Did you know CCA’s first harvest of apples occurred this year in the garden? After several years of tending, caring and watching…Apples! And every kindergartener will say, “They were tasty!” Now we watch the blossoms fade with the hope of new apples next Fall.Lots of growing is taking place around here. Yes, apples, but even better… kindergarteners are growing! Just as our apple tree needs the tender care of a gardener, every young child needs the attention of a teacher to nourish healthy development.
Our CCA Pre-Grammar Head, Myrandi Ballesteros, guides teachers to provide a program that incorporates best practices for teaching young children spiritually, classically, and age-appropriately. These practices line up beautifully with Matthew 22:37, You shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart, all your soul, and with all your mind. While educating young students, teachers enrich their development toward the greatest fruit of loving God and loving others.
How is this happening?
How are teachers gardening the development of our young children?
Teachers are gardening a child's spiritual development by caring for the heart.
To step into a classical kindergarten classroom is to be greeted with the sounds and sights of young students eager to soak up the truth, goodness and beauty of God and His World. Bible lessons are prepared to study, worship and praise God. Scripture memorization happens daily. When God is given first place, even in a kindergarten classroom, it is a day rightly ordered in love and honor to Him.
If the ultimate goal is to begin young students toward true wisdom, it must first be through the Scriptures (Littlejohn & Evans). The study of God’s Word sets the foundation for all further learning. Classical kindergarten teachers will biblically integrate God and His Word into every curriculum area. During a science lesson a child might ask, “Did God make airplanes?” and the answer will be, “God made everything necessary to build an airplane, and then gave men the ideas to make them.” Molding hearts to honor God first sets a classical Christian kindergarten classroom apart.
Teachers are gardening a child's virtue development by cultivating the soul.
Classical kindergarten educators nurture each young student toward reaching the higher understanding of virtue. Education is clearly concerned with cultivating virtue. The acquisition of virtue in the body, soul and mind is precisely the purpose of education (Clark & Jain). Character qualities are discussed, and cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance) are taught. Selections of literature are chosen such as William J. Bennett’s, The Children’s Book of Virtues. Fables, traditional rhymes, and classic stories are enjoyed. Each of these practices have purpose to instill moral and social development in young children.
Teachers are gardening a child's mental development by challenging the mind.
Young children are growing up in a culture where they can mindlessly absorb through media and technology. It is most crucial for a classical kindergarten educator to reclaim minds of young students with valuable learning methods. Anything and everything which can be usefully committed to memory should be memorized at this period (Littlejohn & Evans). Classical kindergarten teachers understand the importance of memorization and provide cross-curricular opportunities for young learners. The learning environment is set to engage the senses with activities for taste, touch, smell and sight.
For example, young children enjoy a wide range of curriculum in the study of “Patriotism”. As historical figures are recalled, maps are retraced, coin names are memorized, American poetry is recited, patriotic songs are sung, and words as “flag” are spelled…students successfully engage in a completely interconnected experience. Learning occurs and more importantly learning is remembered!
Teaching young children requires not merely teaching a soul, a mind…or a heart, it is teaching a small person with all. The whole point of a classical early childhood education will be to integrate both intellect and faith (Riesen). Many seeds are sown into kindergarten hearts on a daily basis. These seeds will take time to grow into full maturation. Yet, kindergarten teachers nurture development with the hope of future fruit. Christian education properly considered always includes the goal that students will use their schooling to impact the world around them (Littlejohn & Evans).
Just like the sweetness of apples, by faith there will be delight of fruitfulness to come for each young child.
Other early education blogs that might interest you are: