Our Program

This page offers a description of our educational philosophy, describes the classrooms, and shows a typical day's schedule.

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Reggio Emilia

Cushman-Scott's philosophy towards educating young children is inspired by the programs of Reggio Emilia, Italy. Internationally regarded as an exceptional method for early childhood education, the basic principals of the Reggio Emilia schools focus on the strength and capability of the children they serve. At Cushman-Scott, we recognize the collaboration that takes place between children and teachers and see the work they do together as key within the learning environment.

The principles of the Reggio Approach are:

  • The Image of the Child. Children are strong, intelligent and capable from birth. Teachers are deeply aware of the children's potential and construct their work and the environment of the children's experience to respond appropriately. Children's rights are recognized, as well as their needs.
  • Relationships as the Foundations of the System. Education focuses on each child, not considered in isolation but in relationship to with the family, other children, the teachers, the environment of the school, the community and wider society.
  • Three Subjects of Education: Children, Parents and Teachers. In order for children to learn, their well-being has to be guaranteed. Such well-being is connected with the well-being of parents and teachers.
  • The Role of Parents. Parents are considered to be an essential component to the program. They are a competent and active part of the children's learning environment.
  • The Physical Environment. Schools pay special attention to the design and aesthetics of the space. The life of the school and the work of the children are made visible and legible through documentation displayed on the walls.
  • Professional Development. Teachers serve as researchers and collaborators in the learning environment. They meet often to discuss their observations and interpretations of children's work.
  • Pedagogy. A curriculum based on the expressed interests of the children shows value for their capabilities. Along with adult's insights, the diverse materials within the environment support emergent literacy and numeracy.
At Cushman, children are encouraged to:
  • Explore and experiment
  • Collaborate and observe
  • Ask questions
  • Use imagination and ingenuity
  • Take risks and devise strategies
  • Make choices
  • Negotiate
  • Develop and test hypotheses
  • Evolve and grow organically
  • Laugh and enjoy
Links to additional information about Reggio Emilia:


Our Classrooms

While each classroom is staffed with different teachers, and serves children of differing ages, we see the whole school as one unified program. The teaching approach of every staff member is informed by our school vision. Therefore, as a child moves from the South Room (our toddler program) to the preschool program, they should expect to have the same kind of conversations with teachers, the same rich exposure to materials for exploration and expression, the same opportunities for dramatic play and the same attention to their individual and community-based needs. This continuity of experience is something we value greatly.

With that in mind, there are nevertheless differences in the classrooms which are based largely on the age-group of that classroom. The following offer brief descriptions of the individual classrooms.

The South Room Toddler Program

The Toddler Program has been organized to provide care for nine children aged 15 months to 2.9 years. One of our main goals is to help each toddler develop a positive self-image and some degree of independence and self help. The toddler room has been designed to create a secure and warm environment. This emotionally responsive environment encourages each child to move about freely and explore. Most of the materials are arranged on low shelves so that the children can select their own activities.

At this age the children are acquiring language rapidly, and we strive to reinforce this growth. Some of the ways we do this are by encouraging the toddlers to express themselves verbally both to adults and other children, reading books with them, and expressing in words the actions and activities that are going on in the room.

The toddler room is arranged so that most of the activities are child-choice. There is one short structured group activity daily, such as art, cooking, music, movement, etc. We do incorporate the Reggio Approach in the classroom, in a way appropriate to the age of the children. We follow their interests, and often themes arise and are focused for some length of time, such as "cows" or "babies".

The toddler program may be the child's first experience in a group situation and we focus on helping the child develop positive peer relationships. We hope that this experience will provide a solid base from which the children can grow in self-confidence and develop a positive approach to learning.

The North Room and Upstairs Preschool Program

Our preschool program is housed in two classrooms - The North Room and the Upstairs Room. Typically, the North Room serves three year olds, and the Upstairs Room serves children ages four and five. This can change, however, depending on the demographics and readiness of the preschool population in our community. Both classrooms draw upon similar teaching practices and theories.

The program is designed to meet the wide developmental range of intellectual, social/emotional and physical ability which children in this group present. For this reason, all learning experiences will offer a challenge to every child, stretching and challenging them in ways which are appropriate to their level of ability. Further, we endeavor to create learning experiences which are of particular interest to the children, believing that a child's best motivation for learning and experiencing challenges is their own interest.

At Cushman, we feature a project-based curriculum which emerges from the children's interests based on the Reggio Emilia philosophy. Teachers and children work together to explore in depth and develop the curriculum. We encourage children to investigate and communicate using all of their natural "languages" or modes of expression, including words, movement, drawing, painting, building, sculpture, collage, dramatic play, and music. We believe that through exploring different ways to communicate, children gain confidence in their own intellectual powers and their desire to learn is strengthened.

A Day at Cushman

Recognizing the diversity of the children we serve, Cushman teachers often make adjustments to the schedule within their classroom based on the needs of the individual children. The daily schedule might look like this:

8:00 - 8:45 Arrival and Free Choice. During this time, a variety classroom materials are available, such as blocks, sensory materials, the library, communication center, studio, the fantasy area, puzzles, and manipulatives.

8:45 - 9:00 Meeting. This meeting marks the start of our day together. Ideas are shared within the classroom community and children will identify their choice of activity.

9:00 - 10:00 Work Time/Investigation Time/Project Time. Children engage in small group activities that take place in the various areas of the classroom or school (such as: projects, studio, library, games and puzzles, construction zone, sensory table, light table and investigations)

10:00 Snack. Provided by Cushman Scott. Typically consists of a choice of milk or water, a vegetable or fruit, and a carbohydrate.

10:30 - 11:30 Outside/Gross Motor Time. (Weather permitting)

12:00 Lunch.

1:00 Mid-day Pick up for Preschoolers and Toddlers.

1:15 – 2:00 Quiet Resting/Nap time.

2:00 - 2:45 Afternoon Project or Outdoor Time.

2:45 Snack. Provided by Cushman Scott.

3:30 Afternoon Pick up for Preschoolers/ Final Departures for Toddlers.

3:30 Outdoor play. (Weather permitting)

3:30-5:30 After care-art projects, investigations, outdoor play

5:30 Final Departures for Preschoolers.