The goal of Hoya Kids Learning Center is to provide a high quality, developmentally appropriate early childhood program and high-quality care for all children enrolled in our Center. Therefore, we shall endeavor:
- To provide a healthy, safe, nurturing environment;
- To provide an environment which encourages emotional, social, physical, and intellectual development;
- To encourage the development of a positive self-image for each child;
- To provide learning experiences through discovery, exploration, and hands-on activities;
- To make learning fun so that children will develop a love of books and a desire to be lifelong learners;
- To encourage language development, creativity, and an appreciation of fine arts;
- To provide opportunities so children can appreciate the beauty and nature of the world in which they live, and can learn how to practice wise conservation of natural resources;
- To encourage children in learning how to interact successfully with other children and adults, and how to live together in a cooperative environment which promotes decision-making, peaceful resolution of conflicts, and respect for and care of others; and
- To form a cooperative partnership with parents so that we can work together to meet the needs of each child.
We believe that each child is a special and unique individual. Our Center has areas designed to meet the specific requirements of a variety of different developmental age levels. Hoya Kids Learning Center is staffed by trained, educated teachers and caregivers who love and respect children and provide the best environment and activities to meet our goals.
We agree with Piaget that young children learn best through play. “To understand is to invent,” he wrote in 1973. “Young children learn the most important things, not by being told, but by constructing knowledge for themselves in interaction with the physical world and with other children – and the way they do this is by playing” (Jones & Reynolds, 1992).
By actively observing children at play, our teachers learn about the developmental progress of individual children and what skills and knowledge they are working on. They watch carefully for ways to extend each child’s thinking and learning within child-initiated activities. They pose problems, ask questions, make suggestions, add complexity to tasks, and provide information, materials, and assistance, as needed, to enable each child to consolidate learning and move to the next level of functioning. Although well aware that there are times when direct instruction methods are needed, our teachers much more commonly engage the children in exploration and discovery.
The teacher’s role in a child-centered learning environment is that of a collaborative learner, a facilitator, an extender of the children’s learning, arranging the learning environment to encourage choices and allowing the children to work independently. In addition, the teacher interacts with the children while encouraging problem-solving and language experiences through the use of open-ended language and questions. The teacher also spends a great deal of time observing the children during their play and can then plan activities that extend the interests of the children
Learning centers are set up in the classrooms so that small groups and individual children can choose to explore constantly varying materials related to the study of math, science, art, and language, while teachers observe and interact with the children and the materials. In most rooms, centers include a sensory table for age-appropriate experimentation with sand, rice, seeds and beans, water or other materials, a block center for large motor exploration, an area for use of manipulatives such as Legos and Mobilos that encourage development of fine motor skills, a writing area and art center with a table, easels, and a changing selection of writing and drawing implements and molding materials to maintain attention, a drama/housekeeping center, and a quiet, comfortable book corner. Topics of study are often carried outside to one of our two outdoor play areas or on community walks through our historic campus neighborhood.
It is our goal to make every activity at each learning center in every classroom Child-Centered, Play-Based, Open-Ended, Process-Oriented, and Developmentally Appropriate at all times. We know that in elementary school and beyond, teachers will have specific outcomes in mind when they create an activity or give an assignment. In contrast, young children’s time in a high-quality early childhood setting should be structured to maximize their opportunities for open-ended play with engaging, developmentally appropriate toys and materials.
We view curriculum as everything that happens during our time with children. We believe that each moment offers opportunities to explore relationships and to create a community that nurtures children, teachers, and families. Each moment holds a range of feelings and interests. There are always questions to pursue, hypotheses to investigate, and discoveries to celebrate. Curriculum happens all day: in every routine, action, interaction, and setting. In fact, we believe that the environment—whether indoors, on the playground, in the neighborhood, or on GU’s richly diverse campus—is each child’s third teacher (the first two being parents and classroom teachers).
We wholeheartedly believe that children’s play is not an alternative to learning, but is the way children learn. Children construct their own knowledge; teachers facilitate that process with guidance and support.
- Piaget, J. The Child and Reality: Problems of Genetic Psychology. New York: Grossman Publishers, 1973.
- Jones, E. & Reynolds, G. The play’s the thing: Teachers’ roles in children’s play. New York: Teachers College Press, 1992.
- Bredekamp, Sue, and Carol Copple. Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1997.
- Botanic Garden Children’s Center, Cambridge, MA: http://www.botanic-gardens.org/teaching_staff.html
Hoya Kids Learning Center follows guidelines established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The ratio between staff and children and the group size does not exceed the following NAEYC guidelines:
18 months to 2½ years (Busy Bees) – 1:4 with a group size of 8 or less
2½ years to 3½ years (Buttercups) – 1:6 with a group size of 12 or less
3½ years to 5 years (Koalas) – 1:9 with a group size of 18 or less
Jane L. Banister is the Director of Hoya Kids Learning Center. She has been with HKLC since January 2000. Before coming to Georgetown University she taught and directed a variety of employer-sponsored Early Childhood programs. She has worked professionally with children for more than 20 years, but young children have captured her heart for many more. She believes that this is the time of building that ever-important foundation for life – positive self-esteem, a love of exploration, limitless curiosity – the list goes on. She feels honored to be a part of their lives during this time. Being on a University campus, she is very interested in utilizing the resources and diverse talents on campus to enrich the program and increase its value to clients as well as Center staff. Jane has bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Family Relations from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Program Administration from George Washington University at Mount Vernon College.
Our Center is also staffed by an outstanding group of dedicated teachers and professional caregivers. All teachers at HKLC have an enthusiasm for teaching young children, a basic foundation in child development, an appreciation for each child’s individuality and an ability to stimulate a child’s natural creativity and curiosity. They are also be sensitive to each child’s needs and responsively involved with children. Their understanding of the needs of working parents and their ability to collaborate for the benefit of the children is an essential part of their unique qualifications. Our staff receives ongoing professional development training and attends available workshops, courses, and consultations.
Our staff believes that a cooperative relationship is essential between the Center and parents so that a quality program can be provided for all children. Teachers will keep parents informed about their child’s daily activities and developmental achievements; likewise, teachers will seek information about your child’s daily activities at home, developmental achievements and behaviors observed out of school, and anything that may affect your child’s behavior at school (including but not limited to parents business or personal travel, loved ones planning to visit your home, important family events, upcoming changes in the household like moves or pregnancies, and more).
Hoya Kids also relies on a number of part-time employees who help set up the Center each morning, maintain cleanliness and safety in the classrooms throughout the day, and clean up and reorganize the Center before closing each evening. Many of the part-time employees are GU students. They are energetic, engaging and fascinating to the children; they bring different perspectives, share new ideas, and provide able assistance to the full-time teaching staff.