St Helens Early Learning follows an approach to education that is consistent with the National Association for the Education of Young Children's Developmentally Appropriate Practices. Their research has shown that young children learn best through active play and exploration of their environment, appropriate examples and support from caregivers, and nurturing, responsive, and respectful relationships with others. Teachers structure the center and curriculum to allow for individual differences in children’s abilities and interests. Education occurs through child-initiated activities. Teachers are trained to support children as they grow and progress. Development is continually assessed to help teachers individualize the program to suit each child’s needs. We find that children flourish when they have ample freedom to play and participate (explore and discover) in all of the daily activities.
Play is the key framework that allows children to create a healthy foundation for all future learning and growth. It is how young children organize information, make meaning of the world around them, practice and improve their skills, and develop their minds and bodies.
This individualized, respectful, and hands-on learning philosophy is also applied to our high school students, volunteers, and interns. People are encouraged to partner with the teachers to try out their own ideas, determine projects and activities that support the needs of the enrolled young people, and promote the well being of all program participants.
St Helens Early Learning believes that families are the most important influence and educators of their children. Children exist within the context of their unique family’s culture and
system. It is our responsibility to partner with families, to seek their input and guidance, to respect their feelings and values, and to consider their needs in program practices. Family members are encouraged to join in St Helens Early Learning routines, to find volunteer roles and opportunities that support the program, and to see their importance as part of our program.
In addition to state certification, St Helens Early Learning follows the State of Oregon Department of Education's guidelines for high school-based Child Development and Parenting programs. We recognize the immense responsibility placed on them by families when children are enrolled in the program. To maintain consistency and meet family expectations, we rely on the cooperation of all people, regardless of their status, to follow our program regulations and philosophy while on site in the Child Development Center. To protect privacy, all participants will be asked to review and agree to St Helens Early Learning confidentiality policy.