The Core Tenets of Our Early Childhood Curriculum
It's a common misconception that early childhood learning is simplistic in nature, or trivially easy. While the lessons and activities children dmay seem that way from the outside, the truth is that there's an enormous amount of research, planning and science behind the reasons why ECE, or early childhood education, is the way it is! Specialists and researchers across the nation have been refining ECE for decades, bringing new theories, methods and approaches to the table all the while — and this is especially true today, with the advent of easy-to-use and intuitive technologies like tablets, learning apps, and more.
And it's no different here at The Big Red Barn! Our curriculum, known as Frog Street, is the result of the lives' work of hundreds of career educators and dedicated childhood learning specialists. At the core of Frog Street's programs are four core tenets: early brain development, intentional instruction, developmental learning domains, and social-emotional learning, all of which come together to form a stimulating, engaging, and effective curriculum. From a child's first venture into an Early Learning Center to their graduation and first day of kindergarten, we use Frog Street to take them the whole way.
Come along with us as we walk you through each of these four core tenets of our curriculum here at the Barn!
Early Brain Development
Young brains don't quite operate the same way fully-grown ones do. The younger a child is, the less developed their neuron connections will be — this is true of all children, and having those connections develop in a constructive manner is the ultimate goal of any ECE educator or Early Learning Center. In simpler terms, young minds are uniquely malleable, and it's a teacher's job to help shape them!
With a deep understanding of how babies', toddlers' and preschoolers' brains develop overtime, Frog Street is designed to stimulate kids' minds in the way that allows for optimal learning. Beginning with the basics of language, interpersonal interaction, motor skills, and other bits of foundational learning, and ending with good old reading, writing and math, Frog Street expertly assigns each topic and subject to the age group best suited to learn that given topic or subject. For instance, we teach creativity and relationship-building skills in our Toddler classrooms since that's when kids are most receptive to those sets of skills!
One of the biggest underlying principles of early brain development is the fact that young minds learn best through experience — engage a child's senses, and you engage their brain in a way nothing else can. That's a big part of the reason why letting children explore on their own accord and getting dirty is a big part of our philosophy! We believe that children learn best when they can experience the world firsthand, and that children are much more motivated to learn when they find it fun and engaging. And after all, what's more fun to a child than getting dirty?
No two children are alike, every parent knows this. Yet all too often, we assume that all our kids will be taught the exact same thing in the exact same way when we send them off to school — and this begs the question, why do it that way? If every kid is different, surely they all learn differently too?
And if you ask us, you'd be right! Every child has different needs when it comes to how they learn, and children can reach their full potential much easier when their educators adapt to their unique learning styles and needs. This is at the heart of intentional instruction, the recognition that every child learns differently and planning classrooms around that fact. Acting on this, teachers can better adapt their strategies and directives to better suit each child, creating an environment where every kiddo receives the help and attention they need to thrive.
But tailoring lesson plans and teaching styles to suit every child in the class, doesn't that eat up a lot of time and resources? Does intentional instruction come at a premium? Not at The Big Red Barn! Our far-better-than-average 1:4 student-teacher ratios mean our instructors can effortlessly tool and retool lessons and curricula to fit each of their children perfectly — no premium necessary!
Developmental Learning Domains
As was previously touched on, different age groups are better suited to learning different things. Learning different topics at different times is key to Frog Street's method to optimize early brain development, and sorting those topics into 'domains' is how Frog Street compartmentalizes early childhood education.
Categorizing and distributing these critical concepts and subjects across age groups helps kids stay immersed in a smaller, more concentrated spread of things to learn. It helps them dive deeper into each domain for a deeper overall understanding of each, as opposed to attaining a weaker understanding of a wider spread of subjects. We feel this proves especially valuable in the long-term, as kids develop their age group's critical skills to a more comprehensive level than may have otherwise been possible, strengthening their foundations and thereby boosting their odds of future success.
Foundational domains, like Language & Communication, Emergent Reading, and Emergent Writing, are what your child will typically begin acquiring in their younger years, likely before the age of three. They will then take the skills they learned from those early domains and apply them to great effect in the later domains, like Science, Social Studies, Fine Arts, and Technology Applications.
We've already written a full blog post on social-emotional learning, but in case you missed it, here's a quick rundown:
Social-emotional learning makes up the foundation of how children will interact with themselves and those around them. Just like numbers, letters and colors make the foundation of a healthy academic life, social-emotional learning makes up the foundation of a healthy social life: it helps kids learn how to interact with their peers, talk to adults, control and understand their newfound emotions, practice self-moderation, and exercise self control — among a whole list of other valuable skills!
With a solid social-emotional foundation, children are equipped with the skills they'll need to one day enter into and thrive in the real world.