~ PLAY is the foundation of learning in young children. ~ Young children learn through active exploration in an environment which is rich in materials and learning opportunities to converse, socialize, work, play and negotiate with others. Play has an essential role in a child’s overall development. True learning isn’t about repeating what another says. Learning requires one to engage and experiment to find out how things work and that is what children do in their play. ~ Learning at Grow Together Child Care (GTCC) is play & cognitive based.
Growing Together Child Care’s environment and daily activities are intentionally planned to encourage curiosity, exploration and problem solving in an atmosphere of warmth, affection and respect for each child in care. Learning opportunities are planned based on children’s interests, appropriate educational concepts and a child’s individual development. Children may work individually or collaboratively, and may choose whether or not to participate in offered projects. Children are actively involved in learning opportunities which include foundations of math, science, social studies, creative art, language arts, music, movement and dramatic play. All interrelated aspects of the child’s growth and development are considered — intellectual, social, emotional, physical and creative.
I see my responsibility as helping the children in care have a successful beginning on their learning path. Learning opportunities at GTCC support:
- developing a trusting relationship with adults
- developing an understanding of themselves as individuals
- allowing children to take the initiative, express opinions and make choices
- collaboration and working with peers
- using a child’s interests to motivate and engage them in learning
- viewing a child’s errors as learning opportunities
- develop a strong oral and receptive vocabulary
- develop readiness skills in math and reading
- develop gross and fine motor skills
- understanding and following a routine
- learning to transition between activities
- assessing a child’s thinking, as well as their work, in order to support their learning
A variety of open-ended toys and manipulatives are available at GTCC at all times for children to play with. The selection of these toys and the physical set-up of the child care space changes as the interests and developmental level of the children indicate. Projects incorporated into our play are developed around the interests and skill levels of the children participating.
Children are continually assessed using the appropriate level of the current Maine Early Learning Development Standards: ITMELDS or MELDS.
- Fosters creativity and imagination.
- Encourages cognitive, emotional, and social skills.
- Cultivates initiative and independence.
- Promotes problem solving and decision making.
- Teaches emotional control.
- Furthers cooperation with others.
- Develops motor coordination and enhances overall physical health.
Approaching all interactions with “intention” is considered best practice at Growing Together Child Care. At GTCC we do not just observe and assess, but are sensitive to the individual needs of the young children in care. From that place we can determine the most effective teaching strategies to use for each child and experience. It is important that each child gets a good start on their path to a successful and fulfilling life. Not what I want for them, or what their parents want for them, but what they want for themselves. Children need to learn who they are and what they are capable of. With a positive self-image and self-esteem anything is possible.
A Cognitive Based “Intention” Curriculum
When one teaches with intention, one:
- has a learning environment that is rich in materials to offer students a variety of experiences and chances for interactions
- continually observes students to gage interests and level of comprehension
- encourages exploration
- talks with and listens to the students
- challenges students to question, stretch their abilities, and work outside their comfort zone
- continually extends students’ existing knowledge as new lessons are introduced
- covers all areas of instruction
- understands the content to be taught
- matches content to the developmental levels and emerging skills of students
- plans, but remains flexible
- uses spontaneous or unexpected teaching opportunities
- reflects on success of strategies used and alternatives
- reflects on their own strengths and weaknesses to direct their continuing professional development
It doesn’t matter if I am helping an infant developing body awareness, a toddler expanding their developing language skills, a preschooler learning the alphabet, or the school-aged with homework support, if each child and learning opportunity is approached with intention, I end up providing them with the “best” I can.
From a belief that strong families support a child’s development, I understand the importance of my daily contact providing the opportunity to develop that strong relationship with each family. Outside resource materials are provided directly to families when needed in supporting each child’s development. Families may also access support from Help ME Grow Maine for any concerns about their child’s development.