One of our core values at Tierra Encantada is that Children in our Care Deserve the Best. One way of achieving high quality care is through crafting a high quality curriculum. Tierra Encantada’s curriculum encompasses a number of things- learning through play, a STEAM experience, the Montessori approach, Spanish Language immersion and support of the growth of the whole child.
The Whole Child
Education for the whole child is important- it allows us to combine the various methods of instruction to target lots of different subjects. The “whole child” means we integrate social, emotional, physical, language, cognitive and creative development into everyday learning. It allows us to acknowledge that every individual learns at their own pace, meaning there is no one way to teach that would equally affect every child. To reach and help educate someone, we believe you need to know and understand them. Our teachers do all they can to both know and understand their students. Teacher-student relationships are built on trust, respect and the fostering of a safe environment. Having those traits as a foundation helps every individual get the most out of every lesson plan. To add on to those relationships even more, another one of our core values is emphasized- Diversity makes us better. We strive for purposeful inclusion, where the diversity of humanity and our big wide world is cherished. A safe environment is one where acceptance and appreciation of diversity is the norm. This is where the best learning can occur.
Our Thematic Approach
We organize our curriculum through monthly themes. Child development theorists have a variety of research pointing to learning being effective as an integrated process. The use of monthly themes allows classrooms to connect various sections of development back to a central idea. In other words, the theme integrates social, emotional, cognitive development into its common thread. Additionally, the themes are applicable to the lives of young children and the content is relevant and interesting. Some examples of themes are “I am Special, I am Me!”, “People and Places in my Community” and “How Does it Work?”. This month, the theme is “Colors and Shapes are all Around us”.
Science, technology, engineering and math are what make up STEM, and STEAM adds arts into the mix. We pull all five of those categories into daily activities with experiments, exploration of processes and toys and classic school worksheets. A common thread we follow through each theme and category is a facet of the Montessori approach- letting students guide lessons based on what they are curious about. If a child wants to know something, they are enthusiastic about all aspects of learning about it! They are free to explore and supported to question things.
On top of all the intricacies of the curriculum, we prioritize having fun! Playing is every child’s favorite pastime, and it isn’t just playing- it’s learning! Playing is active and engaging, incorporates lots of varying materials and gets kids to use their imaginations. Learning through play is often a child’s favorite way to learn, and we never discourage it!
Structure in our curriculum manifests through daily schedules and routine, both of which are balanced in what they include- open-ended activities versus teacher-led activities, indoor and outdoor play, rest and relaxation.
A craft or activity or book are never just what they seem on the surface- they’re a part of our deeply researched Tierra Encantada curriculum. The craft might use a variety of motor skills, the activity could value teamwork and interaction, the book may highlight diversity and acceptance- and all in ways that are fun for the kids we care for and teach!