Values, ethics, and beliefs shape our core philosophy, the basis of our school.
- Children have an innate desire for exploration and discovery
- Children learn through play that stimulates creativity and inquiry
- Children construct their individual understandings of the world
- Children thrive in safe, loving environments, both physical and emotional
- Children express themselves through everything they do
- Children deserve a nurturing, joy-filled education
Love for children and early education fuels our commitment, the dedication to our mission.
- We are an independent and nonprofit to uphold a singular priority: children
- We educate gifted children through innovative, unconventional, and progressive design
- We love children and celebrate our families’ and teachers’ cultural diversity
- We employ caring, qualified teachers who differentiate their instruction to meet children’s needs
- We focus on the whole child: cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development
- We nurture divergent thinking
- We prepare children for kindergarten and beyond
- We serve the community through research and parent education
Research, data, and experience inform our practices, the culture of our education.
- We utilize in-depth project-based learning, both independent and collaborative
- We incorporate free play, scaffolded play, and inquiry to engage children’s imaginations
- We maintain a 1:4 teacher-child ratio to build lasting relationships and offer differentiated instruction
- We integrate features of the Reggio Emilia approach for student-centered learning, expression, and enrichment
- We impart and assess skills for kindergarten readiness
- We provide a broad introduction to the world
- We cultivate interaction among gifted peers to stimulate learning opportunities
- We have ten years of success to guide us
A strong body of research supports Bellevue Discovery’s curriculum for gifted preschoolers. We follow the best practices summarized in Dr. Nancy Hertzog’s Early Childhood Gifted Education, including:
• Planning for gifted children’s ability to learn quickly, often with little or no repetition
• Differentiation for growth as social-emotional-physical-intellectual beings over standardization for conformity as cookie-cutter models
• Recognition of asynchronous abilities, the norm for gifted children
Consider the following example, a snapshot of a child’s development:
◊ reading well
◊ not able to recognize all numbers from 1-10
◊ still learning how to put on a coat
◊ kind to friends
◊ lacks stamina for teacher-directed afternoon activities
We differentiate our instruction for such asynchronous development. In other words, we continually adapt our approach based on changes in abilities.
• Higher level problem-solving over basic skills repetition
• Long-term projects over discrete (separate) lessons
• Creativity and divergent thinking over mandated “think-alike” activities
We were fortunate that Dr. Hertzog, Director of the Robinson Center for Young Scholars at the University of Washington, visited our preschool and saw her research in practice.
The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), our country’s leading resource for research and information on gifted education, supports a constructivist teaching model. Constructivist education is characterized by long-term, open-ended, and in-depth projects. The NAGC describes “an appropriate and responsive educational learning environment” for highly capable preschoolers as one that includes:
• Experiences that range from concrete to abstract and encourage children to find patterns and make their own connections
• Opportunities for social interaction with peers as well as individuals with similar cognitive abilities and interests
• Engagement in a variety of stimulating learning experiences, including hands-on opportunities, imaginative play, and problem-solving
• Caring and nurturing child-centered environments that support healthy risk-taking
Bellevue Discovery applies a constructivist philosophy. Every year, we evolve our curriculum, inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach and Project Approach.
Long-term investigations allow highly capable preschoolers to explore more complex subjects than discrete (separate) lessons. Our teachers foster children’s creativity and interests and present a wide range of concepts that become a foundation for future learning. Teacher-directed projects quickly give way to child-directed projects as students develop the necessary skills for investigating, collaborating, reflecting, and documenting.
Project-based learning values both process and final product. Experience and data indicate it is ideal for highly capable preschoolers. Our projects are open-ended, engaging, and adaptable in terms of complexity and individual learning styles. They offer a range of assessments options from informal to formal, traditional to performance-based, and formative to summative. Students take ownership of the process and thus retain information, maintain focus, and, most importantly, enjoy learning.
This approach to early childhood education was developed in Italy’s Reggio Emilia region after World War II. It has been adapted for use in preschool and primary gifted classrooms.
• Hundred languages of children: Children are encouraged to explore, revise, and express their learning in endless modalities (speech, writing, science experiments, counting, patterning, drawing, sculpture, drama, etc.).
• Teachers as learners: “I never thought I’d be going home at night and researching things for my preschoolers,” said one of our teachers. “This is not the standard preschool curriculum!” Bellevue Discovery teachers show as much interest in learning new things as our students.
• Classroom as community: Children thrive when teachers and parents form a caring community for their development.
• Long-term projects: Several months with a topic or theme allows children to experience real-life problem-solving, make connections between prior knowledge and new information, engage in both breadth and depth of learning, and explore their interests and ideas.