Think Tank Describes Strengths of Learning Basket
Friday, November 11, 2011
Posted by: Tom Wray
On October 22 and 23, a group of educators and practitioners gathered as part of a Think Tank to discuss the unique strengths of the Learning Basket approach. The group was composed of practitioners from Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Illinois as well as Ontario.
The gathering provided the opportunity to share perspectives gained after working for multiple years in 16 schools in the Chicago and Phoenix area as well as with a variety of cultural groups.
Some of the strengths of the approach included engaging parents as partners in nurturing the development of young children; acknowledging and affirming cultural differences; flexibility of the approach which complements school outreach initiatives and home visiting requirements as well as multiple curricula; incorporating multiple domains of learning that are consistent with learning standards of Head Start and state standards of Illinois, Arizona and New Mexico; embedds critical thinking and problem solving in learning materials and strengthens parents to be contributors to their children’s learning experience.
Those gathered for the session blended their perspectives and experience to determine the critical strategic actions needed to position the Learning Basket approach as a resource to address the concern for School Readiness. The group determined that the program emphasizes the power of cultural differences and identity, and the importance of socio-emotional development for both children and parents. The result is a much-needed emphasis to programs concerned with children’s learning success.
In the early 1960s before the advent of Head Start, the ICA developed a research-based approach to nurturing the learning of children from infants to three years old. This approach was developed in the 5th City Preschool Institute which included an Infant School and a Mini School for toddlers. For the past 15 years, ICA-USA has carried forward this pioneering work in the Learning Basket program, which has reached underserved families in seven states in the United States as well as internationally. The Learning Basket has inspired the development of similar programs that have engaged parents across the world as well as in the United States.