In an era when many early childhood centers run off ready-made curricula and cookie-cutter lesson plans, one school is still reinventing student-led learning — as they have for over 25 years.
It’s The Miami Valley School’s Early Childhood School, where independent learning is thriving and evident on every smile on the children’s faces. The passionate educators use a mix of pedagogies including Reggio Emilia and Montessori – learning styles which guide democratic education so seamlessly that it appears the students are designing and leading the curriculum. In reality, that’s exactly what is happening.
And it’s about to get even better in a new space. On August 17, 2016, young students will continue to engage in subjects interesting to them in a state-of-the-art, multi-million dollar school all designed with MVS teacher input.
“We sat down with our architect and thought out every inch of the new space. It is uniquely created for our learners and specific style of teaching,” explains Julie Patel, MVS Early Childhood School Director. Each themed room of the new school features vaulted ceilings and vast, open windows. There’s even a tree in the middle of the new space symbolizing growth, just as in the MVS logo.
Academics are important, but the real focus at this age is social and emotional development. “The social and emotional wellbeing and development of our children is just as important, if not more so, than academics. Being a good friend, the ability to empathize with others and stating what your needs and desires are, is crucial for children’s development not just in early childhood but in life.“ Patel explains. Each teacher is carefully listening and watching the children to uncover ways to incorporate their interests as they ensure students are moving along and reaching their cognitive benchmarks. “Of course we are here to make sure each child is meeting their unique goals. How this happens and the way the learning takes place is entirely up to them,” says Patel.
Nowhere is this seen more than in the day-to-day lessons, guided by student’s intellectual curiosity. One week the focus is on birds– from the science of flight to artistic representation across cultures– and another on mud (yes mud!), or studying the concept of wind through the Bernoulli’s principle.
Explore the difference at their first open house on The Miami Valley School main campus on Saturday, May 7, at 9:00 am.