From its inception, Beacon Hill Nursery School has been dedicated to creating the highest quality early childhood education experience for all children. The school was founded in 1955 and the founders collaborated intensely on designing curriculum that addressed the needs and challenged the minds of preschool children. Throughout the years, different educational philosophies and trends have influenced the ever evolving curriculum but at the heart of all that is designed and practiced here, the strongest force is the respect for and understanding of early childhood development and, in turn, early childhood education.
The core of our curriculum is heavily influenced by the works of Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and, more recently, by the practice of the schools of Reggio Emilia. Piaget made major contributions to the understanding of young minds with the first systematic study of cognitive development–perhaps, the most important tenets being that young brains think in strikingly different–but not deficient–ways and that there are distinct stages of cognitive development. Vgotsky’s theories differ from Piaget in their emphasis on the role of social interaction with cognitive development and the importance of a child’s community in the process of “making meaning.” These theories are quite happily married in the practice of Reggio Emilia, which is influenced by both the respect for and knowledge of child development as well as detailed attention to the relationships between children and all aspects of their dynamic environments. These theories and other studies, both theoretical and research based, are all components of a rather eclectic web of educational practice. As students of child development, we use this knowledge to construct, design, and implement educational environments that nurture, extend, and challenge young children’s thinking and actions.
Young children are naturally eager to learn and the mission of Beacon Hill Nursery School is to nurture that innate curiosity so that it may develop into a lifelong love of learning. Children who emerge from their earliest educational experiences confident in themselves, empathetic towards others, and respectful of their surroundings become valuable contributors to their communities. The school’s curriculum exposes children to a diverse range of experiences, and with a major city as the setting, the curriculum takes advantage of a wealth of resources. Recognizing that play is the vehicle for young children’s learning, our teachers create environments that support and nurture children’s curiosity, protect and respect their trust in the adults around them, and understand and utilize the learning opportunities that abound in a child’s daily delight in life. Our teachers serve as guides throughout the children’s days and as partners with families throughout the year’s journey.
Early childhood education is perhaps the most balanced teaching practice that exists; while we honor and respect the cognitive accomplishments and challenges, they do not drive the dynamics of a child’s day more than the other developmental domains–gross and fine motor development, expressive and receptive language, and social-emotional. The domains must weigh in evenly for young children, as foundations for later life challenges and skills must be broad and rich for children to be prepared to meet the myriad of situations they will face throughout their lives.
At Beacon Hill Nursery School, we believe that children are competent and natural learners and that nurturing an excitement for learning, an acceptance for diversity, and confidence as valued members of a community is far more valuable than any detailed items of content drilled into place. We strive for children moving onto the next stage of their education to leave BHNS excited about school and learning, skilled at investigation and hypothesizing, understanding the value of and not being fearful of mistakes, and developing a clear, strong voice for discussions. The flood of content will always be present; we want our children to be able to engage, assimilate, and utilize any knowledge they may have gathered, whenever they need it and continue to be lifelong learners.