A community of young learners who thrive with purpose.

Our Pedagogy

Our approach to learning is grounded in a great respect for the child, and a dedication to research-driven practice. Our philosophy of inquiry-based learning finds its antecedents in constructivist learning theories, such as the work of Piaget, Dewey, Vygotsky, and Freire among others. We believe learning-by-doing and development of practical life skills are crucial to children’s education. 

Inquiry-based learning begins with a question, problem or idea. Children take the lead in planning and carrying out investigations, proposing explanations and solutions, and communicating their understanding of concepts in a variety of ways. Throughout the process, children observe, raise questions, engage, experiment and reflect. This trans-disciplinary approach encourages collaboration and can be used effectively across and as a thread connecting all subject areas.

Play is the most fruitful opportunity for learning and growth. Learning at Big and Tiny looks and feels like play, but observation highlights the intentional and consistent integration and cultivation of expressive skills and habits of inquiry. We work with families and circles of support to figure out ways to incorporate these practices and strategies beyond the classroom in home and community settings so that your child approaches their future with curiosity, hope and a believe that learning is fun.

Not only is art a mode for expression and communication, it is also a tool for developing cognitive, physical, social and emotional skills. At Big and Tiny we implement Arts Integration through the entire curriculum and utilize Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) to encourage and facilitate the development of critical thinking and multiple literacies for students as young as 2 years old. Using open-ended questions and imagination-based journeys, we create engaging and personalized learner-centered environments for young children while introducing them to the art world and providing them with the foundations to use their imagination constructively. 

Learning Process

Role of the Educator

Our passionate and highly experienced team of master teachers and master artists work together to create the appropriate environment for collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. Our educators spend one-on-one time with each child, listening to them, taking their ideas seriously and guiding them toward self-directed activities that are both academically relevant and personally satisfying. We believe that students show and tell you how they learn best and it is a teacher’s job to hear and incorporate those insights into the foundations of the classroom.

Educators will:

  • Recognize opportunities to initiate inquiry through a question, problem or idea.
  • Support children to theorize, hypothesize and wonder.
  • Provide opportunities for children to become more confident and autonomous problem-solvers and thinkers.
  • Design and organize  learning experiences that can be repeated or returned to, and that lend themselves to active engagement in purposeful learning.
  • Generate data collection, analysis, portfolios and exhibitions.

Role of the Student

Big and Tiny believes in a student-guided curriculum that positions the child as an active participant in the learning process. Children initiate the inquiry by posing factual and exploratory questions based on their passions, curiosities and experiences. Using these interests as a catalyst, our educators will provide a variety of personalized learning journeys that enable each student to explore their interests in meaningful and constructive ways.

Students will:

  • Work as researchers, inferring, hypothesizing, predicting, investigating, experimenting and recording.
  • Use their skills in decision-making, planning and problem solving.
  • Reflect, rethink, reframe their questions, problems or ideas.
  • Share new learning with others and plan for future learning.

Classroom Environment

The classroom at Big and Tiny is designed with multiple adaptable workspaces to facilitate both individual work and small and large group collaborations. We provide children access to a diversity of resources, tools and materials so they can experiment with various approaches to thinking and creating while developing the foundations of independence and self-actualization.

  • Art Lab with easels, painting and art equipment.
  • Performance space with costumes, props and a puppet theatre.
  • Pretend play area for imagination-based explorations.
  • Reading nook with books from around the world.
  • Science station full of experiments. 
  • Building and design station.
  • Green Space with fish tank and plants.
  • Tactile Corner with water and sand.
  • Music studio with digital and analog instruments.
  • Rugs, sofa, and poufs.

Documentation

Our learning wall is the visual display of artifacts gathered together that represents students’ thinking about different issues and topics. This is, the journey of the group’s thinking and learning over a period of time. Our teachers at Big and Tiny give careful attention to the documentation and presentation of the thinking of the students, which helps them build the curriculum and organize group and individual projects.

Our Pillars

Student Centered

The role of the student at Big and Tiny is transformed from a passive consumer of facts and content into an active contributor to the learning experience and the exploration of problems, ideas and solutions. It is in this experience that understanding is constructed and rich learning occurs. Voice and choice are at the heart of these settings as the learner helps create the learning conditions and learning outcomes with the teacher.

Diversity and Inclusion

We at Big and Tiny understand that exposure to diverse voices is an integral part of developing a compassionate, tolerant, and well-rounded worldview. Several stories and discussions rooted in various cultures and traditions are incorporated in the curriculum.

Parent Involvement

At Big and Tiny we see parents as partners in their children’s education. Our goal is to create a bridge between a child’s academic life in school and outside of school. Our mission is to create inspiring places where parents are not only welcome, but are connected, appreciated and supported.

Other Influences

Big and Tiny’s education framework is most invaluably influenced by the following thinkers, texts and theories, among many others.

  • Montessori & Reggio Emilia early childhood education philosophies.
  • Abigail Housen and Philip Yenawine’s Visual Thinking Strategies.
  • “Visual Thinking Strategies: Using Art to Deepen Learning Across School Disciplines” and “Visual Thinking Strategies in Pre-School” by Philip Yenawine.
  • The Zone of Proximal Development & The Sociocultural Theory of Learning, by Lev Vygotsky.
  • Concept of multiple intelligences, theorized by psychologist Howard Gardner. 
  • Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, by Thomas Armstrong.
  • Teaching for Joy and Justice, by Linda Christensen.
  • The Power of Inquiry, by Kath Murdoch.
  • Negotiating Critical Literacies with Children, by Vivian Maria Vasquez.
  • The Child and the Curriculum, by John Dewey.
  • Jean Piaget’s theory of The Four Stages of Development.

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