Curriculum

Our curriculum is inspired by child-focused methods of Waldorf, Montessori, and the schools of Reggio Emilia. We believe that one approach cannot completely and adequately serve the needs of a “child” who is curious, has a need for more diverse experiences, is an innovative learner, and has infinite potential. Our Program is based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment based on the interests of the children through a self-guided curriculum.

In our emergent and project-based classroom, the curriculum is collaboratively designed between the children and the teacher which emerges organically from the interests and questions of the student themselves.

As an educator we take two roles: the orchestrator of happy group learning and the more behind the scenes resource guide, helping the children channel and express special, individual interests in the classroom. We strongly believe that a balanced approach to education would include both lively, inspiring group work and time to explore a carefully prepared environment. We see the children really thriving when they follow their own inner educational direction.

The children follow their innate intellectual curiosities while the teacher asks them about their ideas, theories, and hypotheses. The Teacher listens to the children and supports their interests and pulls other children in who have complimentary interests and skills to collaborate as a group to deepen and broaden everyone’s understanding of the concepts being explored. All topics become mysteries that need solving and each child gets the chance to investigate those they are most drawn to alongside peers who are all doing the same. The Teacher, in our self-directed classroom, weaves her way between individuals and groups observing, listening, posing new questions and offering different perspectives, joining in their efforts, and continually seeking out new ideas to share with the children. Not only this, but the teacher can be a student herself. Alongside children the teacher pursues the topics that most interest them, modeling how to learn and sharing her enthusiasm with curious children. Together, in a community of equals joined by their desire to learn, knowledge is constructed and celebrated.

Outdoor Environmental Education

We offer a powerful program that fuses early childhood education and environmental education to develop a child’s lifelong connection with the natural world. Sprouting Minds Preschool incorporates nature based outdoor classes that provide children with an opportunity to connect with the natural environment in a safe and enjoyable way. We encourage children to find meaningful ways to connect to each other and explore the living world around them through play and exploration.

The children explore Albion Park, a forest nearby, with two Early Childhood Educators every Friday in our 3 days a week program and every other Thursday in our 2 days a week program. Children will participate in teacher-led group explorations, nature hike trails, gardening, cooperative games, and gross motor development.

What is Reggio ?

The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education is a progressive, play-based, child-led approach to early learning. The educator follows each student’s interests when designing learning experiences. Rather than following a standard curriculum model with pre-determined units of study, the Reggio curriculum has an underlying structure based on guided learning and collaboration. Traditional academic-focused preschool programs lack the opportunity for free play and child-led collaborations, which robs the childres of the chance to develop social skills vital to their ability to learn and apply knowledge later in life. The Reggio approach engages interests and skills of each individual child, places high value on group projects and social collaborations that allow children to explore and investigate their ideas together. Children are given the tools to communicate or represent their ideas in a variety of ways, whether it be spoken language, art mediums, music, dance, or dramatic play. The more ways a child can express his or her ideas, the more he or she can define those ideas, and the deeper the learning that takes place. Reggio environments are carefully constructed to encourage learning and curiosity; there is an emphasis on natural light, authentic materials/tools, order, beauty and purpose. Educators use a variety of documentation and display methods (photos, drawings, text, etc.) to make the children’s thought process visible throughout a project.

The Project Approach

The project method is an educational enterprise in which children solve a practical problem over a period of several days or weeks. It often involves building or creating something, but could be an activity as well. The projects may be suggested by the teacher, but they are planned and executed as far as possible by the students themselves, individually or in groups. Project work focuses on applying, not imparting, specific knowledge or skills, and on improving student involvement and motivation in order to foster independent thinking, self-confidence, and social responsibility.

The following video is an excellent overview of the Reggio Philosophy.

What is Waldorf ?

Waldorf education is based on the work of Rudolf Steiner, a leading early twentieth-century philosopher and scientist. The first Waldorf School opened in Germany in 1919 with the mission to foster independent thought and a sense of personal responsibility in all students. These progressive ideas spread quickly and today Waldorf is one of the fastest-growing educational models in the world.

Within this educational approach daily activities build a strong base for future academic success. The teacher fosters the children’s curiosity and their deep sense of wonder and guides them into a gentle and developmentally appropriate discovery of the world around them. Songs and nursery rhymes cultivate intimacy with language. Listening to stories, and participating in dramatic play strengthens the power of memory and imagination. Counting games and rhythmic activities playfully trigger a sense for arithmetic and numbers. Artistic activities and crafts help the children develop small motor skills, coordination, and the ability to concentrate. Ample time for free creative play, both in the classroom and outdoors, enables the children to strengthen their bodies, forge healthy, long-lasting social relationships, and engenders interest in the world around them.

What is Montessori ?

Montessori education is an educational approach developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori. It is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. A Montessori environment focuses more on a student’s learning than on a teacher’s teaching. Montessori believed that children educate themselves. Children are born to learn, and they are remarkable learning systems. But what they learn depends greatly on their teachers, experiences, and environments. This is the concept of the absorbent mind. Montessori believed there are sensitive periods when children are more susceptible to certain behaviors and can learn specific skills more easily. One role of the teacher is to use observation to detect times of sensitivity and provide the setting for optimum fulfillment. Montessori believed that children learn best in a prepared environment, a place in which children can do things for themselves. The prepared environment makes learning materials and experiences available to children in an orderly format. Since children within the environment are free to explore materials of their own choosing, they absorb what they find there.