Philosophy of Care
We believe and trust in the natural growth and development of your child. This belief stems from a deep respect for children as individuals and complete beings. Children thrive in a safe and healthy environment that supports who they are, their interests, and their needs.
It is our belief that children learn best when they have supportive and loving attachments with their teachers, and are playing and engaged in activities which they choose. The job of the teachers is to provide a stimulating, developmentally appropriate environment and support and encourage the learning that occurs. We are committed to the concept that children learn as they are ready, and that if we are alert to signs of their readiness, we can provide them with opportunities to develop in their own special way.
At Fruit & Flower we follow the CREATIVE CURRICULUM. We are a play-based program, in which children are free to decide how they will spend their time. It is our strong belief that children learn as they play and interact with their environment. Literacy, math, science and art are the core learning concepts woven throughout the curriculum; utilizing the basic principle that learning and development occur when young children interact with the environment and people around them. We believe young children initiate most of the activities required for learning and development. It is our responsibility as educators to guide and facilitate this dynamic process.
Each day, teachers prepare a supportive environment with a variety of activity choices. Teachers are there to support learning and to observe and make note of the choices which children make. Those observations are the basis for developing ongoing curriculum from week to week. In this way, activities and environments are a direct reflection of the children and teachers who spend their days in each classroom in the Center.
At Fruit & Flower, we provide a relaxed pace, with a balance maintained between indoor and outdoor-time, quiet-time and active-time, individual or small group activity and larger group occasions. Teachers plan activities during the day based on the interests of children in their groups, taking care to provide a variety of choices to meet individual needs within the group. A typical day includes lots of opportunities for growth and exploration. Your little one might spend time painting, playing with blocks, riding a tricycle, or digging in the garden. Of course, there’s always plenty of reading, word games and singing, all of which help lay the foundation for a good reader. Of course, the Infant Center works very hard to respect each baby’s individual schedule, allowing babies to eat, sleep, and play as their body dictates.
Each classroom contains these interest centers:
- A dramatic play area which includes a ‘kitchen’ unit for pretend play with dishes, pots and pans, pretend food, baby dolls, and dress-up clothes.
- A book corner with a selection of age-appropriate books.
- A block area with materials for stacking, building, and arranging.
- A ‘tactile tub’ with something interesting for eager hands to explore.
- An outdoor area with age appropriate opportunities for running, riding wheeled toys, climbing, sliding, and playing with balls and hoops.
Our children also have daily opportunities to explore art materials, and various items for developing muscle control – from puzzles, legos, and stringing activities for small muscles to beanbag tossing, balance beams, and tumbling activities for larger muscle. Each day, all of our teachers read to their children, and provide them with opportunities to experience music through singing, playing rhythm instruments and listening.
We do put special emphasis on the social aspects of our program. Fruit & Flower is a great place to learn how to make friends, how to be a friend, and how to get individual needs met in a group setting. Each day provides opportunities to participate in large and small group activities. Many of our children establish friendships here, over a period of several years, which they continue to enjoy even after they have moved on to elementary school.
We also carefully plan our environment so that children can feel successful and comfortable enough to take risks as they are ready. While this occurs in different ways for infants and toddlers than it does for preschoolers, it is all toward the goal of helping children understand how they fit into this complex world.
The heart and soul of Fruit & Flower has always been our teachers and care-givers, so we work hard to attract and keep the best people to care for your children. Each member of our staff is carefully screened and selected based on their skills, education, experience and rapport with kids. Many of our teachers hold degrees in early childhood education and we’re proud to say that some have been with us for almost 30 years. This extraordinary level of commitment can be seen in the heartfelt relationships the children develop with our staff members.
The requirements for staff depend upon their level of responsibility in the classroom. Each classroom has a lead teacher who is responsible for the big picture in the room. That person is required to have at least 4 years of education and/or experience with the age group. All of our current lead teachers surpass that requirement by a good deal, and have been here for at least 5 years and up to 20+ years.
The second-in-charge person in each classroom is the assistant teacher, who is required to have at least 2 years of education and/or experience with the age group. We do not have specific requirements of our aides and subs, who make up the body of our staff; however we do expect them to have at least some documentable experience with young children. Many of our aides are long-term staff members who actually have the qualifications for assistant teacher as that position is defined by our guidelines. Our less experienced staff always work with someone who is qualified by the state to be an assistant teacher.
Each year, we are closed to families for two days of staff development. There is a review of infant/child CPR and first aid each year, and additional trainings are scheduled as needed or desired. We also post information on workshops and classes available in the community and encourage interested staff to attend.
Our regular staff members are required by the state to obtain at least 15 hours per year of continuing education. There is a bonus plan in place for those who go above and beyond the required number of training hours each year.
Our basic group sizes range between 12 and 20 children. In the younger groups, children are divided into smaller groups of 8 or less during their activity times. Our ratios also depend on the age of the children in the group. They look like this:
Infants – 2½ years – four caregivers with 15-16 babies or toddlers
Children 2½ to 3 years – four caregivers with 18 transitioners
Children 3 to 5 years – two teachers with 20 preschoolers