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"If you can read this, thank a teacher." —Bumpersticker


The January/February of 1997 issue of Child Care Information Exchange spotlighted the Mia-Mia Child and Family Study Centre at Macquarie University and its director, Wendy Shepherd. Mia-Mia has an extremely well thought out curriculum philosophy. Its principles and practices, designed to promote children's social, emotional, cognitive, physical and aesthetic, development include...

* valuing the child as an individual within the context of its family and community;

* recognising the integrative nature of children's play as it affects learning in such curriculum areas as math, science, language, literacy and the creative and expressive arts;

* acknowledging and supporting children's individual learning styles;

* valuing the arts as symbol systems through which children make meaning, and make sense of themselves and their world;

* providing opportunities for discovery learning through self-selected activities, and encouraging the development of children's abilities to observe, perceive, explore, investigate, imagine and problem solve;

* valuing daily routines such as eating, toileting, dressing and resting as opportunities for learning and social development, therefore ensuring these times are engaging and stimulating;

* respecting the needs and rights of children to make choices and decisions by empowering them to take responsibility for the functioning of parts of the day's routines as well as the care of their environment and materials;

* recognising the need for children to practice skills and consolidate their learning by providing opportunities for repetition of experiences and extension of their ideas;

* designing and establishing an enriched environment that stimulates the imagination, promotes creativity and enhances aesthetic development throughout the day;

* valuing and supporting staff in their work with children and families and in their own professional development.

Following the outlining of these principles, the Mia-Mia parent handbook concludes:

Underlying these principles and practices is the understanding of the need to promote children's independence as well as the ability to work co-operatively with peers and adults in small and large group experiences within a climate free of cultural or gender bias.

For more ideas on shaping your center's philosophy, check out Places for Childhoods: Making Quality Happen by Jim Greenman at

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