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How We Learn

Kids Painting
Gan Sinai follows the latest research and scholarship on early childhood education and works tirelessly to meet the needs of each of our children, helping them to excel. 
Our Educational Philosophy


Gan Sinai is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. Loris Malaguzzi, the founder and director of the renowned municipal preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy emphasized that “it was not so much that we need to think of the child who develops himself by himself but rather of a child who develops himself interacting and developing with others” (Rankin 2004, 82). Malaguzzi teaches us that preschool children learn best when they have positive and caring relationships with adults and other children; when they receive carefully planned, intentional guidance and assistance; and when they can safely encounter and explore many interesting things in their environment. To provide these key components Gan Sinai follows Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP) and focuses on what we call the PEDI-Approach: Play, Exploration, Discovery and Inquiry.


Some of the greatest predictors of success is through having well developed skills in executive function, particularly inhibitory control (self-regulation), and socialization. That's why, at Gan Sinai, our focus is on teaching social/emotional and cognitive skills. Academic skills are learned through play-based activities. Early childhood research teaches us that play and hands-on experiences are some of the best approaches for learning because of a greater ability to process information. Everything at Gan Sinai is learned through first-hand and hands-on experiences. While your children will bring home beautiful works of art, our learning activities are focused on the process rather than the product.

“Learning foundations are built through play and experience. And we can’t afford to skip that. A push-down curriculum isn’t helping kids to get ahead, it’s simply ignoring the critical role of the foundation.” -Amanda Morgan,

Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP)


Developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) is an approach to teaching grounded in the research on how young children develop and learn and in what is known about effective early education. Its framework is designed to promote young children’s optimal learning and development. DAP involves teachers meeting young children where they are, both as individuals and as part of a group; and helping each child meet challenging and achievable learning goals.

When planning learning activities, our Gan Sinai teachers consider three areas of knowledge:

  1. Knowing about child development and learning: Understanding typical development and learning at different ages is a crucial starting point. This knowledge, based on research, helps us predict which experiences will support children’s learning and development. 

  2. Knowing what is individually appropriate: What we learn about specific children helps us refine decisions about how to teach and care for each child as an individual. By continually observing children’s play and interaction with the physical environment and others, we learn about each child’s interests, abilities, and developmental progress.

  3. Knowing what is culturally important: We make an effort to get to know the children’s families and learn about the values, expectations, and factors that shape their lives at home and in their communities. This background information helps us provide meaningful, relevant, and respectful learning experiences for each child and family.

The PEDI-Approach (Play, Exploration, Discovery, and Inquiry)


PEDI stands for Play, Exploration, Discovery, and Inquiry and is the unique approach to learning and growth that we have developed at Gan Sinai. Click on the image below to view our interactive PEDI-Approach tool.

PEDI-Approach image.png
Process Focused Art


Product art is all about the parents, the grandparents, the refrigerator. It's pretty typically cute and gets the response, "Oh you made a ______." There's a preconceived idea. There's a pattern. We need to march along and get the steps in order. Teacher has counted out the parts. Teacher has pre-cut the tricky bits. First this. Then that. This goes here. That goes there. Add some of these. Teacher adds a magnet. Voila. It's usually pretty difficult to tell your child's work from a friend's. 


At Gan Sinai, we focus on the process, not the product. Instead of asking "what will the children make?" we ask, "what will the children do?" For us, it's all about the engagement, the exploration, the experiment. Process, by its very definition is an 'open-ended' experience. It's you and the media and there are no right or wrong answers. It's literally: go with the flow and see what happens. It's quite possibly messy. It's very often exciting. It's inherently personal. 

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