Philosophy of Early Childhood Education

I believe that young children develop socially, emotionally, cognitively, linguistically and physically, each at their own, unique pace.  They learn through active, hands-on, sensory-oriented exploration and discovery; constructing meaning through interaction with their environments.  In other words, children learn by playing.

The role of the reflective professional in their lives is to intentionally facilitate children’s learning by providing developmentally appropriate spaces, materials and challenges.  The most effective early childhood professional focuses first on the social-emotional development of children, providing them with consistent, care, love and a nurturing environment that challenges biases and supports problem-solving.

The foundations for my work are derived from such theorists as Piaget, Erikson, Vygotsky and Gardner and such ECE contributions as Reggio Emilia, Pacific Oaks College, Bank Street College, Emergent Curriculum/The Project Approach, Constructivism and NAEYC Developmentally Appropriate Practices.

My contemporary heroes in this work are Bev Bos, David Elkind, Lillian Katz, Fred Rogers, Betty Jones, Louise Derman-Sparks, Paolo Friere, Sylvia Ashton-Warner, Alfie Kohn, Mary Ann Kohl, Anita Rui Olds, Deb Curtis & Margie Carter, Magda Gerber and T. Berry Brazelton.


Philosophy of Adult Education

I consider myself a learner among learners.

I believe that adults, like children, learn most effectively through active and interactive experiences.  As a facilitator of adult education, I employ methods based on the school of social constructivism in which adult participants are provided information and/or questions that stimulate critical reflection and dialogue.  I supplement lecturettes of basic, critical information with one-on-one or small group discussions, exercises, games or role plays that add individual relevance to the content presented.

I believe that all of the participants of my sessions, be they professionals, paraprofessionals or parents, arrive bearing wisdom and experience.  My role is to aid in further empowering them by facilitating the sharing of their knowledge, relating it back to the content goals of the session and supporting them in deriving new meaning which they can then choose to apply to their own lives.

– Richard Cohen