The paragraphs below present some of the core educational principles that help define the First Steps Academy experience. They are based on our seven Principles of Service which guide all activity at our school. While some concepts may have more significance in one age group than another, they all contribute to satisfying our mission of preparing young children for success in life. We are happy to explore these principles in more depth and explain how they might impact your child (or children) in their age appropriate class when you contact us or come in for a tour.
Model Distinguished Character
Do the Right Thing
One of our primary goals is to impact the lives of children in such a way that they are able to take a stand for what is right and true. We expect our students to learn and model such values as thankfulness, service, kindness and respectfulness. As someone once said, “Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.”
Building confidence is a precursor to building great character; having great character is a precursor to finding success in life. Confident children will try new experiences and risk accepting harder challenges. We continually provide challenges that allow children to experience the joy of success.
Failing Is OK, Failing To Do Your Best Is Not
Mistakes will always happen. We seek to create environments where children feel confident to explore and experiment without the worry of being penalized. We expect children to give tough problems an honest effort. Failures represent opportunities to learn and eliminate one wrong path on the road to finding the right path. Perseverance builds character.
Respect the Roles of the Family
Honor Mom and Dad
We desire to support parents and strengthen the bond between parent and child. We are happy to reinforce messages and habits parents are teaching as much as possible. We will also tailor discipline aproaches, rewards and incentives at parents’ request. We feel it is our duty to provide counsel and present parents with options, we will defer once they have made a decision.
Children understand quicker and more completely when they experience consistency. While we certainly expect our teachers to interact with children in a consistent manner and provide consistent routines in the classroom, we also work to create consistency and continuity with the routines at home.
The family unit is the most important social organization. We seek to involve families as much as possible in the classroom, at field trips and through other social events.
Support the Dreams of Children
Preschool is a time for children to enjoy innocence and discovery. We want to be a place where children have fun, learn and cultivate meaningful social relationships. Some of the best compliments we receive are when parents tell us, “My child just comes home happy.”
Leverage Natural Curiosity
There’s no better time to teach then those moments when children are engaged and actively enjoying discovery. Our program is designed with the flexibility to pursue the interests of the children in each classroom.
Every Child Can Contribute
We believe that we all share the responsibility of making the world better. Every child can contribute, using their unique talents, and postively impact the life of another person. We help them discover that feeling of joy we get when we make difference.
Respect the Capabilities of Children
Children should try to tackle challenges by themselves first, it is the only way they will grow and develop those skills that will be so critical to them as they mature.
Children become adults who need to make choices for themselves. It is our responsibility to teach children how to make wise choices; this requires practice. We provide structure by specifying the context and options, while they learn about the positive and negative consequences of their choices.
Provide Feedback, Earn Answers
We expect children to discover answers to problems for themselves. While it takes patience to watch someone struggle through a challenging problem when we have the answer ready, the skills they learn are invaluable. The role of the teacher is to provide feedback and guidance so students can continue to make progress.
Educate the Whole Child
Nurture the Heart
The physical heart and emotional heart need attention and we design activities to nurture both. Gross motor skills and healthy habits are built during structured and unstructured activities. During free play children grow emotionally and socially with their friends while teachers help them develop the communication tools that are necessary for building positive relationships.
Ask Questions, Maximize Dialogue
It’s just part of human nature, that our minds tend to wander when we listen to a lecture. It’s much more effective and stimulating to teach through questioning and dialogue. It is especially useful in helping young children develop a strong vocublary and providing the support needed for understanding our complex world.
Repetition is Necessary
While a major goal of education is to develop problem solving and critical thinking skills, it is adventageous for some skills and habits to become “second nature.” This is accomplished through repitition and practice.
Create Loving, Organized and Exploratory Environments
Engage All Five Senses
People learn most effectively when all senses are activated. We provide opportunities for children to experience all the wonderful depth of our world.
Environments and Equipment Should Encourage Self Discovery
Our rooms are designed to aid children in developing the desire to wonder, discover and explore. Learning aids, toys and equipment are placed within reach of children so they can be discovered and used in creative play.
Provide Enough Structure
Structure provides comfort and security for children; additionally, they learn about boundaries and respect. In contrast to the Montessori Method where children spend most of their day engaged in self-directed development, we seek to engage students and guide their learning. While time must be set aside for self-directed development, we recognize it as one of many tools we can use in helping children develop.
Engage Children As Individuals
Adults inherently need to make meaning out of their lives and environment; the same holds true for children. While “learning for learning’s sake” resonates with many children, others need to understand the use or greater purpose before they feel properly motivated.
Accommodate All Learning Styles
People learn in many different ways, some are more visual while others are more verbal, kinetic, musical, etc… in nature. We build lessons around the learning styles of the children in each classroom.
Nurturing Self Identity
We recognize the uniqueness of each child and help them become aware of their own talents and challenges so they can be prepared for life. We celebrate each child as an individual and help them appreciate their differences and similarities.