The Puzzled Giraffe had the privilege to sit down with Will Wintermute, the director of Bright Horizons at Fairfield to talk about their mission and what sets them apart from other local childcare options. In one word -passion.
When you think about placing your children in the care of others, you want them to be engaged, loved, and cared for. You are looking for a place that is passionate about what they are doing and to work in harmony with your plan as parents. At Bright Horizons at Fairfield that is what you will find.
Bright Horizons at Fairfield focuses on an Emergent Curriculum approach to early childhood education. What does that mean? “Emergent curriculum is defined as a process where teachers plan activities and projects based on the specific group of children they are working with, taking into account their skills, needs, and interests,” shared Will. As we walked through the facility, we noticed that immediately. In one room, children made cut out flames with numbers attached and took turns putting out “fires”; the amount of squirts matched the number on the flame! In another room, colored clothes hung on an easel as children experimented with mixing colors. Down the hall, children were sitting quietly at their desks working on stories in their personalized journals. The activities in each classroom looked completely different because of the varying skills, interest and needs of the children. Bright Horizons at Fairfield recognizes the unique nature of each class and teachers plan lessons and activities accordingly. This is in contrast to others in the field that either use a set curriculum for all classes in an age group, or those that use little or no curriculum at all and rely on play based models.
As we spoke to Bright Horizons at Fairfield team, we took a deeper look at this curriculum approach by using examples of how this has played out in their facility. As a child looks out the window and notices the leaves on the trees changing, the teachers take note. Lesson plans are then created to talk everything “Trees”. They cover it all from how trees are grown, what can grown on trees, what is made from trees, what we can eat from trees and beyond. Art projects are made with leaves, apples are brought in to cook. Letters are written from paper, which is made from trees. The children are EMERGED in the world of trees, hence the name “Emergent Curriculum”. The result is children are engaged and genuinely interested. After all, they were the ones interested in trees in the first place. Perhaps the coolest aspect of this approach is that though the children are learning about trees, which was guided by their interest, as you can see from the example above they have incorporated writing (on paper made from trees), climate and weather (how trees grow), and so on. Teachers do this while still planning their lessons according to the age group and appropriate content including school readiness skills such as letter and number concepts. Furthermore, they also follow state early childhood standards and use a system for tracking children’s progress such as Teaching Strategies GOLD™
Bright Horizons at Fairfield recognizes that growing a successful, lifelong learner is important. This starts in their infant classrooms and follows into their toddler program(s), preschool program and Kindergarten Prep program. As they graduate from each level, they are exposed to new and exciting curriculum. These curriculum components include, Language Works, Math Counts, Science Rocks, Art Smart, Our World and Well Aware. While Bright Horizons at Fairfield works on a 52 weeks calendar year, they are following the school year. This means they start their first day at “school” in September, graduate in June (caps included, how cute!) and have an 8 weeks summer camp where students bring a suit and towel some days and have true “camp games” to let loose!
Another key element we took away from our visit was the communication back to parents. Daily sheets are provided to the parents on what took place that day. These sheets can include what was learned, what was eaten at lunch, or even how many bottle and diapers your infant went though. These Daily “highlights” provide pictures and genuine thought. Always looking to improve, Bright Horizons at Fairfield is rolling out a “Live” app were you can even get push notifications sharing when you baby ate, to when they woke from their nap! This starts May 18, 2016! Technology…still amazes me!
If you are looking for a great local option for childcare which is backed by a national leader in the industry, we would definitely recommend you take a look at Bright Horizons at Fairfield.
To find out more about the programs offered and services available please visit http://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/e-family-news/emergent-curriculum-early-education-approach/.
-Bright Horizon is a Advertising Partner with the Puzzled Giraffe, LLC