The Academy of Early Learning is on mission to provide every child with a high quality education in an enriched learning environment that is safe, nurturing, developmentally appropriate, and founded on the tenets as taught in the Bible to promote individual growth and a lifelong love of learning.
We will establish solid policies and procedures that foster quality operations throughout the entire academy
We will deliver high quality academic programs
We will create superior learning environments within the classroom setting
We will be the school where teachers want to work and invest their careers
We will serve as a leader within the communities in which they serve
We will partner with the local church to share the love of Jesus and provide ministerial support to our families.
OUR ACADEMIES ARE INSPIRED BY THE REGGIO EMILIA APPROACH:
Although you may not come across many Reggio Emilia schools, there are many Reggio Emilia-inspired schools based on the approach developed in the 1940s in the town of Reggio Emilia in northern Italy. After World War II, the community, along with schoolteacher Loris Malaguzzi, came together to develop schools that would help children become better citizens. The overall philosophy is that kids are really encouraged to explore. The teachers are there to help them explore.
Reggio Emilia schools are known for a project-based approach, which many preschool programs have borrowed. In a project-based curriculum, lessons are based on the interest of the students. For Example: If children playing outside encounter a flower and start to ask the teacher questions about how it grows, instead of directly answering the questions, the teacher encourages the group to “find out together.” The class may then build a garden and learn all that entails, while acquiring other important premath, prereading concepts. Another example would be setting up a restaurant in the classroom based on the class’s interest in playing in the kitchen. Projects become “child-originated and teacher-framed.” Reggio Emilia programs are also known for documenting what children do, taking photos, making videos, writing observations. Then children and teachers can review what they’ve done throughout the year.
Through the Reggio Emilia Approach, children learn all about cooperation through the many projects, particularly how to solve problems and resolve conflicts. Parents may also choose a Reggio approach because they want to teach their kids how to think, not what to think, and to develop themselves as well-rounded individuals with an innate curiosity and love of learning. When they leave the Reggio environment, they are equipped to rely on their own inner compasses to help steer them on their individual journeys, rather than fit into one specific niche.”
PROJECT WORK APPROACH
The Reggio Emilia approach uses an emergent curriculum that is developed and guided by the children’s interests. Children engage in long-term small group and large group projects, which involve hands-on investigation, finding the answers to questions, reading about a topic, visiting sites or places, talking to experts and visually representing their learning through a variety of media. Assemblies are held at specific times during the school day to allow children to plan their project ideas and to reflect and expand upon their work. Pre-academic and academic areas are integrated into the project whenever possible and when developmentally appropriate.
In Reggio Emilia schools, reference is often made to the Hundred Languages of Children. Reggio Emilia educators share the belief that children have many methods of communicating, including storytelling, music, art, movement, dramatic play and construction. All of these methods of communication are respected and encouraged in the schools by providing children with a variety of interesting and open-ended experiences and materials, including natural and recycled objects. When children represent their ideas with a variety of different media, they reinforce new knowledge, allow for the formation of new questions and predictions, learn to elaborate on their ideas, and strengthen their ability to communicate with others.
TEACHER AS RESEARCHER
Our teachers have the responsibility to observe and document the interests, ideas, questions, struggles, connections and insights that their students make on a daily basis. From that documentation, the environment is arranged, materials are gathered and the curriculum is built. Teachers ask provoking questions to gather prior knowledge and learn about curiosities. They present materials that they suspect will engage and elicit even further interest of the study.
Classroom Environment and Design
The classroom environment plays just as important a role as do the teacher and the students. The teachers arrange and rearrange the classroom with intent and respect. Materials are chosen that will stimulate, inspire, and challenge the children as they enter the room in the beginning of the school year. As the year progresses, specific needs arise, a community is built and project topics emerge; the environment will change as a result. For example, the dramatic play areas will become restaurants, taxi cabs, subway stations, post offices, and much more.
The classroom is also set up so that children may freely engage in activities, use materials and make choices with little adult intervention. They will be able to use art materials, select books and serve themselves snack because of the purposeful design of the environment. This respectful process lends itself to children as they learn independence and gain confidence in their abilities.