Bartlett Community Preschool implements a play-based, developmentally appropriate program. Within a constructivist philosophy, we utilize the emergent curriculum and project approach. In both frameworks, topics emerge from children’s curiosities and integrate program goals and content areas.


  • The Project Approach


Projects provide the backbone of the children’s and teachers’ learning experiences. The approach is based on the strong conviction that learning by doing is important and that to discuss and to revisit ideas and experiences leads to better understanding and learning.


The word project when used in the “project approach” has a specific meaning. A project is as in-depth investigation of a topic worth learning more about. The investigation can be under taken by a small group of children within the class, by the entire class, or by an individual child. The key characteristic is that the project is a research effort deliberately focused on finding answers to questions posed either by the children, the teacher, or the teacher working with the children.


The project approach addresses not only academic goals, but also intellectual goals. Intellectual goals focus on habits of mind that help children make sense of their world. Some habits of mind that relate to intellectual goals include the disposition to:


  • Make sense of experience
  • Theorize, analyze, hypothesize, and synthesize
  • Predict and check predictions
  • Find things out
  • Strive for accuracy
  • Experiment
  • Grasp the consequences of actions
  • Persist in seeking solutions to problems
  • Speculate about cause-effect relationships
  • Predict others’ wishes and feelings


The evidence from studies suggest that preschool programs based on child-centered learning activities contribute to children’s short and long term academic and social development. While preschool programs based on rote learning lessons gain a short term advantage in children’s academics, they sacrifice a long-term contribution to social and emotional development. On this basis, BCP supports the use of a curriculum based on child-initiated, teacher supported/guided learning activities.


  • Emergent Curriculum


Learning happens when children are engaged in an activity that interests them. Emergent curriculum begins with children’s interests and experiences. Teachers and children decide together what they would like to study, and the teachers participate in the learning with the children.  The role of the teacher is to thoughtfully listen to children as they play, determine their interests and then offer a plan (the curriculum) that will enable them to take the next direction in their learning. Emergent curriculum is not something that is rigid. It is playful, flexible, and open-ended and continues to grow as children and teachers work. Emergent curriculum gives adults the opportunity to explore, expand and bring real meaning to the questions of a child. When we really listen to children and nurture and encourage their play, we are helping to create strong, confident, creative members of our community.


  • Constructivist Approach


Fundamentally, constructivism theorizes that people build their own understanding and knowledge through experiencing the world and reflecting on those experiences.


Constructivism is a learning theory:


  • Learning is an active process
  • Knowledge is constructed from (and shaped by) experience
  • Learning is a personal interpretation of the world
  • Problem solving and understanding are emphasized
  • Authentic tasks, experiences, settings, and assessments are used
  • Content is presented holistically – not in separate smaller parts

Contact Us

Bartlett Community School
PO Box 181
Bartlett, NH 03812