We at Friends ’n Fun believe that children come into the world equipped with an innate curiosity that compels them to understand and make meaning of all that surrounds them. The wonders of the world unfold to them as they explore through their senses, intellectual appetite for knowing, physical pursuits and the desire to connect with others as they engage in developing relationships. The freedom to explore, question, manipulate, experiment, build, create, dismantle and recreate are fundamental to their inborn capacity to live, learn and love. Live with full vitality. Learn with enthusiastic excitement. Love in the safety of an accepting community.
We believe that an environment that presents opportunity for rich, open-ended, purposeful play best suits children’s natural inclinations. A carefully considered environment provides the backdrop for children to investigate and learn with intention, determination, focus, joy and adventure. We believe that it is our responsibility to craft this environment through the professional knowledge of child development, thoughtful awareness of the strengths and needs of the children in our current school community and a protective stand for the value of childhood. We believe that who and what a child is in this moment deserves the depth of our attention.
Teachers at Friends ‘n Fun have observed and worked with children for the past 30 years holding a strong commitment to providing quality early childhood experiences and an immense value of both the individual and the group. One of our professional influences has been the philosophy of education known as Reggio Emilia developed in northern Italy and embraced internationally. We agree with our colleagues in Reggio Emilia that there is a phenomenon that occurs when working in groups is viewed as more than a necessity; but is more often held as a right, a freedom, a significant experience to our growth and development. We are a society and community of people who interact with, learn from, and need each other on a daily basis. Our children and families do not live in isolation – we live in relationship to it all. Friends ’n Fun teachers believe that it is possible to see children as individuals who are supported in a group, who learn with and from each other, and who from group experiences learn about being apart of something bigger than oneself.“A child is born a first time, and then, through the long and difficult process of constructing his identity, it is as if he is born again. In this process, he gives himself a face, a body, gestures, movement,speech, thought, feelings, imagination, fantasy; in short, the awareness of being and the means of expressing his “me-ness” which is absolutely essential for becoming autonomous and distinguishing ourselves from other people and things – people and things we live and interact with from which, little by little, we draw most of the raw material with which we create our own identity. To recognize ourselves and to be recognized. But a child’s most sought-after goal is to recognize himself in others, and to find in others (objects and the natural world as well) parts of himself.” – Loris Malaguzzi
Our educational philosophy is additionally inspired and shaped by the work of Sue McCord. Her “Storybook Journey” approach to developing meaningful experiences for children connects us to the magic of stories and children’s literature. We also seek to explore emergent themes in children’s play that allow us to study in depth their questions and ideas in Project Work, an approach championed by Dr. Lillian Katz. Our studies at Bank Street College reinforces our view that strengthening the individual as an active learner connected to the larger community through family, school and education gives us an opportunity to “build a better society.” We are indebted to Deb Curtis and Margie Carter who remind us, in their beautiful works on the environments and materials we present to children, that we have the choice of “enriching or diminishing our human potential” through our actions as teachers.
Based on these beliefs our mission as educators is to provide an environment for children, families and teachers that supports opportunities for individual and collective growth and learning. We strive to do this through meaningful hands-on experiences that connect elements of new experiences to those that are familiar, an ever-enlarging spiral of learning. These connections are fostered through art, music, drama, mathematics, literature and science presented in an age and developmentally appropriate manner that honors children’s innate abilities. We believe that encouragement to explore materials, experiences, environments and relationships will lay the foundation for future application and expression of a child’s understanding of the world.