Inspired Explorations Learning Community (IELC) is an experiential, learner-centred learning community that partners with families to provide a holistic approach to educating children. We are a learning community that honour, value, and listen to children; where relationships among all community members provide the foundation for all learning.
IELC Vision, Mission, Beliefs & Values
To create a community of intergenerational lifelong learners who learn together, value each other and honour each other's authenticity. A community that creates a space to unfold naturally at one's own pace, evolve consciously and fosters socially compassionate and emotionally aware human beings.
Inspired Explorations Learning Community is dedicated to providing intergenerational programming to enhance; the embodiment of learning, the reflection and awareness of ones senses, the building of meaningful relationships, playing with purpose and to honour the developmental unfoldment of each member.
IELC is grounded in the belief that all children are competent, resourceful and creative with imagination and curiosity about the world around them. We value creativity, interests, ideas and questions of the children and adults within our community. We practice listening, observing, inquiring, staying attentive, and reflecting together with children and families.
We also hold the belief that all children should have opportunities to be physically active and connect with nature every day and learn the important connection between body, mind and spirit. We use Awareness through the Body as well as Forest and Nature School Inspired Pedagogy.
Believing that children speak to us in many languages making their thinking visible to us in many ways allows for children to honour their authenticity by sharing their ideas through a variety of modalities such as; words, drawing, numbers, dance, movement, painting, building, sculpture, shadow play, collage, drama, music and more.
Children use many kinds of materials to discover and express what they know, understand, wonder, feel and imagine. This belief guides our educational philosophy that the arts, music and movement are the cornerstone of a rich educational experience.
We also understand that children have different developmental needs. The needs of a 6 year old are much different than those of a 10 year old. Having this understanding allows us to mentor and guide children to meet their individual needs.
At IELC we value many forms of learning that arise within our exploratory community. We provide room for learners to discover, question, critically think and grow. We inspire learners to be mindful and conscious creators, innovators, change-makers, and physically literate human beings.
Our methods are influenced by holistic philosophy’s past and present including, but not limited to, Reggio Emilia, Self-Design, SongWorks, Awareness through the Body and Natural Learning Relationships. These methods are learner-centred, emergent, experiential, whole-child developmentally appropriate, and inquiry-based.
The following are the 5 Consequential Components that guide our practice and support our way of being within Inspired Explorations Learning Community.
1. Honouring Authenticity
- We meet children wherever they are along their developmental journey
- We recognize and value children’s interests and ideas
- We respect every learner’s learning style, needs, challenges and strengths
- We celebrate everyone’s right to be diverse and unique
- We value children’s expression of learning and how they choose to communicate their learning
2. Embodying Cognition
- We value the importance of hands-on, sensory-based activities
- We provide sensory-motor activities which intend to connect the sensory body with fine and gross motor actions
- We intend to engage children in experiences to practice basic movement skills which are the foundation for more complex sports and activities
- We provide children the opportunity to learn about their abilities and limits with regards to their body
- We believe in creating movement-focused activities that build foundational neuropathways for higher, more complex learning
3. Interconnecting Kinship
- We believe in providing a supportive community where it is our intention to have everyone feel welcomed, included, heard and celebrated
- We view children as whole, unfolding individuals that experience the world with their body, mind and soul
- We connect curricula from all subject areas intending to provide meaningful, relevant and holistic experiences
- We intend to nurture deep, meaningful relationships between staff and learners, between learner and learner, and between learner and environment (natural and classroom)
4. Reflecting Attentively
- We intend to engage children in self-reflective experiences involving emotions, sensations and actions
- We intend to expand consciousness with daily experiences of exploration of self
- We provide time for resolving conflicts through self-reflection and reflection of others’ emotions, actions and words
- We intend to develop self-awareness through mindful movement sequences
5. Purposely Playful
- We value play as a way to captivate children in meaningful learning
- We believe that playful learning engages the whole child
- We value many forms of play including exploratory, structured, physical, language, creative and pretend
- We notice and listen to what intrigues children and captures their attention
- We see all learning as playful
Our Essential Developmental Skills are the skills we believe are important for us to help children develop in order to be happy, compassionate, successful children. The following is a description of each:
- Physical Literacy: We engage our learners through movement within many of the experiences we offer. We also believe in developing an understanding of one’s physical capabilities and limits through the exploration of basic movement skills. These basic movement skills are the foundation for higher level cognitive learning as well as more complex skills required in many sports and physical activities.
- Creativity: We believe that all children are fundamentally creative. Not all creativity will show up through the arts, but we enrich our program with art, drama, music and storytelling on a daily basis. We also allow children to explore different ways of viewing objects and draw forth the imagination that they have by engaging in make-believe activities with them.
Creative Problem Solving is another way we engage the creative mind. When children are faced with a task that
could be approached in many different ways, we allow them the chance to develop the skill to offer suggestions, try
them out, and conclude the best solution. This allows children to analyze all situations with which they are faced.
Inquiry: All children are curious about the world around them. We are here to guide them and ask the appropriate questions to deepen their learning about a variety of topics. It is our hope that our learners stay open to asking many questions and that they develop the skills and resources to learn how to learn and be able to apply this knowledge when showing curiosity about any topic or interest. We want to lay the foundation for life-long learning.
- Social Development: Through structured and unstructured activities, it is our intention that learners will develop the ability to monitor and regulate their behaviour, work with others within a group, share with peers, take turns, deepen their compassion for others, respect all living things, as well as take responsibility for their impact on the world.
- Emotional Development: Understanding one’s own emotions takes self-reflection and looking inward. We have daily practices of Awareness through the Body which has learners checking in with themselves about how they feel and what they need. We also use self-reflection when conflict arises between learners and engage them in an understanding of how others may feel, developing empathy and compassion for others. It is our mission to develop mindfulness, joy and peace within each learner.
- Literacy (Exposure, Imaginative and Developmentally appropriate): We view literacy as a way to represent the world around us, a way to engage imagination, play with word sounds and learn symbols for the language we speak. We value reading and writing as core skills and engage learners in both when reading and writing readiness is present. We honour their pace, make words fun and playful and engage learners with topics of interest and those they are curious about.
- Numeracy (Number Sense and Problem Solving Skills): Working with numbers is like learning a new language. We work with learners on understanding how numbers represent the structure of our world and how to playfully approach basic number facts and strategies that make counting and number facts more efficient. We also use day to day problems to help learners work on their problem-solving skills and patterning skills.
At IELC we nurture the Consequential Components (values and beliefs) that inform our practice as educators, learners, and community members alike. The following is a chart that shows the connections between Consequential Components, our Essential Developmental Skills, and our Daily Experiential Practice.
How Natural Learning Relationships Informs Our Practice
Natural Learning Relationships are:
- Unique and powerful descriptions of human development and family systems with wide ranging applications in education (curriculum and teaching), staff and professional development, family relationships (inclusive of all family members), social justice (from environmental education to prejudice) and community empowerment.
- This way of knowing the learner is intended to be practical and enhance the life of all those who are engaging daily with our learners.
- These describe our essential qualities, or inherent capacities, which move us through life to gain knowledge, appreciation or mastery nurtured by mutual respect in which inspiration and wisdom emerge.
- Simply, we are ever changing complex systems with an inborn biological unfolding that is in a constant feedback loop with the environment. In this view, a developmental stage is defined by the way a learner organizes the world in each stage of life in relationship to context using all faculties and their interrelationship: cognitive, emotional, spiritual, and self-perception. Thus, knowledge is emergent.