Our Approach: Reggio Emilia Approach for Early Childhood at TerraNichol Academy Of The Arts
TerraNichol Academy embraces constructivist education while incorporating the Reggio Approach to projects and learning. Constructivism is not a “method” of teaching, but rather a theory regarding how we all learn. Constructivist educators put the emphasis on the process, and instead of how “best to teach”, we strive for “how best to learn”.
As an visual and performing arts school we encourage children to approach learning with enthusiasm and joy. Children’s minds naturally construct knowledge by engaging in the process, searching for meaning, synthesizing information, interpreting ideas, adapting their theories, and sharing what they think. This process allows us to construct understanding; growing our minds, hearts and souls.
Brain Based Learning
Neurological science has shown that the human mind flourishes when actively engaged in experiences, often referred to as experiential learning. By providing a structured, yet flexible day, with hands on activities, and investigative projects, children look forward to school with a sense of adventure. Our Teachers design an innovative curriculum that supports both critical and creative thinking skills that grow with the children as they age. We incorporate Dr. Howard Gardner’s work on Multiple Intelligences, touching the learning styles of each individual child. Teachers, children and parents partner together as they participate in the classroom, on-site fieldtrips, and in projects launched by the children’s ideas. Education is not seen as a straight path, but rather a lifelong journey filled with endless possibilities.
At TerraNichol Academy we take an interdisciplinary approach to teaching. Our indoor and outdoor spaces are seen as “Laboratories for Learning”, where ideas grow and flourish. As a progressive school, a wide variety of subjects weave in and out of our interdisciplinary approach. Academic skills grow naturally as literature, language arts, and mathematics are integrated into children’s daily work and play. Students of all ages feel appreciated as they share their knowledge with others and connect “big ideas” across the curriculum. At TerraNichol Academy, numbers and letters, stories and songs, paint and clay, wire and wood, dance and drama, are just a few of the “100 languages” children use to express their ideas and knowledge.
The philosophy behind our curriculum is that young children learn best by doing. Learning isn't just repeating what someone else says; it requires active thinking and experimenting to find out how things work and to learn firsthand about the world we live in. In their early years, children explore the world around them by using all their senses (touching, tasting, listening, smelling, and looking). In using real materials such as blocks and trying out their ideas, children learn about sizes, shapes, and colors, and they notice relationships between things.
In time, they learn to use one object to stand for another. This is the beginning of symbolic thinking. For example, they might pretend a stick is an airplane or a block is a hamburger. These early symbols - the stick and the block - are similar in shape to the objects they represent. Gradually children become more and more able to use abstract symbols like words to describe their thoughts and feelings. They learn to "read" pictures which are symbols of real people, places and things. This exciting development in symbolic thinking takes place during the pre-school years as children play.
Play provides the foundation for academic or "school" learning. It is the preparation children need before they learn highly abstract symbols such as letters (which are symbols for sounds) and numbers (which are symbols for number concepts). Play enables us to achieve the key goals of our early childhood curriculum. Play is the work of young children.
The Goals of Our Curriculum
The most important goal of our early childhood curriculum is to help children become enthusiastic learners. This means encouraging children to be active and creative explorers who are not afraid to try out their ideas and to think their own thoughts. Our goal is to help children become independent, self-confident, inquisitive learners. We're teaching them how to learn, not just in preschool, but all through their lives. We're allowing them to learn at their own pace and in the ways that are best for them. We're giving them good habits and attitudes, particularly a positive sense of themselves, which will make a difference throughout their lives.
Our curriculum identifies goals in all areas of development:
- Social: To help children feel comfortable in school, trust their new environment, make friends, and feel they are a part of the group.
- Emotional: To help children experience pride and self- confidence, develop independence and self-control, and have a positive attitude toward life.
- Cognitive: To help children become confident learners by letting them try out their own ideas and experience success, and by helping them acquire learning skills such as the ability to solve problems, ask questions, and use words to describe their ideas, observations, and feelings.
- Physical: To help children increase their large and small muscle skills and feel confident about what their bodies can do.
The activities we plan for children, the way we organize the environment, select the materials for the learning laboratories, plan the daily schedule, and talk with children, are all designed to accomplish the goals of our curriculum and give your child a successful start in school.
Our Curriculum is Arts research based with a combination of approaches including Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theory, developmentally appropriate practices, emergent curriculum inspired from the Italian town of Reggio Emilia and the integration. Arts research based curriculum is also designed for the foundation and future growth and development.
Visual and Performing Arts
- Art Appreciation
- Scrap booking
- Language, Literacy, Poetry
- Science, Math, Social Studies,
- Computer Technology, Cooking,
- Outdoor/Physical Education
- Yoga, Gymnastics, Zumba for kids, Gardening, Eco-Village,
- Sand and Water Discovery, Playground Activities and Games, Art, and Outdoor Science Lab
- Eco-Friendly Preschool-worm farming, composing, vegetable garden, herb gardening, homemade non-toxic cleaners, recycle program, waste-free "greener lunches", etc.
Terra Tominelli-Founder, Director/Teacher
Michelle Messier, Educational Program Director/Teacher