Little Owl School is a small school with a large purpose: we work to change the way young children interact with the world. We help them to experience fairness, integrity, and respect for others and the environment. Ultimately, we provide them a springboard for becoming the person they are meant to be. If we begin to value who children are, not just what we want them to be, a shift happens in the way we think about learning and teaching. At Little Owl, the child’s inherent desire to learn is acknowledged and facilitated. Children learn to live fully and joyfully, and ultimately become self-motivated problem solvers with an abiding curiosity about the world.
Our Approach to Curriculum Planning
We are influenced by and greatly respect the philosophy and educators of the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy.
We believe the heart of children’s learning is play. Through self-initiated play, children develop physical, cognitive, social, and emotional skills and grow into critical thinkers. The educational philosophy at Little Owl is based on constructivist learning theory and research, which has shown that children learn best by discovering and constructing their own knowledge in an enriched environment. Through relationships, with both people and materials, children develop and construct meaning and a contextual understanding of themselves and the world at large.
Children are active, sensory learners, and Little Owl offers an environment that allows children to explore, investigate, interact socially, and problem solve. At Little Owl the curriculum encourages children to engage in diverse, active learning experiences that help them acquire higher order abstract thinking, an essential component of creative problem-solving.
Little Owl is committed to a curriculum in which the children’s ideas, not the adult’s, construct the planning of projects. Before beginning projects, teachers learn about the children’s interests through observation. Teachers then prepare varied materials that will provoke and anticipate avenues for the children to explore their interests through projects. One primary goal of the curriculum is that teachers accept children and their parents as they are: culturally, developmentally, and linguistically. Teachers do not maneuver children into preconceived roles ordained by arbitrary methods or objectives. Instead, they treat children as contributing participants in the curriculum. This results in a positive and supportive relationship between teachers and children.
Teaching with Intentionality
Our educational program and vision at Little Owl is inspired and nurtured by the programs in Reggio Emilia, Italy, where education is viewed not as a product or goal to be attained, but rather as an ongoing process of growing and learning through investigation and inquiry. Our knowledge about how children grow, learn, and develop critical thinking is also validated by the work of Piaget, Vygotsky, Bruner, Dewey and others.
“The curriculum is not child centered or teacher directed. The curriculum is child originated and teacher framed…We have given great care in selecting the term ‘negotiated curriculum’ instead of emergent or child centered curriculum. We propose that ‘negotiated curriculum’ better captures the constructive, continual and reciprocal relation among teachers, children and parents and better captures the negotiations among subject matter: representational media and the children’s current knowledge.” Innovations in Early Education: The International Reggio Exchange, vol.3, no. 4.
The Reggio Emilia Philosophy Encompasses:
- A respectful image of children as competent and capable
- The role of the teacher as a co-researcher and co-constructor in the learning process
- The child’s role in constructing knowledge through exploration and relationships
- The importance of the school environment as an educational force and a source of well-being
- The use of a wide range of media and materials to foster self-expression, learning and communication (The Hundred Languages of Children)
- The interrelationship and reciprocal influence of children, parents and teachers
- The value of collaboration among all participants in an educational system
- The relationship between the school and community
Source: The North American Reggio Emilia Alliance