Learning in GHA’s Preschool and Pre-K classes is informed by the early childhood framework, Teaching Strategies, and involves an intentional blending of five elements
Gig Harbor Academy’s early childhood approach recognizes that children are the source of their own learning which, in turn, forms the center of the curriculum. Teachers support children’s active learning by providing a variety of materials and modalities to explore. Further, teachers interact with and carefully observe individual children and lead small and large group learning activities. Teachers continually encourage and support children’s interests and involvement in activities that occur within an organized environment and a consistent routine.
Both structured and unstructured play, designed by teachers in order to reach specific learning goals, are particularly important for this age group and are a significant aspect of our learning approach. During play children learn new concepts by exploring and manipulating materials and learn to imagine themselves in new situations. They discover how to apply unique skills such as, role playing, taking turns, and setting and following rules. In addition, they practice oral language skills as they communicate with peers. As children play they remember, incorporate, and rehearse new knowledge and skills in a variety of ways.
Young children love to ask questions. It’s one of the ways in which they make sense of the world and their place in it. As children are curious about the world around them, they pose questions and as they do, they develop valuable and complex problem-solving skills. When children are able to pose questions and investigate the answers they feel in charge of their own learning. Inquiry-based approaches to learning harness this spirit of investigation, creating an interesting, engaging, and meaningful learning experience that uses children’s interests and questions as a starting point for learning
Young children learn best through self-initiated activity with concrete objects. Through social interactions with their peers, children learn to understand another’s point of view and develop empathy. At Gig Harbor Academy, children are active in their own learning, they make sense of the world for themselves as they become independent thinkers. Being autonomous, having choices, and making decisions, each child learns to be responsible for their own learning. Gig Harbor Academy’s Early Childhood Curriculum, although outwardly focused on self-initiated activities, has a specific structure. It makes provisions for the different starting points from which children develop their learning, it builds on what each child can already do, and the tasks given are relevant, making certain that content is developmentally appropriate and that it matches the different levels of young children’s needs.
At Gig Harbor Academy young children learn by connecting with things that have meaning to them. Children need a personal connection to the material they are learning, whether that’s through engaging them emotionally or connecting the new information with previously acquired knowledge. Engaging students in relevant work also increases their motivation to try.