At Amplify, students of K-1 ages experience an academic journey that values children being active learners. Using a Reggio-inspired curriculum, our teacher implements a holistic curriculum that prepares kindergarteners and first graders for success in their later elementary school years. Through meaningful provocations, community outreach experiences, and intentional and natural teaching moments, they will be free to explore and encounter the joy of learning. It is our hope that by inspiring children to “want to know” rather than “know what we want,” our students will walk the world with an amplified sense of childhood, curiosity, creativity, and character.
Though a K-1 classroom may be a bit unfamiliar, Amplify’s founder grew up in classrooms with mixed aging. She also consulted with her kindergarten teacher and one of our former K grandparents before seeking first grade from the state. The advantages of a looping teacher are summarized in scholarly articles, but best when experienced http://www.ascd.org/publications/newsletters/education-update/mar98/vol40/num02/Looping.aspx. Unlike many programs across the country where combination classrooms are instituted to resolve a teaching and overcrowding crisis, Amplify is a deliberate classroom arrangement in which we can offer the Reggio approach to our children that are older, but still in their formative early childhood years. A K-1 classroom is able to focus at a richer level to inspire their inquiry and project work that draws on their interests and prior knowledge.
Some of the Reggio Emilia ideas are finding their way into elementary schools in the United States today. One practice that is becoming common is the teacher and group of students staying together for more than one year. In Reggio, a pair of teachers and a group of children stay together for three years. Although their environment changes as their development progresses, the community of learners stays intact. At Reggio, teachers see themselves as researchers, continually documenting their work with children. Many U.S. elementary teachers conduct action research in their classrooms to find answers, to solve problems, and to guide their decision making, just as the Reggio teachers do. Finally, the Reggio approach works with the child in relation to other children, to the family, to the teachers, to the school environment, to the community, and to the wider society—and the interconnections and reciprocity are encouraged and supported. Many programs and schools in the United States have embraced those same important relationships and integrated them into preschool and elementary curriculum.Excerpt from Early Childhood Education: Birth – 8: The World of Children, Families, and Educators, by A. Driscoll, N.G. Nagel, 2008 edition, p. 159-161.
Our expectation is that learning will deepen and skills will grow stronger through this direct discovery and research experience. We recognize that children thrive in social environments that create safety, healthy relationships, and a strong sense of community. Morning meetings happen daily, children work in small and large groups and every child will have the opportunity to contribute to the care of each other, the classroom and the school.
A day in the life—in the Amplify Children’s Academy
Kindergarten-1st (8:30-3:30 = our instructional day as a WV nonpublic school)
Child originated play & work
Plan the day
Dialogue about projects
Mind & body connection
Outdoor play, work, observations and discovery
Learning centers and groups (reading, dramatic play, writing, studio work, math, science, world around them, outdoor connections)
Child originated work based upon project study
Individual, small and large groups
Child-initiated, teacher supported learning. One-on-one time observing, documenting and guiding children’s individual goals and knowledge & skill attainment.
Self-sufficiency and healthy nutrition are promoted through self-serve, family-style meals and snacks. Conversations and the sense of community is developed as children and teachers eat together.
During this time, small group and teacher supervised work allows children to advance in their skills at their unique level.
Children receive formal gym time to support their gross motor development. They gain experience in managing the maneuvers of their growing bodies, developing motor skills for potential interests and navigating relationships to be a peer and team focused environment.
Afternoon meeting & reflections
Each day, children reflect on the happenings of their day and journal about their experiences. After solitary reflection and documentation has occurred, they share their drawings and writings with one another.
Child originated play & work in the DropZone
Have a great evening!
Example of how Reggio will inspire my learning during these years…
I’ve peaked an interest in space because there is a NASA space shuttle nose on the playground. I play pretend in it, but my little mind is still questioning…can I be an astronaut? How do they fly? What is the difference between a spaceship and a space shuttle? Why are there always pictures of the astronauts floating?
My Amplifier will:
- Allow me to ask the questions that I want to know the answer to
- Build a space shuttle out of recyclable materials, allow us to name it and show us pictures of a command panel so that we can navigate our creation
- Invite an astronaut to visit our class
- Watch videos to make us feel like we are in the cockpit
- Allow us to use instruments to mimic the sounds of a blastoff
- Read us lots of books, but give us books that we can read independently
- Make us clay so that we can probe our ability to sculpt 3-D objects
- Give us words to write that we’ve never heard of before: altitude, accelerate, gravity, empennage, launch
- Put the globe at a level where we can reach and explore it
- Incorporate novel learnings into songs so that I retain it
- Provide us with materials so that we can measure how large space shuttles and ships are
- Learn what astronauts eat, then compare it to what we eat. Now I wonder, why do they dehydrate vegetables?…vegetables have water?…how do they grow?…
This is how we will move onto a new project. My Amplifiers will listen, ask, guide, document, research, build…whatever it takes and wherever it goes. In our morning meetings we will revisit understandings and make continual connections. A friend will bring up that we never found out what happens when you use the potty in the sky. Oh boy, this has our full attention…
I will utilize all areas of my development and curriculum until I am certain that I know more than you, and then shift my interest to the next novel thing that I discover. My Amplifiers will document our work, link it to my developmental observations and use each of my achievements to influence the goals for our classroom and for me. We want you to fully understand my happenings and enjoy my ideas and growth regularly. These documentations will be visible in the classroom and virtually in LifeCubby.
(According to §18-5-18. Kindergarten programs, kindergartens in West Virginia are intended for “children who have attained the age of five prior to the first day of September of the school year in which the pupil enters the kindergarten program,” but ” the option of early school entrance is available for students who demonstrate academic readiness.)
Please call 304-333-2544 to schedule a time to meet with a member of the admin team and the teacher. We will tour the classroom and explore how the Reggio approach will inspire your early elementary-aged child to love learning. There’s no doubt that they’ll be teaching you things while they are enrolled in Amplify K-1!