SEEDS stands for Sustainable Early Education Development System.
Sustainable means something is utilized yet is replenished before being completely used up or destroyed. In this case, the early education development system we devised can be viewed as being inexhaustible.
“Early” refers to ECE (Early Childhood Education; the education of preschool to kindergarten children). This can take place in or out of formal educational institutions. As a matter fact, most children get their earliest education outside the school system from uncertified teachers, many of whom have never graduated from college. Those teachers are called parents.
Education is from the Latin words “ex” (out of) and “ducere” (to lead). We see it as leading out of ignorance and toward enlightenment. At an individual level, it is leading what is inside a child and bringing outside of the child to be revealed to the teacher. The teacher then facilitates the learning process by getting the child to reflect on the child’s knowledge and how it connects to the other bits of knowledge both in the child and in the rest of the world. As Natalie pointed out in her Friday, August 29, 2014 blog “Seven Steps to Creating a Productive Project Based Environment”, teaching in many classrooms is more of a pouring in than a leading out process. SEEDS takes a student centric approach. It uses the natural curiosity of students to show parents and teachers what to facilitate and teach. It is much like asking children what they want to eat for lunch. If you ignore their requests and serve what YOU want, well…don’t be surprised if they are not enthusiastic about lunch. The challenge is to make a lunch that comes close to their request but which is tasty, nutritious, wholesome and enjoyable. The last part is determined by the knowledge and insightful parent. Admittedly, students may not always know what they may want to learn. Their curiosity is a pretty solid indicator that if you teach what they ask about, they will soak it up and learn it. It is the duty of the parent and teacher to select relevant academic content for a lesson to satisfy the students’ curiosity and to feed that curiosity to want to learn more. It goes without saying that parent and teacher needs to be creative and innovative to make the learning fun and enjoyable. Curiosity combined with play is how young children learn best.
Development is the process of growing or causing something to grow or become larger or more advanced. SEEDS created a generic approach for parents and teachers to have a fun way to facilitate the learning process for their children. The SEEDS process leads to developing a bright future for their children. Mr. Lee’s cyclic sayings for this is “Learn to develop; Develop to learn” and “Learn to play; Play to learn.”
A system is a collection of interrelated parts integrated into a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts. The SEEDS developmental system is synergistic and includes:
- Nurturing, fostering, protecting, and enrich students’ curiosity as the driving force and reason for SEEDS.
- Mr. Lee’s Community-based Education (C-bE) includes addressing different student learning styles, connecting students to nature and their communities.
- Geographic Systems (GSM) model integrated all life, physical, and social science allows parents and teachers to gain insights to the connectivity to the world around us.
- STEAM curriculum approach integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics to all S.E.E.D.S. indoor and outdoor project-based learning lessons / activities.
- Ms. Zartarian’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) methodologies empowers parents and teachers to be more interactive facilitators of a child’s education and learning.
The SEEDS catch phrase is “Making Education Sustainable, Teachable and Applicable to Everyday Concepts and Life.” Life is an ongoing process. In education, there are new students, teachers and parents entering and living in the system each year. “Making Education Sustainable” means SEEDS strives to continually adapt and evolve to be an accessible resource for present and future learners.
SEEDS makes lessons and activities teachable to young students by making it fun. We say interactive learning is “play” that went to college and got a PhD. SEEDS uses the natural curiosity and playfulness of children as the driving force to facilitate their learning. The most critical lessons in SEEDS are:
· Helping parents, teachers and students learn how best to learn.
· How students can have fun while learning.
· How students become life-long learners.
· How students can become functional and responsible community members.
SEEDS makes lessons teachable by using project-based learning drawing on STEAM concepts. The content is a mix of abstract (ideas and concepts) and tangible (physical objects). The project creates an interactive learning environment connecting students to nature and the daily facets of their community. The students readily see the connections between the abstract and the tangible lesson components by playing. As the students mature, they use the early acquired learning concepts and skills to continue learning the rest of their lives.
SEEDS makes it possible for teachers and parents to enable students to develop their own conceptual models for learning and for life. Our cyclic saying for this is “Educate to learn; learn to educate.” --- [this is a variant of Mr. Lee’s “Teach to learn; learn to teach.”]
But can preschool children, with limited language skills and experience really handle STEAM concepts? It is hard to imagine a child who can barely speak, read, or write engaging in project-based learning utilizing STEAM concepts. At 3-years old, a child’s brain is about 80% the volume of an adult brain. But it contains twice the number of synapses of an adult brain. From here on, the number of synapses declines due to lack of use. In basic terms, a child’s developing brain is building connections (synapses) to wire the brain based on stimulus from the environment. Repeated stimuli reinforce synapses. A synapse deteriorates when it lacking additional or repeated reinforcing stimuli. So it isn’t important for preschoolers to be pre-calculus enabled when they enter Kindergarten. It is very important that they have emotional and social skills to interact with others (peers and adults) in order to learn more effectively as they progress through the education system. Our primary goal is to keep curiosity alive by engaging young minds in systematic ways to make learning fun while developing their critical thinking skills. At the same time, their brains respond by reinforcing synapses for future learning and functioning.
Adults tend to define play as “an activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.” For children, play is the critical interaction with their environment that wires their brains for the rest of their lives. That seems pretty serious and practical stuff to us. This is why Natalie decided it was vital to integrate Community-based Education (C-bE), the Geographic Systems Model (GSM), and STEAM to be adapted for use in Early Childhood Education. The goal is to help parents and teachers address the curiosity of children by using interactive project-based lessons and activities to facilitate learning from the child’s perspective: play.
In a nutshell, SEEDS is a very systematic way to help parents and teachers answer the seemingly endless stream of questions that begin with “why?” Most adults get overwhelmed and are unable to adequately respond. This is the beginning of the death of a child’s curiosity. This starts the death of learning and empowerment. As the spark of curiosity is extinguished so dies the spark of hope for a better and happier future.