Next year, Primary School teacher Lauren Cilley will take on the exciting new role of Program Coordinator for Fay’s new Early Learning Center (ELC), an early childhood program for children ages two years, nine months through age five. This is Lauren’s seventh year teaching at Fay, and we caught up with her recently to talk about the ELC, what fascinates her about early childhood education, and her dream road trip.
How will your role change as you take on the position of ELC Program Coordinator?
This was my ninth year as a full-time classroom teacher. Next year, I’ll be planning curriculum, working with students and parents, and modeling teaching for our teachers and assistants. It will be rewarding to have one foot in the classroom and have an administrative role, too.
What’s new and different about the ELC program?
The program will still emphasize inquiry-based learning and hands-on, play-based learning, but now it will be more accessible to a larger number of children. The ELC will also offer more hours and more flexibility for parents.
Why is inquiry-based learning such a great way for kids to learn?
With inquiry-based learning, we do all our literacy and number work within the context of topics that the children are authentically interested in. This fall, for example, was all about pets. What better way to learn how to write than by asking a pet owner a question that you are curious about and writing down the answer? During our pet project, the children also created an imaginary pet store where they wrote numbers for the different costs of the pets in the store. The children’s inquiries are also scientific: they’re generating hypotheses, testing them, drawing conclusions, and communicating the information.
What draws you to working with young children?
In middle school, I had the opportunity to babysit during the day for a neighbor who had just had a baby. I looked after this little girl for three years, and I just fell in love with that age. Young children are so genuine, and they’re naturally curious and eager to learn. When they first learn their letters or learn how to write, they get so excited; it’s amazing to be a partner in that process and to guide them as they figure things out for themselves.
What do you do outside of Fay?
My husband and I love to travel. I’m going to Japan this summer, and we love to take road trips to national parks and go hiking. We just bought a house, so we’ll be doing a lot of work on that.
What is your dream road trip?
I would love to head up the west coast and drive through California, Oregon, and Washington.