At Home and Away: 5 Things to Know About How Tiny Trees Provides Positive Reinforcement for All Parenting Styles

Photo Courtesy of the Chippewa Nature Center

Photo Courtesy of the Chippewa Nature Center

By Cori Simmons

About 2 years ago I was flipping through a Vanity Fair magazine when I stumbled across what appeared to be a parenting article. As this is not standard Vanity fare, it piqued my curiosity. The topic of the article was RIE method parenting which, though introduced in the United States in 1973, had recently become the parenting trend du jour in Hollywood, largely as a back-to-basics reaction to the revolving-door of parenting fads of the last decade. This Spring, I was introduced to Tiny Trees Preschool and my first thought was: finally! Seattle parents now have a reasonably priced, safe and structured preschool option to participate in some RIE method concepts without having to be a child-care expert or a Hollywood big-wig. More importantly, however, was my realization that Tiny Trees works not just for RIE method parents but for most, if not all, other parenting methods as well.

As most parents already know, there is no one parenting method that is better than another. All children, all parents and all families are beautifully different. This is why it is so important for preschools like Tiny Trees to be supportive, respectful and helpful to all parenting methods. Tiny Trees uses the High Scope curriculum, a well-established and researched formula that focuses on achieving academic growth through the quality of the interaction between teacher and the student. This high quality interaction is the key element that makes Tiny Trees fit in so well with so many parenting methods. If there’s one thing all parenting methods strive for it’s meaningful, positive intellectual growth in a youngster!

Here are just a few parenting styles from across the spectrum and how Tiny Trees complements these methods:

Free-Range Kids: The main idea behind “free-range kids” or “free-range parenting” is to allow children to explore wherever their curiosity takes them, whether next door, down the street or well beyond what most parents would consider “in-bounds”. While Tiny Trees does not allow children out of the sight of caregivers or outside of the day’s set boundary, it does engage children and their curiosity in a dynamic, real and rich sensory environment. There are many benefits to conducting preschool outdoors (like social and physical development), including building a child’s trust of self and understanding how to adapt to changing environments, the same benefits that are the cornerstone of the free-range method.

Evolutionary Parenting: Evolutionary Parenting could be described as the ultimate back-to-basics parenting approach as it draws primarily on the science behind humanity’s shared history of child-rearing. Sometimes called “stone age” parenting, this method focuses on the balance between a child’s independence and inter-dependence on others. At Tiny Trees, students are immersed in just that balance; learning and exploring in a stimulating, messy, hot, cold, wet, dry and everything-in-between environment while being guided, encouraged and cared for by teachers. This balance helps young children learn action-consequence relationships in a substantial but safe manner, leading to more developed critical thinking skills.

RIE Method Parenting: RIE stands for Resources for Infant Educarers and revolves around the idea of respecting a child as an independent being. A key part of the RIE method philosophy is speaking to children in complex language and allowing children to make choices about activities and actions. Part of the High Scope curriculum that Tiny Trees uses involves just that: educators commit to speaking to children in complex language, writing in front of students and playing guessing games that challenge young children to express independent thought. These practices, part of high quality teacher-student interaction, lead to literacy and independent thought, among other advantages. You can read more about RIE method parenting in this summary I wrote for Tiny Trees here.

Paleo Wolf Pack Parenting: “Paleo parenting” is rooted in distinguishing information from physical experience. For example, learning in a classroom is how we gather information, whereas exploring in the woods is how we gain physical experience. It goes without saying, as the Tiny Trees school day is held outside, that physical experience is a significant part of the Tiny Trees curriculum. Studies show that physical experience leads to more imaginative play and world-building, which develops problem solving, empathy and the ability to separate emotion and cognition.

Winging It: Perhaps the oldest parenting method of all and unquestionably, the most common! Raising a child takes a lot, arguably everything, of what you have to give. Tiny Trees was founded on one principle: high-quality, affordable preschool for all. No matter what parenting method you ascribe to, all parents want their child to be given the best possible start in life. This is what makes Tiny Trees so special; it’s specifically developed to offer children the most stimulating environment that exists – the outdoors – coupled with a curriculum with a 50-year legacy of success, recommended by the City of Seattle as a standard of care for their preschool program. So if you, like most of us, adhere mainly to the “Wing It Parenting” method, Tiny Trees is the right early education opportunity for you and your child.

To learn more about the Tiny Trees curriculum, check it out here. Stay tuned for more articles about early child education and the Tiny Trees approach.

Cori Simmons is a Seattle-based communications specialist. Cori spent 10 years as a children’s sports coach and special needs swim instructor, teaching children to cope with disabilities through independent physical activity. She also spent 2 years as a volunteer in the Childhaven 0-18 month unit.

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