-~- OUR PHILOSOPHY -~-
Branches Atelier is committed to creating high-quality, creative, dynamic, educational programs for children, families and educators. We are a social constructivist program, inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education.
Based on our fundamental belief that children learn best when their work is meaningful and in a social context, we integrate all areas of curriculum though short-term explorations and long-term projects. Children are viewed as protagonists in their learning and are encouraged to work in collaboration with their peers to co-construct new theories and ideas.
The role of our teachers is to extend and deepen children’s ideas and theories. Through careful observation, documentation, thoughtful questions and deep reflections, our teachers work in partnership with the children to negotiate curriculum, extend thinking and develop explorations. Our teachers are life long learners who continue to research contemporary child development theories. Attending conferences, workshops and classes supports our teachers’ commitment to integrating new research into their daily practice.
We have an extensive media program that encompasses a wide range of materials and symbolic languages. The children use the various media to communicate their ideas, develop their theories and deepen their learning.
Our children are not given traditional preschool materials such as play dough, construction paper and prepackaged collage materials. Instead they are offered a wide range of artist-quality mixed media materials including clay, pastels, weaving materials, beadwork and natural materials in addition to canvases and beautiful papers for use with various types of paint and collage.
“Materials are the text of early childhood classrooms. They offer openings and pathways by which children can enter the world of knowledge.”
We are influenced by the work of various artists such as Goldsworthy, Calder, Matisse and O’Keefe whose work we observe in books and photographs. In the atelier, the children’s work is displayed for further inspiration: clay leaves and tempera butterflies hang from the ceiling, wirework of DNA and kinesthetic sculptures adorn the space.
We see children as active, vital participants who contribute to our community. As part of our curriculum, we visit Temescal Canyon, Tanaka Strawberry Farm, Underwood Family Pumpkin Farm and farmers markets. We believe that extending our curriculum into the community allows the children to become more connected to their community and the community to become more connected to our children.
We understand and value the importance of children having time to connect with nature. Our beautiful outdoor environments give children time to explore nature through immersive experiences with clay, sand, water, natural materials and gardening. These experiences are set up to encourage children to connect with each other, develop peer relationships and make meaningful connections with natural world.
Research has shown that early experiences in programs such as Branches Atelier, improves children’s abilities to develop socially, intellectually and emotionally before they enter kindergarten, and that children who attend high-quality preschools like Branches will have more successful academic careers and develop the social skills necessary to adapt more easily to an elementary school environment.
“LEARNING AND TEACHING SHOULD NOT STAND ON OPPOSITE BANKS AND JUST WATCH THE RIVER FLOW BY; INSTEAD, THEY SHOULD EMBARK TOGETHER ON A JOURNEY DOWN THE WATER. THROUGH AN ACTIVE, RECIPROCAL EXCHANGE, TEACHING CAN STRENGTHEN LEARNING HOW TO LEARN.”