Jean Piaget’s Philosophies

Piaget understood children create ideas, actively construct their own knowledge, that learning occurs when children create products (artifacts), that children are more likely to be engaged in learning when artifacts are personally relevant and meaningful.

In studying the cognitive development of children and adolescents, Piaget identified four major stages (see diagram to the left). Piaget believed children pass through phases to advance to the next level of development. In each stage, children demonstrate new intellectual abilities and an increasingly complex understanding of the world.

Piaget theorized the teacher’s role is to facilitate learning by providing a variety of experiences. “Discovery learning” provides opportunities for the learners to explore and experiment, thereby encouraging new understandings. The use of concrete “hands on” experiences help children learn.

Application of these theories in our program
Our curriculum is based upon themes we feel children find relevant to their lives, therein creating meaningful associations to the learning concepts. We use a hands-on method which includes concrete props, visual aids, story problems for math, and also encourage students to classify and group items.


Eric Erikson’s Philosophies

  • Psychosocial Stage 1 “Trust vs. Mistrust” – The first stage of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development occurs between birth and one year old and is the most fundamental stage in life. The development of trust is based on the quality of the child’s parents and caregivers. If a child successfully develops trust, he or she will feel safe and secure in the world. Failure to develop trust will result in fear and a belief that the world is inconsistent and unpredictable.
  • Psychosocial Stage 2 “Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt” – The second stage of Erikson’s theory takes place during early childhood and is focused on children developing a greater sense of personal control, learning to control one’s body functions leads to a feeling of control and a sense of independence. Children who successfully complete this stage feel secure and confident; those who do not are left with a sense of inadequacy and self-doubt.
  • Psychosocial Stage 3 “Initiative vs. Guilt” – During the preschool years, children begin to assert their power and control over the world through directing play and other social interactions. Children who are successful at this stage feel capable and able to lead others. Those who fail to acquire these skills are left with a sense of guilt, self-doubt, and lack of initiative.
  • Psychosocial Stage 4 “Industry vs. Inferiority” – This stage covers the early school years from approximately age five to eleven. Through social interactions, children begin to develop a feeling of competence and belief in their skills. Those who receive inadequate encouragement will doubt their ability to be successful.

Starting with our infants we work to build trust by ensuring their physiological needs are met. We feed them when they are hungry. We change them every two hours or sooner if needed. We make sure their clothes are changed if wet or soiled, and if they look cold or hot we adjust the temperature to ensure they are comfortable. Our teachers enjoy rocking the infants to sleep. You will often find other classroom teachers on their lunch break (while their student’s nap) in the infant room cuddling or playing with the babies.

In our toddler and young preschool classrooms we allow the kids to feel a sense of control by letting them attempt to put on their own jackets, allowing them decide which centers they will rotate to next, giving them a variety of materials to choose from so they can assert their independence, and of course we focus on positively encouraging them to use the potty. Whether it’s the potty song or a sticker chart, we praise those who attempt to use the toilet even if they do not actually go. According to Erikson, this should lead to our students feeling secure and confident.

For our older preschoolers and pre-kindergarten students, we create opportunities for social interaction so the children can begin to explore their personalities while transitioning from parallel to interactive play. We want the students to feel capable and to lead others in activities such as role playing in dramatic play or in building a giant tower in blocks.

We do our best to encourage all of our students to the extent that they will feel proud of their accomplishments. Incentive charts, stickers, or whatever it takes to show them we noticed even the little things they may have achieved, go a long way in ensuring students develop a sense of competence and belief they can succeed.


“The richest and fullest lives attempt to achieve an inner balance between three realms: work, love and play.” – Erik Erikson


Application of these theories in our program

Abraham Maslow’s Philosophies

We do our best to help children maximize their full potential by strengthening “self-esteem” and giving them the “attention and recognition” they deserve for their many accomplishments. We ensure they feel a sense of “love and belonging” from their teachers and classmates by providing a nurturing and supportive environment. Your child will feel the “stability and consistency” that stems from a place where the teachers and staff really care about their individual needs. Whether it’s a special toy or activity that makes your child feel more secure, our staff will go above and beyond to ensure each child’s physiological needs are being met.

Application of these theories in our program

Abraham Maslow is most well known for his hierarchy of needs. He feels that humans are motivated by unsatisfied needs and suggests that lower needs need to be satisfied before higher needs will be achieved.


Other Philosophies

John Watson, B.F. Skinner, and Albert Bandura contributed greatly to the environmentalist perspective of development. Environmentalists believe the child’s environment shapes learning and behavior; in fact, human behavior, development, and learning are thought of as reactions to the environment. This perspective leads many to assume young children develop and acquire new knowledge by reacting to their surroundings. At Safari, we make sure our “environment” is filled with age-appropriate materials and equipment in an effort to positively shape their learning and behavior as well as promote positive reactions to the environment.

The above theorists all focus on building positive and supportive environments to encourage achievement of developmental milestones. Safari Childcare uses a guided approach to help your child reach and achieve these milestones. We do our best to ensure the environment is safe and secure as well as intellectually stimulating. Our curriculum is designed to promote character education and kindergarten-readiness. Each classroom consists of permanent and flexible learning centers. Learning centers are clearly defined and arranged to promote independence, decision making and to encourage social involvement. Children will have options for active and quiet play. All of our classrooms have age and developmentally appropriate materials, which stimulate a child’s natural curiosity to learn.