Karen Slattery Educational Research Center for Child Development
The Slattery Center is accredited by the National Association of Young Children (NAEYC) and follows NAEYC's Developmentally Appropriate Practices, based on the best current research and theory in child development and curriculum. The Center's staff works as a collaborative team, continuously revising and creating a developmentally appropriate and enriched children's curriculum. Thematic units are presented and correlate with each group's developmental levels and interests. Themes, also know as curriculum projects, empower children to become independent thinkers, creative problem-solvers, and to learn through investigation and discovery. Building on children's interests and strengths, motivation is high and attention span increases. This approach correlates with the latest research on brain development and early learning.
Thematic units meet children's needs through group and individualized activities, and indoor and outdoor experiences, which stimulate investigation (according to each group's developmental levels) in the areas of language and literature, music and movement, creating expressive arts, block building, dramatic play, science, woodworking, and cooking. The program is carefully structured to enhance children's self-esteem and to develop pre-reading and pre-math skills. A children's library fosters enthusiasm and skill in reading comprehension and storytelling. Parent participation is encouraged.
Developmentally Appropriate: It is proven that young children learn best and enjoy school more in an environment that provides activities and learning opportunities that match their interests and developmental level. Young children are active learners and get the most benefit from activities that are multi-sensory and process-oriented; therefore, worksheets and dittos are never used in our center. With the guidance of teachers, children are encouraged to experiment safely with art media, manipulatives, science tools and equipment, etc. in teacher- directed and child-initiated activities, to encourage divergent thinking, to help children discover their own capabilities, to learn to express ideas in concrete ways and to develop and refine skills. "Academic" skills such as numbers, letter learning, writing, reading, etc. are built into the curriculum through activities that are contextually meaningful and appropriate for the preschool learner.
The following are excerpts from the National Association for the Education of Young Children's position statement on developmentally appropriate education:
"Domains of children's development – physical, social, emotional, and cognitive- are closely related. Development in one domain influences the others."
"Development occurs in a relatively orderly sequence, with later abilities, skills, and knowledge building on those already acquired."
"Development proceeds at varying rates from child to child as well as unevenly within different areas of each child's functioning."
"Children are active learners, drawing on direct physical and social experience as well as culturally transmitted knowledge to construct their own understandings of the world around them."
Children are encouraged to learn and develop at his/her own rate, and are never pushed to reach developmental milestones or acquire academic skills.