Our focus is to develop a strong sense of worth in every child that comes through the doors by promoting a belief in themselves as capable learners with valuable opinions and ideas.
Our value base derives from a strong respect for childhood and the recognition that children are natural explorers and experimenters, capable of constructing learning and knowledge. We offer an environment, both within the school and larger community, that affords endless possibilities for creativity, imagination, representation and problem solving.
We firmly believe that each child should be respected as an individual and that the education of young children is a three-way partnership of child, parent and teacher.
Durango Early learning Center adopts a pro social approach to discipline. We don’t have “time out” but instead suggest a “quiet or thinking time”. Punishment is not a concept we embrace, we prefer to use guidance and support. Our aim is to engender care for each other and our environment.
The teachers are all involved in the curriculum planning, the scheduling and the maintenance of the school grounds. We also operate a mentoring system where the three senior teachers (Director, Assistant Director and the Summer Camp Director) are “buddied” with individual teachers. They are responsible for the teacher’s evaluation as well as acting as a guide and support.
Open Door Policy ~
Two formal parent/teacher conferences a year.
Every child has a personal portfolio.
We have an active Parents Supporting Students and Teachers Committee. Each classroom has a room parent who involves themselves in the planning of field trips, socials and specific projects within the individual classroom.
As we often have children with particular learning needs, the teachers ensure, with the guidance of the therapist, that their activities are differentiated in order that each child is positively challenged and no child is singled out.
DELC also engages expertise of parents in mini training sessions, for example training on children’s yoga or healthy diets. Parents who have children with chronic conditions are also invited to address the staff to explain the condition (this is outside of the health plan), in the past we have found that by doing this the parents feel more involved and valued.
Parental Involvement ~
One of the policies of the school is that each family gives a minimum 12 hours per year in a voluntary capacity.
We have a PTA where room parents work closely with the class teachers and of course there are always fund raising ventures, general maintenance and care as well as sharing skills and interests. Input and ideas from parents are always welcome. We like to think of ourselves as a community that grows and learns together.
Board & Parent Governance ~
DELC has a motivated Board of Directors composed of 7 parents and 1 community member who ensures that any decision made comply with the conflict of interest policy. The board is governed by the by-laws and meets monthly to review financials and discuss policies.
The following was submitted by a parent as a piece of advice:
Things I learned as a DELC parent
The Drop and Dash: When your child is clinging and crying at drop-off – and maybe you’re crying too, at the pain of separation – be grateful for the teacher who opens her arms to take your child. Her compassion will allow you to leave with a lighter heart.
Respect the wisdom: The staff and director have an astounding cumulative knowledge, such as: who is afraid of the potty and why; the reason they draw those backward letters; and which activities fill your child with joy. Trust the teachers and learn from them.
Give and receive: The Parent Hours policy may seem like a burden at first, but you may find that if you give your time and energy and unique talents to the school, you and your child will feel happier and more secure. When you become immersed this way, the school feels more like an extended family who shares in the joys and challenges of co-parenting.
Take time to play: Yes, it’s hard to schedule and often rushed, but nothing will ease your work-day stress like a visit or field trip with your child. You will be treated like a rock star when you stop by to help with an activity or host a little party. The children’s joy and enthusiasm in little things will lift your spirits and keep life in perspective.
Let go: Release anxiety and know your child is loved and safe. Those little toddlers in the Purple Room – who nap for hours and can barely walk – three years from now may be swimming in the Animas, hiking all around town, dealing with downpours and traffic or who-knows-what. The teachers will love and protect them, and give them challenges that allow them to stretch and grow.
Be grateful. The preschool years are magical. They form a base of security, self-esteem, curiosity and social skills. Durango Early Learning Center is more than babysitting: It’s an early-development school with caring teachers. I’ll always feel blessed that my family was a part of it.