At the core of our approach is the conviction that children are innately talented and motivated investigators, capable – with thoughtful guidance – of sophisticated inquiry across a wide range of subjects.
Our goal is to cultivate the skills that are at the foundation of a life of happiness and success: cooperative and individual problem-solving, analytical thinking, emotional intelligence and empathy, cultural competence – as well as early literacy and math skills and real-world preparation.
To achieve that, our curriculum is built around a series of explorations that grow out of the children's authentic interests. They are playful, but far more than "play" – combining the power of the children's boundless curiosity with an expertly guided investigative approach that immerses the children in the process and joys of real discovery.
Research consistently supports that child-centered early education – emphasizing authentic interests rather than a rigid curriculum – leads to greater levels of information and skills acquisition, increased self-esteem and, ultimately, higher achievement. We have found this approach allows children to consistently exceed the usual educational standards, and to simultaneously develop a robust self-awareness and a joy in learning that will serve them for a lifetime.
Inspired by Reggio Emilia
We find philosophical kinship and inspiration in the principles of Reggio Emilia, first developed in the 1940s in the Italian city of the same name. Loris Malaguzzi, Reggio Emilia's founder, was a dynamic educator familiar with the work of Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky and other great childhood psychologists. He believed that all children are born with tremendous natural intellectual appetites and innate abilities, and endeavored to create a comprehensive approach to early education that would focus on cultivating them. Reggio Emilia has since been embraced worldwide; Newsweek Magazine has named the preschools of Reggio Emilia as "the best, most innovative preschools in the world." Today, educational experts and neuro-scientists alike continue to find Reggio to be an approach that is most consistent with how children learn.
Informed by research
We regard the integration of current education research as an indispensable part of maintaining a vital, innovative curriculum and school culture. It ensures that we are abreast of evolving "best practice" approaches, and that the school maintains a culture of innovation that attracts exceptional teaching talent.
From the beginning, we've invested in exceptionally accomplished teachers. Every teacher at CNS has advanced training or degrees, is teacher-certified by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education, and completes more than 20 hours of professional development each year. Teachers work together in pairs, allowing the careful observation and authentic participation essential to our child-centered approach.
Collaborating with parents
Central to our approach is the belief that parents should be genuine partners in their child's early education. We ask parents to serve in the classroom and participate in occasional cleanup days, and that one representative of each family serve on a support committee. We also encourage parents to become involved in decision-making by attending board meetings.
Research and experience both bear out that parental participation provides continuity for children and helps them learn more successfully, and keeps the school close to the values of its member families. Plus, parents bring a wide range of talents and resources that enrich the classroom, provide wise counsel, and reduce tuition.
Committed to communication
To support this collaboration, we're committed to frequent communication with families. Teachers and directors are of course always open to questions and comments. In addition, we offer parent-teacher conferences, weekly class newsletters – including photos and a summary of the week's learning – and our unique Curriculum Nights and Parent Education events where parents can learn more about current research and our practices at the school.
Our approach emphasizes the value of each and every individual – based on who they are, not what they own or wear. Research on cognitive and language development shows that the presence of media characters and advertisements in the classroom can be distracting and create competition between students. As a result, CNS is a "commercial-free zone," and we ask that parents ensure that all toys and any clothes with media characters or advertising be left at home.
An inviting facility
CNS classrooms are inviting places, flooded with natural light and stocked with a wide variety of natural and cultural objects to fire the imagination. Project materials and tools are of high quality. Consideration is given to everything that children see and touch, because we recognize that children are aesthetically sensitive and learn from their environment on many levels.
The city's resources – including parks, museums, libraries and historic attractions – are considered part of the school's "campus," and our frequent visits foster the child's feeling of being at home in the wider world. We are also fortunate to be a block away from two wonderful children's parks.