Okay, here we go…let’s get to writing!
To give this program shape, I have to answer the question, “What is the Inspire Early Learning Program?” Basically, it’s a simple introduction to the principles of early childhood development. It’s an accessible approach to providing quality and meaningful learning experiences for young children. Consider it a guide to helping adults develop their young learner’s basic skills they need to embark on the life-long quest of building knowledge. It seeks to lay a solid foundation that prepares children to enter the more formal environment of “school.”
For this program to be successful, it really must create a natural partnership among the school, parents, and community. Inspire becomes the rally point for families, teachers, and volunteers to take ownership of their young learners future.
I need to include current research in education and child development. One of the most important questions to answer is, “How do children learn?” Jean Piaget said, “Play is child’s work.” Active, play-based learning is the most natural way for early learners to develop. Carefully designed experiences will promote development in the 5 Areas and 25 Goals.
It’s clear that children begin the journey of learning at home and in the community. They build knowledge through experiences, and those experiences compound and interconnect. Each child brings a unique set of experiences and abilities to the classroom. The classroom environment makes a difference in the learning. The best learning environments include rich experiences in active play, exploration, movement, and social interaction.
The program needs to give parents and teachers solid grounding in developmental characteristics. They need to understand what each of the 5 Areas looks like in terms of what’s typical for children from ages three to five.
Answering the question, “What does Inspire hope to accomplish?” gives the program focus and boundaries. Unpacking the five Areas of Development and 25 Goals will help give shape to the program. Each of the Goals should also include Examples to help clarify the intent. Then, listing ideas for practical “Experiences” that facilitate development will guide teachers and parents.
So the five Areas branch into 25 Goals that branch into several Examples each that branch into many Experiences. This will really form the heart or skeleton of the Inspire Early Learning Program.
This program needs to help parents be intentional and purposeful about the learning experiences they design and provide. In an international professional development setting, it’s important to systematically build a foundation and framework for the learning. This will include strategies, lesson planning techniques, basic learning activities, assessments, classroom environment and culture, and schedules.
The program must afford opportunities for parents and teachers alike to learn how to create meaningful, effective learning environments that promote development. It will be centered on sound research and theory, but delivered in a practical and experiential way.
And finally, the family must take an active role in the child’s development. Most parents are not intimately acquainted with developmental characteristics or how to foster their child’s development. They all want their child to learn and be successful, but seldom do they have the background knowledge to support that.
This program will build a strong link between the home and the classroom.
That’s the basic outline of the program. Now it’s a matter of getting it all prepared and written out. Just a few weeks left till the launch of the pilot.