Little Acorn follows a rich tradition of early childhood models and practices and believes in incorporating the very best aspects of those influences, which include but are not limited to: Howard Gardners’ Theory of Multiple Intelligences, The Hundred Languages of Children (world renowned Reggio Emilia early childhood model), Jean Piaget, Eric Erickson, and Lev Vygotsky’s developmental psychology theories, and some ideas of Maria Montessori.
The most important aspect of the Little Acorn Sprouts Curriculum is that it puts the child-in-relationship at the center of its program planning. This relationship includes:
The Child’s relationship with the caregiver: The teacher is always warm, responsive, loving, respectful, encouraging and observant. Teacher’s faces light up when greeting and interacting with the children in their care because they recognize that the children are the most important part of our school! At the heart of the teacher/child relationship is the teacher’s responsiveness to the needs and initiations of the individual children in his/her care; the teacher’s goal is to develop and maintain a continued warm and nurturing rapport that communicates a shared sense of joy in each experience, effort, and accomplishment, and which says to the child, “You are loved, and you are special. I’m here for you.”
Since toddlers are sensory-motor beings, as the teacher interacts with the child, he/she provides for and facilitates daily experiences designed to encourage the whole child’s growth and development. The teacher includes activities that involve all of the child’s senses. Toddlers are read to, sung to, danced with, cuddled, and surrounded in language. They are provided with opportunities to see, hear, taste, touch, smell, move, and explore the world around them at their own natural pace. In addition to planned activities and experiences designed to enhance learning and deepen relationships, regular times of routine care such as feeding and diapering are used as powerful opportunities for further interaction and learning.
The Child’s relationship with the environment: The classroom environment is the child’s home away from home and therefore has a homelike atmosphere. It is warm, inviting, and culturally inclusive; with soft spaces to cuddle, and stimulating, challenging safe spaces for children to crawl, climb, explore, and express themselves in a wide variety of ways. As they do this, connections are being continuously formed in their brains that will empower them to become curious, life-long learners.
The classroom is arranged in playful learning centers and the curriculum is carefully planned by the primary care-giver after individually observing and interacting with each child at play. Then, using documentation and assessment to plan activities and experiences that allow for continued growth and practice in all key aspects of that child’s current development. Next, these activities are scaffolded to encourage and facilitate the child’s natural movement into the next level of development.
The Child’s relationship with peers: Kind and inclusive relationships with peers are purposefully encouraged and nurtured by the teachers at Little Acorn to provide the child with maximum opportunities for social growth. Teachers are exemplary models in relationship as well as direct teachers and facilitators of positive daily interactions through play, puppetry, and incidental teaching.
The Parent’s relationship with the Teacher: Little Acorn considers the parent/teacher partnership to be an integral part of its programming. This partnership is valued and nurtured by daily oral and written communication. Toddler’s daily care schedules are planned and frequently updated by the parent/teacher team, to be most responsive to each child’s individual needs. Little Acorn considers the fact that this may be the parent’s first introduction to their child’s formal education process and therefore encourages parent participation and involvement that research has shown will later continue when their children enter public school.
The Teacher’s relationship with his/her workplace and co-workers: Little Acorn feels that happy and peaceful employees make happy and peaceful caregivers who will want to continue teaching at Little Acorn for many years. Therefore, we offer employee benefits such as paid personal leave and vacation, medical benefits, continuing training in CPR, First Aid, and Early Childhood Education, competitive salaries, annual raises and generous bonuses. Little Acorn also provides a richly equipped, peaceful, responsive, and pleasant work environment; where teamwork, positive communication, and appreciation of initiative and cooperation are key components.