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Guiding Principles

The Guiding Principles of Our Early Education Program

Little Leprechaun has translated our Best Practice Curriculum theories into a set of guiding principles that describe the types of activities in which children and teachers are engaged throughout the day. The following represents our guide for "Good Things for Children and Teachers to be Doing".

Good Things for Children to be Doing

Exercising All of Their Senses

Little Leprechaun's programs provide children with the opportunity to use not only their physical senses but also exercise the emotional and aesthetic parts of their being. As human beings we are endowed with the ability to experience a variety of emotions. We may not always welcome some of the emotions that children express, but experiencing them is part of what it means to be fully human. The role of the teacher is to help children accept these emotions and learn how they can be expressed in socially acceptable ways.It is also important to provide children with the opportunity to have a variety of aesthetic experiences. We expose children to music, art, and language that can speak to their feelings and emotions.

Problem Solve Within Both the Physical and Social Worlds

In order to construct their understandings of how the physical and social worlds work, children need the opportunity to engage their minds with meaningful challenges and problems. We provide children with large blocks of time to engage in age-appropriate problem solving, including manipulative play, art and music play, language play, and socio-dramatic play. The opportunity for meaningful problem solving also occurs when children experience interpersonal conflicts with their peers. When these conflicts arise, our teachers provide support and encourage children to work out their own solutions to the problems rather than having a solution simply imposed on them. Children begin to develop a sense of control and efficacy when they are able to work out their own solutions.

Use Symbols to Represent and Communicate

One of the most powerful moments in a developing child's life is when she becomes a user of symbols. This typically occurs sometime in the second year of life when she begins to use physical actions and gestures to imitate some aspect of her experience and later, when she begins to use sounds and words to communicate. This beginning of what is called representational competence is a major development in a child's life because she is now able to represent ideas and communicate those ideas to others. Language -oral, written (and sign) is perhaps the prime representational ability that develops, but it is by no means the only form of symbolic system available to children. Art, movement, song, and other forms of imagery are also ways in which children can express their feelings. Drawing on the 100 Languages of Children, developed by the Italian schools of Reggio Emilia, we provide opportunities for children to use a wide variety of media for the purpose of representing their ideas and feelings.

Go Beyond Immediate Experience

As human beings, our experience is not limited to what we can see and touch in the immediate here and now. We are able to use our ability to represent and communicate our ideas through symbols in order to act on the world at a distance. To exercise this inherent and important human ability, Little Leprechaun teachers provide children with a variety of experiences focused on considering past events, anticipating future events, and imagining possibilities beyond what is immediately present.

Make Choices

A child’s development as an autonomous learner, who is motivated to inquire, explore, and experiment in order to solve meaningful problems, depends on her having the opportunity to make choices. We give your children as many opportunities as possible to encounter manageable choices that fall within their competencies. This allows the child to feel in control of her experience and to have a vested interest in the outcome of her activity.

Experience Alternative Perspectives

Children need the opportunity to experience alternative perspectives, both within the physical world and within the social world. The materials and activities at Little Leprechaun are designed to encourage children to view things from different perspectives and to consider all angles. Social interaction sets the stage for children to experience the varying opinions expressed by their peers. In addition, celebrating the cultural differences that exist in our society exposes children to the varying ways in which people live their lives.

Reflect on Themselves as Doers and Learners

It is a fact of development that children are able to "do" before they are aware of themselves as "doers." That awareness begins to develop around the time children enter kindergarten and primary school. The fact that children can't think of themselves as a "doer" doesn't mean that it isn't an activity that should be emphasized and encouraged. Little Leprechaun teachers continually encourage children to reflect on themselves as "doers" and learners. Children are provided with the opportunity, for example, to review activities already completed, revisit a problem they encountered in their play, and revise something they may have created.

Respect

Positive teacher-child relationships are built on the respect the teacher has for the child. Little Leprechaun teachers demonstrate respect for the individuality and humanity of all the children in their care, respect for the developmental journey of the child, and respect for the family and cultural backgrounds of each child.

Model

Little Leprechaun teachers serve as important models for the children in terms of demonstrating respect for other people, exhibiting curiosity in the world around them, cooperating with other staff members (and children), using appropriate language when expressing ideas and feelings and in communication with other people.

Respond to Children’s Interests

Quality educational curriculum should emerge from the interests of the children. Little Leprechaun teachers spend time observing and interacting with children, making note of the interests that are being expressed in their play and activities, and then planning the environment and activities based on these interests.

Scaffold Children’s Activities

Young children often want to accomplish tasks in their environment that they don’t quite have the ability to carry out. Our teachers understand the importance of supporting children in their efforts to carry out their goals and intentions and providing just enough support for the child to accomplish her goal. Teachers are watching for the opportunity to move children from acting with support to independent behavior.

Observe and Document Children's Activities in all Realms

It is a priority that our teachers spend time observing children's activity in order to understand the interests, needs, and capabilities of the individual child so that we may best respond to those needs. Documenting children's efforts and activities through anecdotal notes, running records, and photographs are important ways of reflecting on the child's development and communicating with parents about the daily experiences of their child.