The term curriculum refers to the lessons and content taught in a program. This informs the specific learning standards, lessons, and materials used to organize and teach. Creative movement, open-ended play, and nature study serve as the cornerstones of our program.
The younger the child, the more difficult it is for her/him to sit still for long periods of time because the ability to stay totally still is the most advanced level of movement. It requires mature motor skills that take most of childhood to develop. Observing that a child finds sitting still and maintaining focus frustrating is normal. This reminds us that they need even more frequent opportunities to move around and to exercise the body in order to concentrate again. At Zia Playschool we use creative movement exercises developed by Rudolf Laban, Margaret H' Doubler, and Anne Green Gilbert to help children explore their range of motion within the kinesphere and increase their balancing skills.
As Sally Goddard states in The Well Balanced Child, "to live with confidence children need to learn how to take care of themselves. Part of this is developed through embracing new and challenging experiences--the process of play". Therefore, we're interested in creating and finding spaces for free physical play. Increasingly more researchers are finding proof that children learn best through exploratory and play-based activities rather than teacher directed academic learning or excessive screen time. Children's play has always been their work and until recently the ability to play spontaneously has been a skill most children were adept at...a skill that served them well later in life.
It can be easy to lose touch with nature when living in a city where we are prone to shut out the overwhelming sensory stimuli. However, nature is all around us and is a subtle yet powerful educative element for children. We draw inspiration from the changing seasons for themes throughout the year to guide our curriculum. Our children go outside in all but the most inclement weather to help them become more robust and strengthen their bond with the earth. In this way they learn to delight rather than fear elements of nature such as rain, wind, mud, snow, and insects. Whenever possible we make connections to the food we eat with the natural growing cycles and the seasonal harvests.