Our Pedagogy

Best Practices & Pedagogical Models

The curriculum of the Early Learning Community has been designed as a synthesis of best practices and materials that emanate from a full range of early childhood pedagogical models. At the heart of our integrated approach is the belief that the individuals in our community learn best when actively engaged in authentic interactions with their world, and when they feel safe, supported and empowered. Furthermore, we are committed to a curriculum that will encourage students to work for a more peaceful and sustainable world by being stewards of our environment and champions for equity and social justice.

Reggio Emilia

We believe that there is no one best way for children to learn, and that children learn and demonstrate what they have learned through a hundred languages. This is one of the fundamental tenets of the Reggio Emilia approach that was developed by a consortium of thoughtful educators in an artisan community in the north of Italy. For almost half a century these educators have helped the world recognize the power of documentation as a means of fostering reflection and insight. They have reminded us of the importance of art, beauty, and a deep immersion in extended projects as a catalyst for meaningful learning. Mark has visited these schools in Italy and was moved by the ideas and inspired by the children’s work. You will find many elements of the Reggio approach at the ELC in the form of our atelier, sensorial piazza, extensive documentation, elaborate projects and more.


The Waldorf approach to education was developed over 90 years ago by Rudolph Steiner. Steiner articulated a unique perspective on child development and structured his schools around this desire to address the needs of growing children. Waldorf schools seek to educate the whole child through their hands, heart and heads. Schools are filled with organic and natural materials designed to stimulated children’s imagination and creativity. The ELC has integrated a number of natural Waldorf materials that children may explore. We are continually developing learning opportunities that nurture children’s spirit, and we also place importance on music, movement and rhythm as part of the daily curriculum.

Place-Based Education

One of the more recent and emergent pedagogical models is that of place-based education. Originating from environmental and outdoor education approaches in America, place-based education puts an emphasis on studies of the local heritage and culture, as well as local flora and fauna. The ELC has developed our outdoor classroom to include a multitude of indigenous plants. We are supporting local wildlife with multiple gardens that include insect and bird feeders. Finally we are developing local cultural connections that will serve as a nexus for cultural experiences.

Learning from Our Students

There are a variety of other contributors to the ELC curriculum including structural elements of student planning and reviewing from High/Scope, and an emphasis on inclusion, community and peace building that is a focus of the Bank Street model. What we have sought to do is to develop a framework of curriculum, materials and environments that are varied and flexible enough to meet the full range of students’ developmental needs and styles/languages of learning. The principles behind this framework have been researched and refined through extensive studies and constitute a body of what are referred to as best educational practices.

Community’s Needs

However, our foremost concern is the learning and experience of each individual community member. We are constantly reviewing new research, observing and learning from our students, and developing new ideas that will fit our community’s evolving needs. We look forward to talking with you about these ideas and to listening to the insights that you have about how to provide the best environment for all the members of the Early Learning Community.