Teaching Methods

Small Wonders draws our teaching methods from a variety of early childhood developmental philosophies. We utilize the theories of Reggio Emilia, Piaget, Erickson, and the Project Approach to educate the children in our program. With the construction of each lesson plan we take into consideration the Multiple Intelligences Theory and Developmentally Appropriate Practices.

Mixed-Age Settings:

Children 3 and older participate in a Mixed-age classrooms. We feel this structure provides more flexibility for preschoolers and their particular stage of learning. Not all 3-year-olds are in the same place developmentally, socially or academically, and just as highlighted by the Theory of Multiple Intelligences learning styles and readiness for such can vary widely. Mixed age classrooms are more attuned to these different and offer child a more varied approach as children can be grouped or gathered for play with other children on their level. This lessens to likelihood of frustrations or performance stressors. Having your child in a mixed-age group classroom gives them the opportunity to master needed skills and concepts before moving on to additional levels. They also give children deeper relationship with their teachers and peers, with less transitions to deal with. Older children have the opportunity to be role models to others, and younger child get to see that their friends have mastered what they are working on, which can grant them confidence. Parents also have the opportunity to build a longer relationship with their child’s teacher. This partnership benefits children greatly.

Developmentally Appropriate Practice

As the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) defines it, “Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) is a framework of principles and guidelines for best practice in the care and education of young children, birth through age 8. It is grounded both in the research on how young children develop and learn and in what is known about education effectiveness. The principles and guidelines outline practices that promote young children’s optimal learning and development.”

Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory

The theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. Dr. Gardner proposed nine different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. Gardner theorized that the intelligences rarely operate independently. They are used at the same time and tend to complement each other as people develop skills or solve problems. At Small Wonders we seek to cater to each child’s strengths while working to nurture and develop all of the multiple intelligences. We keep all of the intelligences in mind during our lesson planning. Read more about the Multiple Intelligences at Small Wonders.

Reggio Emilia Philosophy

Reggio-inspired programs encourage children to express themselves through the hundreds of “languages”: words, movement, painting, sculpture, song, sketching, dramatic play, collage, and so on. Reggio adds whole layers of aesthetics and communication to the daily early childhood curriculum. Reggio-inspired classrooms include authentic materials and are places where children’s words are valued and documented. The Reggio Emilia philosophy includes the Project Approach, which is child-directed learning; the teacher operates as a learner as well as a researcher. Documentation takes a variety of forms from transcribed conversations to inspire future lesson plans, bulletin boards, email updates that log classroom events, reflections, and dates on artwork, etc. All forms of documentation are displayed, revisited, and reflected upon on an ongoing basis. A popular documentation tool at Small Wonders are our portfolios, a place of collection, and our Bookworks, a place of words and thoughts. These return home at the end of the year and are a wonderful time capsule of your child’s interests and growth!

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In a Reggio-inspired classroom, the environment is viewed as the third teacher, as a result the teachers give a lot of attention to creating an environment that provides opportunities for exploration; the classroom setup is very purposeful. The image of the child in the Reggio philosophy is that children are competent and full of potential. The environment is then meant to reflect that view by presenting authentic natural materials like woven baskets and glass, an environment that makes learning enjoyable and shows the child they are respected. Materials are designed to be accessible, aesthetically pleasing, and stimulating.