Research shows that early childhood education is not just about teaching, but also about quality learning environments and exploration. At Metro United Way’s Excellence Academy (EA) early learning centers, supported in partnership with Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C) and The Lift a Life Foundation, teachers are encouraged to implement the Reggio Emilia inspired approach to learning in their classrooms. This approach is an innovative research-based philosophy founded on the best practices for early childhood learning where each and every child is viewed as a strong, capable, creative and intelligent learner.

The teachers at one of our newest additions to the EA, Jefferson Community Technical College Early Childhood Development Center, shared how a classroom observations with one of their little learners, Malik*, has significantly changed their view about how children learn. Malik was often described in the classroom as very shy and disengaged; most of the time, he chose not to participate in the classroom activities.

But one day as his teachers were observing the kids on the playground, they noticed how Malik’s eyes lit up when he saw a praying mantis. Recognizing how engaged he was, they used Reggio Emilia concepts to expand his experience. Malik was thrilled when they captured the insect in a jar for him to explore his curiosity. The teachers’ insights from their observations improved Malik’s learning experience and helped him become a more engaged, focused and patient student.

It’s important for our Excellence Academy teachers to become deeply aware of the potential of their children and continue to create learning environments that are tailored for each child’s individual learning experience. We are proud that our EA teachers challenge themselves to continue creating innovative learning opportunities for our children, setting each child on a path for success in school and in life!

*Student’s name has been changed.

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