Place-Based Early Childhood Program: Community as Classroom
A place-based early childhood education program transforms an entire curriculum into a responsive community-based initiative, but retains the learning outcome. Such program is important for my teaching practice at The ABC Elementary School. The school is an associate to the Beecher Tucker Elementary Kindergarten in Michigan. The institution is surrounding by an interactive culture that can be used to institute a class that give realistic experience to children. Currently, ABC Elementary school has no place-based early childhood program that uses the community as an experimental class for the children’s behavioral and intellectual development. Thus, the need to develop and implement a place-based early childhood program that views the community as classroom for experimental learning.
The school has a population of 500 children. With an inductive ratio of one teacher to 6 children, I plan to create an educative community for all the children. The plan ensures that for every learning session, one teacher would be able to focus on only six children hence giving them the maximum attention required in the community class. Moreover, the outdoor place-based education program proposed a 1:4 ratio to maximize abilities and effectively managed students and efficiently prepare for the lessons. Thus, the school’s 500 children will be well managed by 25 teaching staffs and 11 subordinate staffs.
The schools host children between the ages of three to eight years. At three years, the children join the kindergarten on preferential level one baby care which is more focused on their behavioral development than academic development. The level integrates the students to understand and accommodate one another through participatory roles and games. The children legible for the program are of level two and three with an age bracket of five to eight years. The age selection considered the contextual ability of the children. The knowledge of garden inputs and benefits require the children to participate in the preparation, development, safeguarding of the garden as a way of understanding and protecting the environment. The program creates a sense of cultural and economic consumerism protection of the children at a younger age. Therefore, they are taught to appreciate and protect the environment through a kindergarten garden and encourage to introduce the concept to their parents to buy flowers, fruits, and vegetables from their garden.
Local Resources used and Areas of Interest
The program looks up to locally available resources in the community to set up its PB project. Some of the items used included recycled fast-food bags to elaborate on the importance of item recycling in environmental preservation as part of the program. The program acquires plant bags, potteries, and teens of which are all available at the community garden. The community garden provide an area of interest since it pays homage to the entire process from seedling to harvesting. With previous activities on the community farm, the garden in cost effective since it emphasizes on product recycle as a way of environmental preservation. In addition, the program will seek an environmental and agricultural expertise from the subordinate staff in setting up the greenhouse, open garden and the seed nests. Thus, the program will prove to be cheaper and socially interactive considering its direct emphasis on social interaction and behavioral development as part of the larger community.
Summary of Research on Place-Based Education
The Place-Based (PB) early childhood program had great support from literally relevant studies. The sources document that validity and benefits of the program in early childhood development. A study by Fly (2010) on a PB model for K-12 Education in Tennessee outlines the benefits of the program on learners’ abilities and development. Coiled on experimented application at Tennessee institute, the author argues that the PB program increases the academic performance of learners. As opposed to the confined classroom model, the PB model creates an emphatic learning experience that builds interest and determination in learners. As such, the learners record high graduation rate and lesser absenteeism. The PB model also exonerates greater rapport between the teachers and their students. The improved relational connection between learners and teachers creates an easy environment for interchanging ideas and interaction. The author also argues that the model motivates learners thereby adequately preparing them for STEM fields (Fly, 2010). The highlighted benefits work in handy with reduced behavioral problems that derail learners’ academic progress. The author believes that the PB model is responsible for reliable social capital for the community. Therefore, by producing socially and culturally sound students, the model represents a positive development of society through motivated learners.
Hall (2015) examined how teachers implement PB education programs in early childhood. Supported by Ontario’s Ministry of Education, the study through the program builds on an educative approach to teach the communities on the importance of using PB in their kindergartens. The author furnishes the educational community with desirable tools needed to implement PB programs in their elementary schools. The author also includes challenges faced by teachers when practicing PB early childhood programs which equip schools with the necessary knowledge. The source incorporates a qualitative review of assessed PB in various environments as proof of its implacability. The study highlights improved academic performance and environmental conscientiousness as attributable benefits of the program. In addition, the study suggests that teachers have the ability to implement the PB program in all subjects depending on their mode of engagement. Therefore, based on the author’s successful implementation of the PB program on early childhood development, this program too is deemed to succeed upon implementation.
Emphasis/Vision of PB Education Program
The PB early childhood program looks at creating an interactive and inferential learning environment for the children. Therefore, by focusing on the place-based program, the children are given a set of relevant and holistic avenues to enjoy acquiring knowledge of basic life, character development, and environmental issues.
Mission of the PB Education Program
To give every child an opportunity to maximize their character development and intellectual prowess through experimental place-based learning.
Description of your PB Education Curriculum
The ABC elementary school will incorporate an inter-curriculum development plan for the holistic development of the children. The program will dispels the community garden as the place of study considering the high children’ instincts on environmental issues. The program chose the “community garden” because of its easy accessible, affordable, and quite relevant to the social education in the community. In addition, the garden is quite cost-effective and economically relevant to the community and the institution. With a cost of $2000 for the farm equipment, the program will in return produce vegetables that could be served to the children, staffs, and parents as a salad on visit days. The program also offers the institution a profitable partnership with neighboring farms to help in agricultural techniques and farm management. Thus, the program puts together the entire institution into brainstorming the most explorative but affordable education development for all children.
The program sets precedent for children’s integrated understanding of their natural environment and day to day activities. The Place-based program is used as a tool that bridges the gap between what the students experience in their environment and what inductive education system offers in the classroom. Themed on environmental and basic life, the program is built on crafting basic knowledge and growth of the children. For instance, the children are aware of many food types but with little knowledge of the sources of the food they eat. Therefore, The ABC elementary place-based garden equips the children with the basic knowledge of understanding the simplest concepts of their life through the garden.
The PB lessons begin with an introduction to the basic community’s practices on environment and agriculture. With the assistance of experienced teachers in the institution, the program gives every child the opportunity to understand the genesis of plants in the simplest terms without jamming their mental abilities. At the same time, the program will introduces the anticipatory notion of the “dream salad” to the children. Based on their care sensitivity, every child looks up to treating their parents with salad proceeds of their garden activities. The concept is introduced to the children to build their anticipatory being and concentration on the PB instructions. Thus, the need for step by step involvement of the children.
At the planting the face, the children will be taught about care and protection. The same is simulated in their own lives where they are taught to care and protect one another. The stage has so far proved instrumental in eliminating bullying among the children. The same applies to treatments and harvesting. In addition, the program also teaches the children how to reuse certain waste products like lunch tins to grow extra vegetables and flowers. At the end of the program, each child is given a flower to take home as a way to extend their intellectual and character development outside the school compound. They are required to make pictorial documentation of their lessons which is more attractive to children than written notes. Thus, the PB programs make learning exciting, memorable, and inferential to children.
Developmental Activities and Materials (STREAM)
The PB program is incorporated into a competency-based evaluation method thereby being applicable in science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and mathematics (STREAM). The program covers learners-based elementary education. Thus, the program blends into the various subjects of the children’s development.
Science: The science is applied in the program through an explanation of the basic food chain and diet balance to the children. The program explains how food moves from the garden to the table and the importance of understanding the ecological system in community sustainability. Thus, the need for the parent salad day to explain the importance of a balanced diet.
Technology: The program incorporates visual and pictorial analysis tools in place of the handwritten work. The method interest students by creating liable memories of their studies.
Reading: The reading concept is more accommodative by creating a rotation color and symbolic reading. The program uses the pictures as word gestures considering the attractiveness of visual elements to the elementary children.
Engineering: The engineering emphasis of the program is used as a supportive element rather than direct children’s education. The teachers will research and make recommendations on waste management but the children will only have a basic glance on that concept through reuse of equipment.
Arts: The art concept is incorporated into the visual and pictorial representation of the learning process to emphasize the concept of their utility.
Mathematics: The program assumes basic mathematical assumptions of balance to arrange plant trays on the leveled ground during gardening. The same concept is replicated in the tinned flowers planted by the children. The tool gives emphasis on children’s understanding of basic counts
Professional Development for Administrators and Faculty in the Program
The success of the PB’s service learning requires proper preparation of the teachers as crucial segments of implementation. The program through the school’s administration has put in place an integrated continuous professional development (CPD) that equips teachers with the required skills to manage the children. In addition, early childhood education being skill-centered, the program has efficiently placed measures to interconnect the learning centers. The administrators and teachers are regularly trained by PB experts at the start of every academic term to ensure the right knowledge dissemination. The CPD focuses on learner-approach techniques and meaningful community services. Therefore, the ABC Elementary school teachers and administrator are skillfully prepared to handle the PB early childhood programs.
Program Implementation and Timeline
The ABC elementary PB program assumes an official educational implementation timeline. As stipulated by the school regulations, the program is in a premonitory stage that requires assumed assessment based on observable features. In exception to the teaching practice framework, the program will be fully implemented on approval by the local education representatives. The stage of implementation is often referred to as the test or experimental stage. The position considers the program part of the teaching practice. Therefore, the implementation of the program is ongoing as part of the teaching practice in ABC elementary school.
The PB program has a three-month implementation timeline. The first month covers the premonitory stage, the second month is an experimental application stage, and the third month is the assessment stage. Thus, the program assumes the simple timeline to allow for the implementation of the program within the stipulated three-month teaching practice timeline.
Assessment Plan for Impact and Effectiveness of PB
The assessment plan is learners-centered as opposed to the traditional teacher-centered approach. The approach gives the right information on the collective and differential attribute of each child with regard to the place-based early childhood program. The teachers evaluate each child’s response at the end of each activity to rate the impact and effectiveness of the program on their development. However, so far the program has recorded a positive flow in the children’s intellectual and behavioral development. Since the introduction of the program, aggression, tolerance, care, and group work among the children have increased. The children’s memorization of concepts is also enhanced through concept visualization. Therefore, the plan is proving effective and positively impactful on the behavioral and intellectual development of the children.
Fly, M. J. (2010). A place-based model for K-12 education in Tennessee. Department of Forestry, Wildlife, & Fisheries College of Agriculture Sciences and Natural Resources The University of Tennessee–Knoxville, TN. http://web.utk.edu/~markfly/documents/Place-Based%20K-12%20Education%20Proposal%205_10_10.pdf
Hall, R. (2015). Implementing place-based education in the elementary classroom. https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/bitstream/1807/68678/1/Hall_Rachel_C_201506_MT_MTRP.pdf
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