Our center follows developmentally appropriate practice. For young children, research tells us they learn best by “doing” or through play. Play is their “text book.” Our teachers create intentional, planned, play-based environments that facilitate all areas of development while at the same time allowing enough flexibility to respond to each child’s individual needs. Our teachers provide a wide variety of “hands on” experiences that encourage children to be active learners, to lead, to follow, to solve their conflicts, to listen, to appreciate differences, to count, to reason, to create, and to use their muscles. Our teachers teach by close observation and attunement to each child’s unique talents and abilities such that the planning for optimal learning opportunities is maximized for each child. Emphasis is placed on the process (the doing) rather than the product. The purpose is to help each child reach their highest potential intellectually, socially, physically and emotionally as well as nurture a genuine lifelong love of learning.
Young children are naturally curious. They wonder what things are called, how they work, and why things happen. The foundations of scientific learning lie in inquiry and exploration—these are the tools of active learning. Fostering young children’s sense of curiosity about the natural world around them can promote a lifelong interest in it. At Morning Star we believe in the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach.
Science is a way of thinking. Science is observing and experimenting, making predictions, sharing discoveries, asking questions, and wondering how things work.
Technology is a way of doing. Technology is using tools, being inventive, identifying problems, and making things work.
Engineering is a way of doing. Engineering is solving problems, using a variety of materials, designing and creating, and building things that work.
Math is a way of measuring. Math is sequencing (1, 2, 3, 4…). Patterning (1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2…), and exploring shapes (triangle, square, circle), volume (holds more or less), and size (bigger, less than).
Nebraska Early Learning Guidelines (ELG)
The ELG guidelines are based on research and evidence regarding child development and practice that result in the best outcomes for young children. ELGs were developed by the DHHS and the Nebraska Department of Education. The ELGs are a road map to successful Kindergarten.
Although teachers plan the day, week, or month’s theme with specific learning goals in mind and use the ELGs as a base structure, they are encouraged to be flexible in order to capitalize on serendipitous events that provide opportunities to maximize each child’s learning. An example might be a particularly delightful spring day that calls everyone to be out of doors, attuned to the re-awakening of flowers, trees, or butterflies. Teachers are also encouraged to supplement their planning with other high-quality curricula.
Lesson plans are posted outside the classroom and emailed to parents weekly. The guidelines provide information related to seven domains or areas of learning and development: Social & Emotional Development, Approaches to Learning, Health and Physical Development, Language & Literacy Development, Mathematics, Science and Creative Arts.
We believe that children learn best when they are involved and interested in the topic. The best cognitive curriculum emerges from the child’s interest – it is not solely dictated by the teacher’s interest. Teacher build the curriculum experience by experience, idea by idea, as the topic evolves while the teachers and children investigate it together. This does not mean that teachers just wait to see what children want to do each day. They plan curriculum based on careful observation of children’s interests and emerging skills. Teachers believe it is a valuable for children to be able to generate their own ideas, figure out answers themselves, and try out a variety of solutions until they discover one that works. Teachers act as facilitators of this process, aiding children in their discoveries and providing a wealth of experiences to add to the child’s knowledge of the world.
Multicultural education includes teaching children about their own culture – their ethnic heritage. It also means exposing children to other cultures and helping them to be comfortable with and respect all the ways people are different from each other. It is teaching children how to relate to one another and how to play fair. Multicultural education encourages children to notice and think about unfairness, and challenges them to do something about the unfairness toward people in the world.
Multicultural education is more than teaching information directly. It means providing a classroom that includes materials depicting people from many different places doing many different things. It is creating and maintaining an environment that says “everyone is welcome here.” It is also encouraging children to act, think, and talk like members of their own culture. it’s helping children to like themselves just the way they are. It’s encouraging children to actively explore a variety of materials and exposing them to experiences that might not be part of their daily lives.
Anti-bias curriculum focuses on classroom practices that help children develop and strengthen their self and group identifies, interacting respectfully with others while in a multicultural environment. Anti-bias curriculum is a proactive approach to reduce prejudice and promote inclusiveness. The anti-bias approach is a teaching strategy that values diversity and challenges bias, rather than ignoring and therefore reinforcing children’s misunderstandings of differences. It further stressed the importance of bicultural, bi-cognitive education. This means that children learn the values, rules, and language of their own culture in a teaching style appropriate to their culture and they learn the values, rules, and language of the dominant culture.