Here are SOMA Daycare, we believe in exposing children to active, hands-on, age appropriate, meaningful experiences. The first three years of a child’s life is the most important developmentally. At our daycare, teachers, planned activities, and the environment are focused around three main domains to help children develop advantageously. These domains include their physical-motor skills, psychosocial, and intellectual. Since there is no one correct way to teach a child, we use a blended philosophy from Maria Montessori, Jean Piaget, and Lev Vygotsky, individually adapted to each child’s needs.
We are inspired by Maria Montessori’s play theory that “Play is the work of a child”. Children learn through their play. Sensory balls, rattles, music makers, busy boards, building blocks, push toys, puzzles and matching games are available to help them develop their physical-motor needs such as gross motor, fine motor, and perceptional motor skills. Children under the ages of three will learn from their environment and absorb everything. Therefore it is important that their needs are met by providing them with stimulating materials. These materials are used in a special way to enhance their learning through Piaget’s theory of early education. Materials provided are balanced between open-ended (sand and water), guided (cooking classes, soccer class, toddler yoga), and self-correcting (puzzles, matching games, shape and color sorters on the busy boards). Their day consists of “free play” in which they independently choose an activity that expresses their interest, needs, and readiness level. Teachers are there to observe and act as interpreters assisting children with their thoughts, feelings, and problem solving. Our teachers use scaffolding, a term Lev Vygotsky used in which they would assist a child to master an activity that is within their ability, that they would not have been able to master without an adult’s guidance and help. For instance, a child may choose to play with puzzles, they understand the concept of the game in which the pieces may fit together, but with the assistance of a teacher who would show them that you can turn the pieces to help make them fit, they will eventually be able to master this new skill gaining self-esteem and independence.
We also use a social approach to learning known as observational learning or modeling. Here we call it “big brother or big sister”. As a mixed age group daycare, we partner our older children up with the younger children and give them certain responsibilities that would help the older child build their self-esteem and independence by helping others. For instance, when returning from an outing, the older child would help the younger child take their shoes off and show them wear they go. Once the younger child is able to do it themselves, they will be given the responsibility to teach another child. We have observed that this also helps them be more aware of their peers and build stronger friendship, not to mention some are now prepared to welcome their own sibling at home!
A child’s environment also plays an important role in a child’s development. Children can easily be over or under stimulated resulting to behaviors such as anxiety, frustrations, even biting. Our daycare is set up with this in mind. As Maria Montessori observed in her early studies of children in a nursery setting, children are naturally curious of their surroundings of which they learn a great deal from. Our rooms are divided in sections of sensory play, dramatic play, building blocks, and a reading nook. This helps children to focus their attention on their choice of play while not getting distracted by their peers playing with other materials. We teach our children responsibility by putting their toys away in the correct areas with pictures labeling where each toy belongs. Materials provided to our children are age appropriate, with purpose to enhance motor skills, creativity, and cognitive learning.
Social and emotional development are very crucial domains of a child’s growth. In these domains, our influences are reflective of Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory as he is one of the influential psychoanalyst and key figure in child development. In Erikson’s Theory, an infant will develop his or her sense of trust and mistrust. Parents as well as caregivers can help an infant develop their basic sense of trust by providing them with consistent care giving them affection and emotional security while meeting their physical needs. We have a low turnover rate with our teachers, providing consistent care needed by an infant that has bonded with his or her caregiver. Our teachers truly love children. Their warm, affectionate presence and personality are the reason why our bond with the children are so strong. Teachers are here to guide and develop children emotionally. Children’s feelings are not dismissed. Instead, they are brought forth as a learning opportunity and sometimes children just needs love and affection.
For our toddler group, we understand that they go through fluctuating moods and energy. Our low teacher to child ratio, gives us the ability to be more flexible in their ever changing needs. Our daily schedule includes plenty of active play (exercise) while still being able to offer much needed “quiet” time. We teach children empathy as part of learning accepted social behaviors, and cause and effect to teach them awareness of their own actions once they are able to understand the concept.
Our goal is to empower children to be life-long learners. We do this by providing a fun and educational environment that will help stimulate them cognitively, physically and socially.
We use the following model to help guide children in learning what is acceptable vs inappropriate behavior:
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