At Little Owl, the primary focus in our program is to develop a child’s social skills and emotional understanding during the time in their life in which that part of their brain, the pre-frontal cortex, is growing and developing. An infant is born with an impulsive and instinctually powered brain. During their early childhood (age 0-6), the brain grows in size and begins to develop the pre-frontal cortex. The pre-frontal cortex is responsible for logical thinking, problem solving, and personality shaping. Empathy and emotional understanding are learned skills. Our program focuses on developing multitude of social skills through: practicing patience while waiting for a turn with a material, negotiating problem solving situations with their peers and teachers, and forming trusting relationships and connections with their classmates and teachers. Children will also learn emotional awareness through situational experiences where a trusted Educator guides them through identifying their emotion, labelling it, and teaching healthy methods of response.
Knowledge is socially constructed. Children learn through child-child interaction as well as child-adult interaction. Social relationships often involve debate, discord, and conflict. Although some cultures may discourage such experiences, “in Reggio Emilia conflict is desired and valued as a means to advance higher-level thinking” (Hewett, 2001). As children go through life they will experience conflict and discord, so being taught positive approaches to these challenging situations at a young age can benefit them as they move throughout their lives. There is a strong focus on social collaboration, working in groups, where each child is an equal participant, having their thoughts and questions valued. Healthy communicative practices are essential for the program’s success. Most children at this stage of development are experiencing a social setting with their peers for the first time and need the situational experience to practice and develop socially.
Children are also increasing their knowledge about the world around them through the incorporation:
- social studies
At Little Owl, children develop social skills and gain emotional understanding, while learning about the world around them, during their imprint years in their development. Teachers carefully stage classrooms and give children the autonomy to choose activities based on their unique interests, interweaving components of literacy, mathematics, and science into the environment.
Executive function is responsible for a number of skills, including:
- Paying attention.
- Organizing, planning and prioritizing.
- Starting tasks and staying focused on them to completion.
- Understanding different points of view.
- Regulating emotions.
- Self-monitoring (keeping track of what you’re doing)
Children are able to practice the hands-on skills they need to build a strong foundation for success as they prepare to enter school.