At The Children's Meetinghouse, we believe that imagination, wonder, discovery, and delight serve as the cornerstones of teaching and learning. We place priority on honoring their importance, and follow an emergent curriculum rooted in play.
Our teachers are encouraged and supported to develop curriculum that places value on the children as creators and contributors, and offers ample opportunity for all students to gain confidence as active, independent thinkers.
One of the Preschoolers brought in a rectangular box that had the words "fairy tale" on it. She wasn't sure where the box came from and wondered if a fairy left it at her house. The other children had many questions about it. What did she look like? Where is she from? Does she live at your house? A teacher suggested that they might write a note to the fairy and ask her some of these questions. The children stayed in the writing area all morning writing to her in their own handwriting and making special gifts for her. The next day "she" wrote back to everyone and we found out that her name was Penelope Jane, and that she was as tall as an eyelash, loved croissants, and was born in Paris. This led to investigations into the actual size of an eyelash and learning some French words. The letter writing and investigation went on for six months.
A wonderful extension of this actually came from the children's families. Some parents encouraged the children to talk about Penelope Jane at home. We also had a few parents that "claimed" they saw Penelope Jane when they visited different parts of the United States and Europe. The parents sent us postcards from everywhere letting us know that she had been spotted by them.
The above anecdote is a perfect example of emergent curriculum. A child's curiosity and imagination led to a six-month series of investigations and learning experiences. It also shows how an interest explored at school can encourage real parent involvement in the curriculum.