The Sharon Cooperative School believes in the benefits of child-centered, play-based learning. We believe that a child’s interest, strengths and needs drive learning. Through effective observation strategies and through questions children, themselves, present, teachers come to understand the unique characteristics each child brings. The critical role of the environment is also very important. Educators understand how to design and devise flexible activities, local field trips and materials, along with open-ended activities and a project approach. Documentation through examples of children’s work hung around halls and classrooms and daily blogposts to families full of pictures serve to make learning visible, spark discussion, extend ideas and further learning.
The Cooperative School curriculum draws on the ideas, skills and experiences of both educators and families when designing activities and creating programming. The curriculum philosophy is aligned with the Massachusetts Common Core State Standards (the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for Pre-Kindergarten to Twelve) and guided by the NAEYC standards. It can best be described as developmentally based and child directed. It is a fluid, dynamic curriculum that is consistently based upon the following principles:
- Developmentally based: children at all developmental levels can access each activity. Activities are open-ended with a variety of possible outcomes. What is important is the process, not the end product.
- Team planning: each educator contributes to the planning of the daily activities in all classrooms. Families are encouraged to contribute their own personal skills and hobbies as well as their cultural and personal identities to enhance and extend classroom activities and to plan enrichment programs that will be open to children enrolled in the school.
- Child centered: With a thorough understanding of individual children’s interests and readiness, educators select activities that are relevant and exciting and that encourage exploration and discovery while enhancing children’s emerging skills. Educators monitor the level of engagement and will extend activities if a particular subject emerges about which the children show a great deal of interest.
- Field trips, special visitors and all school family events are planned to enrich daily classroom activities and to develop a family support community within the school.