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As we look to grow young learners into the leaders of tomorrow, we know that high-quality early childhood education is paramount. While teaching children early academics, it’s also critical to go beyond the ABC’s and 123’s to ensure our students grow into compassionate and caring members of society. As educators, it’s our responsibility to teach young children that they can make a big difference in the world, and the way we do that at Big Blue Marble Academy is through service learning.

What is service learning?
Service learning is an instructional approach that addresses the learning needs of the whole child by combining service activities with specific educational and developmental goals. It opens the opportunity for young learners to make important connections between curricular content, early learning standards and the world around them.

An important aspect of child development shows that young children seek power, even as early as two years old. From inception, children are told what to do and this can create power struggles between child and adult. When children realize that they have the ability, and therefore power, to solve real-world problems through service learning, it’s an invaluable lesson that shows they are capable of making a difference in the world.

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Why is it important for children to participate in service learning at a young age?
Service learning supports young children on their journey to become caring and responsive members of society, so why wait to start teaching them? As children learn from an early age that it “feels good to do good,” they grow into good neighbors and involved citizens. With this method, children are challenged to think critically and creatively while practicing essential skills such as collaboration and communication.

There are proven benefits of service learning in early childhood development—the practice promotes social responsibility, positive citizenship, problem-solving, empathy and compassion. As children work together to address authentic needs, they also practice new skills and reinforce knowledge in meaningful ways. Additionally, as children collaborate to identify their goals and how to best achieve them, they enhance executive functioning skills and are empowered when challenged to use their heads, hand and hearts to address problems.

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Big Blue Marble Academy’s approach to service learning
Now more than ever, there is an important focus on fostering both the academic and social-emotional learning needs of the whole child. Big Blue Marble Academy, a leader in early childhood education, is committed to a programmatic approach to service learning that involves students in every step of the process and aids cognitive, physical, social and emotional growth. BBMA’s whole-child focus integrates service learning into its research-based global curriculum through Heart Projects. An innovative program implemented in all 44 schools, including its Edison, NJ location, Big Blue Marble Academy’s Heart Projects give back to local and global communities, and instill acts of kindness, acts of service and life skills from a very young age. Big Blue Marble Academy’s distinctive approach to service learning develops character and prepares children for the next step in their academic journey and beyond.

Exclusive to New Jersey Family: Enroll by February 14th to get free registration and a $100 tuition credit for the first three months of enrollment.  

Donna Whittaker is Vice President, Curriculum and Education at Big Blue Marble Academy. With over 40 years in early childhood education, her expertise brings focus to the quality of education for all of our children and enables teachers to heighten their skills and professional development in classroom instruction. Most recently, Whittaker served as BBMA Education Director and has delivered tremendous value over the past two-and-a-half years by developing a new curriculum structure and improving the content and cohesiveness of BBMA’s infant, toddler, twos, and preschool curriculum. She also led the development of the Mindfulness and Character program.

Read More: Why a Global Curriculum Is Right for Today’s Preschooler