Experiential Learning, developed by David Kolb and informed by Piaget, recognizes that knowledge is continuously gained through both personal and environmental experiences. Children are active and engaged learners; constantly researching and experiencing the world in order to make sense of their environments. Reflection is a crucial part of the experiential learning process. The teachers at Seedlings to Sunflowers recognize the importance of facilitating reflection and using it as an opportunity to help support our learners in developing critical thinking skills. As such, our teachers are often asking “why”, “how”, “how can we do it differently or the same” as they investigate experiences with the children. Reflection is always patient, encouraging and intentional with the goal of expanding the child’s learning and interest.
Each classroom is created around developmental milestones with materials that allow creativity, movement, community building, exploration, imaginary play and nature based investigation. We invite children to participate in the classroom community by building traditions into their day which include morning welcome, daily job assignments, community meals and closing meeting. Through this process children become connected to the center and in turn take greater ownership over care for the space and for each other.
Cultural Curriculum: It has been proven that students who learn about different cultures during their education feel more comfortable and safe with these differences later in life. This allows them to interact in a wider range of social groups and feel more confident in themselves as well as in their interactions with others.Throughout the school year, our students explore over 10 countries around the world.
Zones of Regulations™: The emotional development and well-being of our students is of utmost importance to us here at Seedlings to Sunflowers. We utilize a social-emotional regulation framework called Zones of Regulation™ created by Leah Kuypers, M.A. ED, OTR/L, in our classrooms. Our teachers are trained on how to use this curriculum at our in-service days. It helps children become more aware of their feelings and internal state. At the beginning of each year, the children at S2S create a visual barometer of each zone that is hung on the wall, that they can continue to reference throughout the year. It’s amazing to see them start to use it by letting us know what zone they are in! It is important to note that there are no “bad” zones, that every zone/feeling is OK.
Pre-K for ME: Pre-K for ME starts being implemented in our Preschool & Pre-K Classrooms. “This research-based, whole child curriculum meets the requirements of Chapter 124: Public Preschool Program Standards and is developmentally appropriate for four-year old children. Adapted from the Boston Public Schools’ Focus on K1 curriculum, Pre K for ME is intended to support any preschool teacher in providing a rich, play-based, intentional curriculum that is aligned to Maine’s Early Learning and Development Standards as well as the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework. When implemented with fidelity, Pre K for ME builds social-emotional, executive function, language, literacy, math, and vocabulary skills. In addition, students’ conceptual knowledge around a variety of topics is enhanced—an important component for school success.” For more information visit: https://www.maine.gov/doe/learning/earlychildhood/PreK4ME.
Handwriting Without Tears®: We use Handwriting Without Tears’ multi-sensory strategies here at Seedlings to Sunflowers. This intuitive approach to writing and reading is introduced in our Sprouts Classrooms (2-3 yrs) and continued through to our Pre-K Classrooms (4-5 yrs) where we utilize the “My First School Book.” Through the use of purposeful manipulatives combined with play-based, multi-sensory techniques, this program is proven to help build a strong foundation for literacy.