I remember, with a frown and shake of my head, when my mother mentioned her confusion and disappointment at my choice of career in childcare after obtaining multiple degrees in intercultural studies and having my UC Berkeley degree focus in cultural ideology and the political economy of globalization. It makes absolute sense to me though! During a particularly difficult class (a cross-discipline of cognitive science and linguistics) called Mind and Language, I learned about how the brain “learns” and processes logic and emotion. I took this class only because cognitive science is a little hobby/interest of mine, but it changed my career direction. I became enthralled with the process of learning and thinking and found that the greatest neural development occurs in early childhood (birth to eight-years).
As a childcare provider and teacher, I am literally and figuratively shaping the minds of the next generation! It is the greatest honor and greatest responsibility! As I continued my academics in child development, I found a breadth of learning areas that go far beyond the ABCs and 123s. Socialization, learning and teaching styles, cultural awareness, self-regulation, personal enrichment, and the family-peer-school dynamic make a life long impact on each child!
As an academic achievement counselor and instructor at U.C. Berkeley, helping transfer students adapt to the rigors of Cal academics and the social opportunities of academic and extracurricular groups, I found myself more and more seeing how important it was for a school to offer diverse programs for the unique needs of each student. Given the proper resources, no matter what their concerns were–students with disabilities, working full-time, being parents, military veterans, first-generation college students, mental health challenges, and so many more–they were able to thrive. Rather than being a burden, these special concerns become experiences that shape a person’s perspective on school, socialization, and their capabilities. I have had many tears and many hugs from students after they found the tools to cope with their issues and develop their strengths–this has been, after raising my own children, one of my most profound experiences.
While reflecting on another class I taught at Cal as an Undergrad, an interdisciplinary class on critical thinking, I realized that learning was also based on a personal perspectives rather than just learning and teaching styles, the former which are as unique as fingerprints because they are based–primarily–on subjective (personal) experience. When I started my professional teaching, child development, and early childhood education courses, I was able to construct this amazing and unique program based on substantiated research and educational practices.
There was soooooo much more, but a long-story-short is that an idea emerged for me about learning and personal development: one way is not ideal for all people, but all ways are ideal for one person.
There are so many brilliant educators and philosophers that have developed educational pedagogies, theories, and systems to bring out the best in children; however, each child is as unique as their fingerprint! How then to create the best learning environment for each child? This is what I strive to develop at Avalon: an evolving, adaptable combination of proven pedagogies and scientifically-based learning techniques that can be customized for the diverse needs of each student. With a low teacher-to-student ratio, one teacher for up to eight students, a small group of peers to interact with, and a model of unique perspectives as the foundation for learning, we can better achieve the social and academic development goals for an individual.
Study after study has shown that experiences in childhood will affect a person for their entire life. That is why providing each child with custom tools to succeed and have well-being is so important. My goal is for them to develop these tools, these learning abilities, so no matter what type of school or where in the world they go, they have a strong foundation to build their life upon.