Early Education Foundation Statements
ACSI's Early Education Mission
ACSI offers early education services (birth through year five) that exist to strengthen early education programs and equip early educators as they prepare young children spiritually, socially, emotionally, physically and cognitively and influence young children to love and follow Jesus Christ.
ACSI's Early Education Vision
ACSI will become a recognized leader in Christian education providing professional training and resources for early education programs and educators. ACSI desires programs and educators that:
- Focus on the holistic approach to teaching and learning and that
- Are biblically sound, developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant
- Embody a biblical worldview, engage in transformational teaching, practice discipleship, and embrace personal and professional growth.
ACSI's Early Education Core Values
ACSI upholds a worldview that is based on principles found in God's Word, the Bible. Christian early educators are influencers who align their prevailing biblical worldview in all areas of instruction, classroom environment and developmentally appropriate practices.
Christian early educators believe all children:
- Are made in the image of God. Genesis 1:26
- Are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalms 139:14
- Are sinners in need of a Savior. Romans 3:23
- Have lives marked with a purpose. Jeremiah 29:11
- Are valued by God. Matt. 19:14
Christian early educators are effective when they:
- Understand the importance of educating and discipling the whole child and fostering individual growth in each student related to personality, temperament and culture
- Respect God's developmental design by recognizing young children think, grow, and learn differently than older children and plan for age-appropriate learning strategies.
- Commit to being a life-long learner and leader by continuously pursuing spiritual and professional growth.
- Communicate and collaborate effectively while maintaining a Christ-like attitude with supervisors, colleagues, parents, and the community at large.
- Model God's unconditional love while upholding biblical Christian values.
- Partner with parents in the education of their children.
- Lead from a position of servanthood.
Principles to Inform Practice
ACSI Early Education believes that the following principles form a biblical foundation for instructional and programmatic decision-making to offer the best developmental and educational experience for children. In addition, these principles are the foundation of ACSI's Principles & Practices of Christian Early Education course, and are a vital part of a Christian early educator's pedagogy.
Christian early educators hold a biblical worldview based upon deeply held core values centered on God's Word, the Holy Bible, and using those values, develop their own personal philosophy of teaching young children.
Early Childhood Development
Developmentally and age-appropriate practices are a result of biblically-based, research informed concepts providing understanding of how young children grow and learn. Such practices involve teaching to the developmental domains of the whole child: spiritual, social, emotional, physical, and cognitive. These practices meet children where they are in their unique God-designed development, allowing for achievable goals while encouraging challenge and independent exploration. Developmentally appropriate practices take into consideration the ability, interest, culture, diversity, personality and temperament of each child.
Appropriate Activities for Children
Play is a vital part of the young child's learning experience and allows them to experience God's world, express themselves, learn to manage relationships, regulate behaviors and foster imagination. Early educators include a variety of differentiated learning opportunities supporting God's design for how each child learns. Activities include a balance of teacher-guided instruction and child-initiated exploration. Effective teaching is seen when scaffolding (layered support and instruction) is present, providing repetition of information and experiences for the child.
Teacher as Facilitator
Early educators develop biblically based curriculum plans centered on how young children think and learn best. The curriculum framework for instruction includes curriculum selection, planning, the learning environment, designed learning experiences, exploration, adult-child interactions, home-school relationships and community-ministry involvement. Early educators employ strategies for instruction that offer a high degree of individual support for the child and set benchmarks and expectations that encourage rigor along with support to achieve these goals. All instruction is integrated with biblical concepts, precepts, and principals to develop an environment that fosters a personal faith in Christ. Early educators continually gather data assessing children's learning and emerging competencies which informs the direction of future instruction.
The goal of Christian early education discipline is to disciple (teach) by guiding not by punishing. Early educators disciple (teach) children with nurturing love while utilizing preventative approaches, engaging environments, and clear expectations to help children be successful. Children are given age-appropriate boundaries and guidance that allows them to feel safe, loved and accepted. Educators understand the importance of teaching and nurturing self-regulation skills and the ability to negotiate relationships and care for others. This includes intervention strategies that model for children (and families) skills that enable them to be successful in learning and life.
Influence of the Classroom Environment
The Christian early educator understands the importance of the indoor and outdoor learning environments and designs a rich atmosphere which provides a variety of safe and reassuring stimuli for the different needs of each learner. A wide variety of age appropriate opportunities are provided to help move each child towards mastery of skills and concepts. Decisions about classroom resources and materials are planned and implemented with each child in mind reflecting a Biblical worldview.
The Christian early educator places a high importance on developing consistent, appropriate and godly relationships with his/her students, family members, peers and supervisors. Their attitude and performance in the work environment is based on God's Word and every effort is made to carry out constructive communication with all stakeholders.
Importance of Personal Growth
Early educators are professionally trained and actively engage in ongoing professional development providing a continuing growth of their skills, strategies and pedagogy. As educators show evidence of spiritual and professional growth and their calling to teach young children, they use the information to self-reflect, modify and adapt their teaching skills to meet the needs of each student. Educators regularly share training information and collaborate with their peers for ongoing professional growth and leadership development.
Since Peter Greer and Chris Horst wrote their inspirational book Mission Drift in 2014, Christian organizations have rightly focused on ways to remain true to their mission for the long term. Greer and Horst coined the term “Mission True” to denote organizations whose missions are truly their North Star. Inherent in the title of the book, and articulated throughout the chapters, is the assumption that organizations will default to drifting away from their mission—unless they intentionality guard that mission.
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