"At our school, all you have to do is play, and that's how you learn everything there is to learn."
--Three-year-old Wee Works student
Wee Works is dedicated to providing an environment rich in discovery, in which children are free to follow their own inspiration in play. We foster wonder through a focus on the natural world and an exploration of our senses by providing diverse materials and experiences. We offer gentle guidance in response to children’s passions as they question, investigate, and explore their daily work of experiencing themselves as thoughtful, creative, joyful human beings.
As children move through our environment they learn and grow, empowered by choice. Teachers support the individual growth of each child by engaging and extending their play and providing a variety of stimulating materials. Our day is loosely structured to allow time for children to enter deeply into their activities. We are flexible in our daily plans; we seek to provide rhythm and security while remaining open to unforeseen creative opportunities. We believe children are natural learners and that their inclinations offer the best guidance as they explore and learn about their world. We provide a balance of free exploration time and more structured gathering and large-group activities, thus exposing children to a variety of learning experiences.
We extend invitations to the children in our presentation of the materials, and then we work to support the exploration that we observe. For instance, because we know that the sensory, creative, linguistic, and identity-forming capacities of art are vital to the child of preschool age, we make sure that the children have daily access to many artistic media. We may set out a collection of dried flowers, buttons, and clay before the children arrive, and we are always willing to be attentive to their imaginative needs and to provide ten-foot strands of yarn, electrical tape, and cardboard tubes if they are called for instead. We make sure that there are always many different materials available for children at any one time and encourage them to experiment and mix together different media to learn more about their world and to nurture their self expression.
A day involving paint, shaving cream, shampoo, and corn syrup, perhaps in combination, is a stimulating and exciting day to children. This kind of play embodies our philosophy about children's learning processes: not only is it an experience of pure creativity and joy, it is also a multi-sensory experience, intriguing to fingertips, rich to the nose and the eyes. We believe children are natural artists and scientists and their deepest learning occurs when they create for themselves an experience that involves all of their senses.
We want our children to be joyful and unrestrained; we also want them to be kind and compassionate. One of the fundamental ways children (and all of us) learn about the world and about compassion is through story, and we are devoted to approaching the medium with respect and ingenuity. Because we know that children who listen to stories also create their own, story-writing is a fundamental part of our curriculum. We listen to and record the stories children tell us, and watch with wonder as their imaginations and language take flight.
We believe it is essential that children have the opportunity to observe the natural world and to come to understand how things work and move by engaging with physical systems. We encourage children to experiment with elements such as hot and cold or light and shadow. We make sure there are natural materials in all parts of the classroom to help develop a stronger connection to the natural world. We provide them with materials to conduct experiments in physics, like ramps, water canals, and intricate towers. Children regularly invent new surprising structures with reused materials and teach us about their workings. We go outside in all weather so that the children can make their own observations and connections. We strive to offer materials and experiences that will encourage a sense of curiosity and wonder about the way the world works.
We believe that children have the right to build, to paint, to create, to be outside, to sit quietly, to get dirty, to dance, to laugh, to sing, and also to cry. We work together to make a school where children experience the freedom to do these things in a peaceful and authentic way. We accompany them through their days and provide them with thoughtful and gentle guidance and encouragement.
Wee Works Preschool * 3918 N.E. Hancock St. * Portland, OR 97212 * (503) 335-8319