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Philosophy / Curriculum

“In the end, a playful childhood is the most basic right of children.”

-David Elkind, The Hurried Child 

At Capitol Hill Cooperative Nursery School (CHCNS) we view the child as one who is dynamic and curious and who approaches the world with a competent and individual set of learning strategies and abilities. We believe each child has the right to a nurturing, safe, and playful learning environment which fosters social and emotional growth.

Frances Slaughter (Ms. Frances), the Program Director and Teacher, has been preparing three- and four-year-olds for their transition to kindergarten for more than 30 years.  CHCNS is a loosely structured program as Ms. Frances’ goal is to create a fun environment so that kids are excited about school. This type of environment also provides the children with a dynamic environment that allows room for free exploration and discovery. CHCNS offers:

  • Small classes
  • An intimate nurturing atmosphere
  • An elementary school setting which exposes students to older children
  • A certified and tenured preschool teacher with years of experience in the Capitol Hill community
  • A qualified Music/Movement Instructor
  • Learning through play that includes art, music, story time, counting/sorting and a variety of gross and fine motor activities

We believe learning at this age takes place in a child-directed playful environment. Through learner-centered discovery, the children learn to problem solve, strengthen communication skills, negotiate their environment, resolve conflicts with their peers, and develop independence. Children are invited to participate in various projects and activities, but each child is accepted at their current developmental stage. Field trips and routine walks throughout the neighborhood foster a sense of community and awareness of surroundings. Rather than being teacher-directed, learning takes place through the children’s organic expression of interests and curiosity.  Ms. Frances responds accordingly by introducing topics and projects related to that expression.

Guiding Principles

  • The following principles define our approach to learning and teaching within a play-based curriculum:
  • Every child is capable and competent
  • Teachers and parents should not do for a child what (s)he can already do for himself
  • Children learn through play, inquiry and exploration
  • Children and adults learn and play in shared relationships with friends, family members and teachers
  • Children approach learning, relationships and self expression in many ways
  • A child’s learning should not be hurried or forced
  • Outdoor environments and natural spaces which allow children the freedom to move and play transform and provoke creative thinking and support learning

Theoretical Influences

CHCNS is inspired and influenced by the work and theories from the founders and educators of the Reggio Emilia schools. Some aspects of the CHCNS curriculum also resemble the choice focused principles of Montessori programs. These programs do not provide a curriculum for the program. However, they offer a framework for educating young learners based upon the individual interests of each child.