HISTORY

Located in Downtown Pittsburgh, within Thayer Hall, Point Park University Children's School continues to educate children as it has done for more than 40 years. Originally as a lab school, Point Park University Children's School served families with children through the 12th grade. In the 1980's, the school trimmed down their program to only serving families through sixth grade; 1993 was the final classyear for the elementary program. Today, the school is open to families with children from 6 weeks to 6 years old. Point Park also offers a 10 week summer program for children through 6th grade. The Children's School is licensed by the Department of Public Welfare and has been NAEYC Accredited since 1987, and is a Pennsylvania Keystone Four Star Center.

Tucked away inside Point Park University, the staff at the Children's School provide children with a calm, safe environment for playing, socializing and learning. Unique to early care and education facilities, children play outside and ride their bikes on an 8th floor rooftop deck. Currently, fundraising efforts are being conducted by the parents' group to purchase new playground equipment and improve the "green space". The staffs understanding and implementation of the High Scope Theory, developmentally appropriate practices, DPW regulations and NAEYC guidelines enables the children in their care to grow and develop at their individual levels. Small group sizes allow for staff to become partners with parents and to provide a nurturing and stimulating environment.

Point Park University Children's School continues to open its doors to the University's education majors by offering students the opportunity to observe in the classrooms, experience learning through collaborative efforts and work-study programs. In the past several years Point Park University Children's School has also offered workshops in Early Childhood Education to staff of other centers in the area through Project Early Start, a collaboration between Point Park University Children's School and the Education and Community Services Department. Currently, in collaboration with the Education and Community Services Department, Project ECHO will offer workshops where a University credit may be earned in Early Childhood Education from Point Park University. With this project there is also an opportunity for paid internships at the Children's School and consultations to early childhood education centers from Point Park University Faculty.

Point Park University Children's School recently underwent a structural, programmatic and fiscal review performed by the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development (OCD). OCD is a public-private regional resource and management facility that provides its constituents with interdisciplinary education, research, program planning, monitoring evaluation and needs assessments. OCD's final report indicates that the Children's School
"... is one of the best in the commonwealth. Program ratings by independent, experienced observers indicate that Point Park University Children's School is of the highest quality of early care and education. "

SCHOOL PHILOSOPHY
The philosophy of Point Park University Children's School focuses on the whole child. Our programs for learning and growth experiences are concerned with cognitive, physical, social, emotional, affective and aesthetic development. The child's self-concept and ability to interact and communicate effectively with others is paramount to us.


GOALS

  To acknowledge and support a child's playas a way of working and learning.

  To support the child's interaction, which may foster a sense of responsibility, achievement, self-respect and respect for others.

  To develop on-going plans based on the children's needs, interests and developmental progress.

  To provide children with opportunities to pursue his/her own interests and desire to learn.

  To provide varied resources and activities to accommodate individual learning styles and needs.

  To establish an atmosphere of trust and respect while promoting the development of a positive self-identity.

CURRICULUM OVERVIEW
The rationale for our overall program is based on the major premise that people develop in a predictable sequence and at each stage new capabilities emerge. That is, there are "critical periods" when behaviors are most effectively learned and facilitated by various educational methodologies. It is important, especially for young children, to exercise and challenge developing potentials through direct experiences. Active Learning is at the heart of the developmental process. Despite the predictability of development, there are still individual characteristics that make each child developmentally unique. All aspects of the children's day are approached as an opportunity for them to test there emerging independence by taking care of their own needs. This includes mealtime, outdoor time, work time preparation, toileting and clean up time. Room arrangement plays an important role in helping teachers to provide key learning experiences. Many of the key experiences can be practiced and mastered through a carefully arranged, labeled and equipped environment. Throughout the day, children are encouraged to problem solve rather than to be
supplied with solutions. Adults use both divergent and open-ended questioning to aid children in the process. The child helps to create the program. Children are respected by adults who have realistic expectations of the child based upon the child's individual development. (linguistic, cultural and developmental).

The teachers utilize the High Scope Curriculum framework to provide opportunities for child-initiated and adult initiated activities as well as individual, small and large group work in the daily routine. The children are encouraged to think through and elaborate upon self-generated ideas and interests. They are supported in the process of acting on their own decisions during work time. Time is also available for small group work during which the teacher plans
developmentally appropriate activities based upon key experiences. These key experiences are the guides and benchmarks used at various developmental levels. The key experiences can be realized through numerous different activities and across a wide range of developmental levels. In the appendix you will find a copy of the key experiences for Infant/Toddlers, Preschoolers and Kindergarten - 3rd grade.


A Plan-Do-Review approach is designed to allow children to develop a plan. This includes what they would like to do on a given day; which area (housekeeping, computer, blocks, art, quiet, etc.) they will do it in; what materials are necessary; and with whom they may like to work. The children then enter work time.


Work Time is when the child has the opportunity to implement his/her plan. The teacher observes, supports and extends children's efforts during work time.


Review following work time, children recall (recall is referred to as review), a time to reflect on what's been done, recognize choices made and assess actions. At this time, the children are encouraged to share in some way their work time activity. This activity is done in small group atmosphere with the same children and adults participating in planning, recall and small group time.


Small Group Time emphasizes a key experience and encourages active learning. The children are given materials that may be manipulated and choice as to how they will proceed. The children are encouraged to talk about what they are doing with their peers and adults while the adult supports the child's efforts and extends his ideas.