Like children themselves, our school philosophy defies any single label. Perhaps our only concession to a solitary organizing principle is that We Believe in Children. We believe they are capable, competent, curious, funny, articulate, artistic, scientific individuals who each have something vital and necessary to contribute to our world.
The first five years completely outpace any other time in a person's life for physical, emotional, social, and cognitive development. In fact, research confirms that it is during these critical first five years that the very architecture of our physical brain structure is established, thus forming the filters for every single learning experience to follow. We understand that the thinking skills, capacity to build personal relationships, and communication strategies children acquire during this time will serve them throughout their school years, for ill or for good. Accepting responsibility to steward a child's early development should not be done lightly.
Brain Development and Early Learning
Our school name "Under the Maple Tree" speaks to both our physical location and the more philosophical image of small beings busily going about the serious fun of living. Inside and outside environments beautifully emphasize natural materials and physical experiences. In the Reggio Emilia education philosophy, the environment acts as a third teacher:
"The educators of Reggio Emilia view the school as a living organism, a place of shared relationships among the children, the teachers, and the parents. The school produces for the adults, but above all, for the children, a feeling of belonging in a world that is alive, welcoming and authentic." (Malaguzzi, 1994, p.58)Our demand for a space and school culture that is authentic is repeated in our intended reflection of the Asian wabi sabi principle which guides our choice of materials that are softened with age and respectful use, improved by careful attention, and offer much more than one single purpose to a child whose imagination can invent a thousand make-believes.
"Such a connection cannot be faked. A common fallacy is to believe an artist can artificially create a resonance with the audience with certain visual cues. Unless the work is a genuine expression of the artist’s feeling, the effect will only appear hollow to the perceptive eyes. Wabi sabi is not a style defined by superficial appearance. It is an aesthetic ideal, a quiet and sensitive state of mind, attainable by learning to see the invisible, paring away what is unnecessary, and knowing where to stop." (Tim Wong, Ph.D. & Akiko Hirano, Ph.D., 2007, THE Magazine)
Reggio Emilia Inspired Education
Wabi sabi environments
What does a classroom look like where children are completely immersed in learning? Well, when you visit Under the Maple Tree you may be astonished by the intensely real work being done by the children and their teachers along with them. We learn about physics by building log end forts and obstacles, we learn how to be gracious by hosting tea parties for our elder friends, we learn about ourselves by fully producing a Story Theater from script to sets and costumes.
"Play presents children with a particularly strong opportunity for growth because it meets the needs of the whole, individual child. All domains of children's development - cognitive, social, emotional, and physical - are intricately intertwined...When children have the chance to direct their own learning through play, they are able to address their own immediate and developmental needs and find activities that are most conducive to their individual learning styles." (Dr. Rachel E. White, 2012, Minnesota Children's Museum)
Making Learning Visible
The tagline "Where Science and Story ignite the Genius in every Child" was inspired by Michael Meade's Mosaic Voices Genius project and most certainly, our own children RaeLani, Zoe, Jacob, and Amanda. We love you very much!
Mosaic Genius Project