikson, Lev Vygotsky, and Jean Piaget and the educators of the Reggio Emilia region of Italy. We believe that children learn best through relationships and authentic experiences and that the fostering of social-emotional development is essential. Through promoting friendship, respect for others, conflict resolution, and resiliency, we focus on the growth of the whole child.
Our philosophy is rooted in an appreciation of nature and allows us to follow the child’s lead and to create an environment that is based on natural elements and developmentally-appropriate practice. In order for teachers to enter into authentic relationships with children, it is essential to develop the skill of listening. Through listening and observation we gain knowledge of the child’s development and interests. Through listening we also become reflections for children that verify and validate their reality. We believe that a high-quality preschool must serve the development of the whole child and the health of the whole family, and our educational approach works to integrate all the unique ways in which children learn.
Arts and The Multiple Intelligences
In addition to the ideas and methodology inspired by the educators of the Reggio Emilia region of Italy, Garcia Street Club educators also take into account Howard Gardners’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
Gardner’s theory that there are many different intelligences which rarely operate independently helps the teachers of Garcia Street Club guide the children in their preferred learning style and helps inspire a well-rounded curriculum.
We see in each child the capacity to represent new ideas and concepts using many different presentations – art, drama, sculpture, music, movement, construction, speech – the possibilities are endless! Our job as educators is to “set the scene” and give them the tools and environment they need to have the freedom to creatively explore all these different ways of representing their thoughts and ideas.
The Teachers’ Role
At Garcia Street Club, teachers play a dual role. Their primary role is as a co-researcher. The teacher’s job is to learn alongside the children, becoming involved in group learning experiences as a guide and resource. However teachers also must carefully observe and track the growth of children and the classroom community. Teachers are trained to use reflective practices to reflect on what they have learned about themselves and their teaching.
Our Guiding Principles – The Reggio Emilia Approach
- The Image of the Child – Children are competent communicators and learners capable of engaging fully with the world around them
- The Role of the Teacher – Teacher are co-learners and co-researchers, who listen carefully to children’s thoughts and ideas
- The Environment as Third Teacher – Teachers provide children with spaces and materials to explore the world around them in a deeper way
- Project Work – Child-led projects encourage deep investigations of relevant topics and teacher provocations inspire wonder
- Collaboration and Community-building – The success of our community’s youngest citizens is the responsibility of all. GSC partners with Family and Community.
- Documentation – Children’s work (and play) is carefully documented to make their thoughts visible and to show them that their thoughts are valued.
Nature and Outdoor Play
Garcia Street Club values the hands-on experiences that can be gained from interaction with nature and the elements. We allow children to jump in puddles, dig in the dirt and mud, play in the snow, build in the sand, and run in the wind. We garden in the spring and summer, explore our neighborhood frequently, and play in the neighborhood acequias when we can. As educators of the whole child, we model conservation and sustainability and take as many opportunities as possible to share these values with the children.
Culture & History
Garcia Street Club has deep roots and a unique place in the heart of Santa Fe culture. Located on the historic eastside of Santa Fe for 75 years, we are proud that four generations of Santa Feans have, at one time or another, called Garcia Street Club their second home. A deep sense of community is essential for children in recognizing their place in the larger world. As such, we strive to honor all the cultures of our wonderful school community and all of its citizens and to incorporate as many cultural activities and experiences into our program as possible. We encourage families to share books, songs, food, holiday customs, and any traditions that are unique to their family’s culture. Like the educators of the Reggio Emilia region of Italy, we, too, see the education of our youngest citizens as the responsibility of all.