THE S.M.I.L.E.S.™ APPROACH
The S.M.I.L.E.S.™ Approach is an approach of engagement and security; of nurturing and exploration. It prepares the brain for optimal growth and anticipates the future development of the 3 Minds. The acronym S.M.I.L.E.S.™ stands for: Sensory, Motor, Intellectual, Linguistic, Emotional and Social. It is a principle which acknowledges that brains, in their formative stages, need all aspects of the mind stimulated simultaneously – and that all activities (even the most mundane) contain the potential for providing experiences that engage all of the S.M.I.L.E.S.™ elements.
By constantly focussing on the creation of S.M.I.L.E.S.™ activities (or the expansion of existing ones to encompass the S.M.I.L.E.S.™ philosophy), the MindChamps teacher or ‘educarer’ becomes a potent source of age-appropriate stimulation for the mind hungry for the building-blocks of intellect.
The Bamboo Metaphor
The symbol of MindChamps Early Learning is the bamboo plant, one of the most successful plants in the world, because of the ‘preparation’ it goes through underneath the ground, before the extent of its development is apparent. A bamboo plant spreads by first extending roots and tendrils beneath the soil, giving the plant a firm hold on the essentials of water and nutrition – and an extensive physical foundation to sustain the mature plant – before the first shoots appear on the surface. Once it begins to ‘shoot’ however, it does so quickly and efficiently, because all the required elements are in place. The mature bamboo plant is resistant to almost all natural threats in its environment because it is flexible and every element of its structure supports every other.
The lesson of the bamboo can be applied to great effect when developing foundation programmes for young learners. MindChamps Early Learning introduces and carefully nurtures ‘foundation’ skills and strategies designed to create a cumulative effect, gradually developing competence in all key areas of development.
The 10 Key Roots of the Bamboo
Building on this metaphor, the 10 ‘key roots’ are the learning and development strategies which will underpin a young child’s mind, social and intellectual growth throughout childhood and into adulthood:
Champion Values and Social Skills are more important today than ever before, and they are learned young. Fear, of public speaking, of sharing our ideas – even fear of rejection – is a learned response; a behaviour programmed in childhood and lodged in the non-conscious mind.
Our young children need to develop their self-confidence and social skills – including their empathy and compassion – at an early age.
Young Children learn best through hands-on experiential activities – as exemplified in MindChamps’ ‘Crafted Play’. MindChamps’ Theatrical Strategies are developed from solid, established theatrical principles and practices.
Creativity and Creative expression are developed through exploration of diverse media, and through the employment of generative questions. Creativity & Theatrical Strategies are designed to engage young minds and bring life to every aspect of the curriculum.
Associative Thinking and Cognitive Strategies are developed in the programme through ‘relationship and connection’ questions and exercises, ‘cause and effect’ questions and exercises, problem-solving activities, and numeracy-based, language-based and inquiry-based learning activities.
With communication skills being critical to success in the 21st Century society, laying strong preschool foundations for language and communication is essential.
The MindChamps Communication Strategies are developed through a variety of engaging social language activities, which enables young children to develop their own responses.
Language skills are further enhanced through the specialised MindChamps Natural Literacy and Reading and Writing Programmes.
MindChamps’ Narrative Intelligence Strategies are designed to build a child’s mastery of learning domains through their natural affinity with stories and metaphors. These strategies are designed to create successful future readers, writers, storytellers (and learners), and provide an environment that nurtures the child’s love for story and reading.
This approach is based on the latest scientific research into language acquisition and the importance of a child’s engagement with language, rather than the discredited ‘drill and kill’ approach.
MindChamps has developed the ‘MindChamps Reading and Writing’ programmes especially for pre-readers and emerging readers.
They incorporate age-appropriate activities, including our unique ‘Say and Sing’ approach to developing phonemic and phonics awareness.
These strategies lead children to see several possible pathways to the final answer. Children learn to focus on the ‘how’ (process) of arriving at the answer – as opposed to simply memorising the algorithm (conventional method) for reaching the answer.
Fun numeracy activities lead children to understand the logic of numbers, number structures and patterns. Children also develop their own written and verbal language responses to number facts and relationships.
In a world where the environment is endangered, our children’s generation will need to act positively and effectively in relation to protecting the ecology.
Our Nature and Environmental Awareness Programme is an on-going priority and is developed in the curriculum through the exploration of themes: Me, My Family, My Friends, My Community and My World.
Decades of research have shown a strong and positively connected relationship between certain movements and cross-lateral neural development.
MindChamps NeuroMooves™ programme is scientifically designed and uses a variety of engaging and exciting developmentally appropriate activities, such as coordinated cross-lateral movements to help our children develop gross motor skills, musical intelligence, coordination and balance.
These developments help provide better blood-flow to the growing brain while laying neural foundations for a wide range of thinking skills.
Music for Learning and Life draws on the ground-breaking work of our World Advisory Giant, Dr Larry Scripp from the New England Conservatory – one of the World’s leading authorities on music and music integration in early childhood education.
Music is important in developing shared neural networks and integrating conceptual development in all areas of learning and social-emotional growth.
This is a new and exciting area of study in neurology and psychology, and in this area – as in many others – MindChamps PreSchool is significantly ‘ahead of the curve’!
Music, used in accord with the latest scientific research into integrated cross-domain learning, is the root that connects and empowers all the other roots, making Music for Learning and Life, a unique and vitally important development in the area of early childhood education.
What Makes a MindChampion?
The MindChamps Education and Life Philosophy of 100% RESPECT, Zero Fear nurtures children to become young Champions, distinguishable by the following 10 values:
- I am Confident
- I am Grateful
- I have Integrity
- I am Self-reflective
- I Focus on the Beauty in Others
- I Embrace Setbacks as SetUps
- I Value Feedback as a Seed for Growth
- I am Creative
- I am Compassionate
- I am a Life-long Learner