Children are always curiously exploring the world
through their play and making meaningful connections among experiences….
This process develops a true love of life and learning.
At Little Inspirations Early Childhood Center, we strive to give our children the best of both worlds -- individualized attention similar to what they would receive from a single, nurturing caregiver, along with the professionalism, educational structure and socialization found in childcare centers and schools. Guided and inspired by leading educational philosophers such as John Dewey, Maria Montessori, Jean Piaget & Lev Vygotsky, Little Inspirations holds constructivist theory close to heart. We also aspire to the natural aesthetics and collaborative community orientation found in Reggio Emilia approach to schooling.
What does learning look like at Little Inspirations?
At Little Inspirations, we model learning through interaction. Our teachers and students are continually interacting with each other and their surrounding environment.
The Little Inspirations environment is designed specifically with children’s interactions in mind. We expect every object, person and routine of our day to have a specific purpose that inspires, supports and encourages learning. We are consistently challenged to be creative and purposeful in our use of everything we encounter as tools for guiding cognitive, physical and socio-emotional growth. We believe that through intentional interactions and purposeful play we are building mindful and healthful habits — the strong foundations for lifelong learning. While learning, children engage in a variety of activities that further their learning about our world.
Individual Skill Builders encourage explorations that provide opportunities for children to take advantage of those sensitive periods of specific interest and skill acquisition. Activities such as puzzles, lacing boards, stacking and sorting materials, matching games, and practical life activities allow children to work independently on specific skills and self check to build confidence in their progress. Teachers do not interfere in these activities, but are continually observing and intermittently checking in to both assess student progress and reassure the child that they are there to assist as requested or required.
Purposeful Play often mimics the real world allowing children to engage in and solidify learning about their observations and experiences outside of school. New challenges of socialization occur as children learn to navigate new roles in life, express themselves and negotiate preferences peacefully. Through having disagreements, children learn to negotiate, resolve conflicts and appreciate difference. Through sharing materials, children learn about abundance and turn taking. The purposeful play periods are wonderful windows into the personality of each child, and teachers observe such interactions with the intentions of understanding each child’s worldview, while planning opportunities to extend each child’s learning.
Integrative Learning Projects can last a few weeks or many months, and allow children opportunities to contribute to the greater good (by doing their developmentally appropriate part of the project) while exploring the world, learning real life skills and collaborating with others. These projects also help set the stage in building executive functioning skills while learning to break big projects into smaller, more tangible parts and seeing how the finished product is more than the sum of its parts.
At Little Inspirations, learning never stops when we leave the classroom. To the contrary, our learning begins with the inspirations found outside our doors. Children engage in nature walks, scavenger hunts and everyday real-life events that stimulate interest in many areas of life. They visit local parks, museums and businesses. As teachers, it is our job to bring each child’s interest back into the classroom to extend their experiences and develop the skills and conceptual understandings that lead to deeper engagement. Each experience is a building block to the next, and the flow of learning is guided through acute observation of / interaction with the children, being a role model of learning for the children, and using our solid understandings of development and appropriate methods of facilitating learning.
Field Trips are integrated into our schedule regularly to inspire interest in something new or to allow children to build upon knowledge they’ve recently attained. We consider field trips to be journeys rather than destinations, and learning occurs all along the way — in preparation for the trip, during each transition of the trip, and with follow-up reflections about each trip upon our return. Field trips are fun experiences and, just as importantly, are opportunities to develop and reinforce safe habits, experience an adventure, and make connections between new learning and past experiences. Parents are always welcome (and encouraged) to join us on all of our field trips!