It takes a village to raise a child, and we are so excited to be a part of the village that provides the context for your little one’s earliest memories. Our teachers help your children develop in meaningful ways, taking intentional time to build personal relationships and give each child the support they need to progress and grow. We believe God created us as individuals, and our child-centered approach to education emphasizes this, creating a strong foundation for our Explorers to grow into adults who explore, choose, create, and solve for God’s glory.
The Constructivist Approach
Our program is rooted in the Constructivist Approach, in which children “co-construct” their learning by bringing their unique life experiences to the classroom. Each child is fully capable of constructing and adapting their knowledge through discovery, collaboration, and communication. “Students not only take part in what we’re learning, but how we’re experiencing it. This makes learning meaningful and personal, which results in better retention,” states Merili Wyatte, Director of Early Childhood and Lower School.
We believe all children have the right to learn in an environment that is intentionally designed to make the most of their natural curiosity and love of play. Our sensory play, outdoor classrooms, and nature-inspired playgrounds are only the beginning. Our environment will naturally integrate what the students are working on. For example, sensory tables encourage connections through tactile discovery, fine motor skills, and social interaction. The contents of the table will align with the classroom topic of inquiry or contain high interest items that lend themselves to new discoveries. If the students are working on a bike project, the sensory table may have an assortment of wheels to make tracks in different materials. If students are working on a shell project, we would use shells in a variety of ways to teach and practice math skills.
At the beginning of each day, students and teachers will gather for a morning meeting where teachers facilitate a sense of family as everyone greets one another and prepares for the day’s events. Teachers will actively involve Explorers, valuing their opinions and perspectives about what they’re learning, whether it be a project they are working on, a skill they are having difficulty with, or a spontaneous event that has captured their curiosity. Throughout the day, students will have opportunities to collaborate with small groups and deepen their learning.
A part of the time spent in small groups will be directed toward working on group projects. Project-based learning is a crucial component to raising happy, able, and productive children who make their community a better place through creativity, empathy, perseverance, and service-mindedness. The focus will be on quality versus quantity, process versus product to really teach students to dig deep! “The project approach allows for maximum growth as student work on studies in authentic ways that lend themselves to the ways that student learn best – in a fun, social, active, multi-sensory context,” says Wyatte.
An example of a project the Explorers might undertake is to study food. As we explore the topic, students might have an interest in buying and selling food which might result in a farmer’s market. Teachers would help students grow some of the food, create menus, coordinate who will handle money, and develop price sheets, then plan a grand opening where they invite their friends and family to celebrate their success.
All our teachers are certified in the areas they teach, and the majority hold degrees. They honor each child as a uniquely created individual and respect and listen to their wants, needs, and ideas, understanding that their responsibilities go beyond the classroom.
“[Teachers] are not just teaching [students] their ABCs,” commented Luz Gutierrez, Early Childhood Program Coordinator. “They’re teaching them emotional intelligence; how to resolve problems with peers; how to resolve problems with adults; think critically; come up with their own ideas; draw their own conclusions from their work; how to eat on their own; or maybe even helping them feed themselves, or how to soothe themselves.”
Our high-quality educators are vital to giving your child a place that honors and nurtures who they are and who they will become. From the design of our classrooms to the interactions and experiences that take place on our campus, everything we do is intentional, reflecting our beliefs about the ways in which children learn best and honoring the child as a uniquely created individual.
“We truly care about our students,” said Gutierrez. “It’s not just that we’re providing them with education. We treat them like they’re our own kids.”
At North Tampa Christian Academy, one of Tampa’s private schools, the faculty, staff, and families work as a team. Our service-oriented approach builds Christian leaders who think deeply, choose wisely, create beauty, and use their dreams to solve problems. Want to learn more about what makes us different? Contact us today.