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Little Bucs

Center of Excellence for Early Childhood Learning & Development

About Us


We are committed to creating and maintaining a place for children that acknowledges, reflects and communicates our values. Little Buccaneers has a set of fundamental values that are based on an image of the child as curious, competent and capable of co-constructing knowledge. This co-construction of knowledge is supported by an environment that is abundant with a host of resources and is supported by time.

As educators, we observe, document, and interpret children's thinking and learning in order to understand, support and extend the children's experiences. We value our school as a community of learners who reflect and collaborate with one another. We offer children proposals for learning. These proposals are designed to augment experiences, offer countless possibilities for creativity, imagination, symbolization and representation in the classrooms, the atelier and outdoor areas.

We recognize the child's family as the first teacher. We, as a school community, hope to form a partnership with the child's family. We feel that the relationships formed will be critical and will provide the opportunity to build culture in our school. The culture formed will reflect the unique cultures of the individuals that make up our school community.

The foundation of the Reggio Approach is rooted in sound theory and research. The Reggio Approach places importance on the relationships between the children, with the family and with the teachers "with the environment of the school, with the community, and with the wider society" (Gandini, 1993). It is a philosophy of early education that emphasizes documentation, emergent curriculum, community collaboration, the environment and respect for a child's pace of learning. To be "Reggio-Inspired" is to adopt the core values and beliefs of this approach to educating young children.


  • The Image of the Child - Adults see children as competent, full of potential and active in constructing their own knowledge through interactions with others. Adults try to understand as fully as possible the child's point of view and abilities (the child's "culture").
  • Symbolic Representation - The Reggio Emilia Approach can be seen as an extension of the "Whole Language" approach as well as an entire array of creative media that are considered as "other languages." It is a way of using children's many ways of expressing themselves to enhance their creative, social and cognitive development.
  • The Role of the Environment - Through conscious use of space, color, natural light, displays of children's work, and attention to nature and detail, the environment serves as another teacher. The environment serves as an initiation to enter and participate.
  • The Role of the Teacher - Teachers facilitate children's ability to represent what they know and imagine. Teachers mediate between children's current understanding and what they are on the threshold of understanding.
  • The Importance of Time - In Reggio schools, time is not set by the clock, but by the child's needs and interests. There should be sufficient time for a child to express, learn, explore, extend and revisit a given project.
  • The Role of the Parents - The education process involves three equally important participants: children, teachers and parents. We welcome parent involvement in a wide range of ways. The ideas and skills that the parents bring to the school and, even more important, the exchange of ideas between parents and teachers, favor the development of a new way of educating.
  • Emergent Curriculum - Teachers observe and document the interactions, discussions, and fascinations of children. By developing learning opportunities from these observations, the curriculum "emerges" from children's interests and ideas. Our goal is to sustain and deepen children's learning and development through utilizing their emerging interests, and our teachers deliver this emergent curriculum through project work, which allows children to explore these areas of interest in detail.
  • Documentation - By documenting the children's work through photographs, video, written word, displays, etc, teachers record the life that happens in the classroom so that adults can revisit experiences with children to plan more carefully future objectives and activities. The process of documentation helps the adults (families, students, staff, faculty) to be reflective about the children and what is revealed in their play.


This philosophy of infant/toddler care is based on deep respect and values the autonomy of each child. Infants and toddlers are given a secure, comfortable environment where they have the freedom to explore and interact with children of their own age. Inspired by the Resources for Infant Educarers or "RIE" philosophy, we view infants respectfully as initiators and self-learners rather than passive young beings. A primary focus during a child's stay at Little Buccaneers Early Childhood Laboratory Program is fostering independence; this empowers children from the earliest age to be confident communicators. Our teachers are trained to be sensitive observers, caring for children as people, not helpless objects. When allowed to unfold in their own way and in their own time, children discover and inspire the best in themselves and in others.

"Infancy is a vulnerable stage of development, therefore, it's not enough that babies receive good care, the care must be excellent." Magda Gerber


Our commitment to children extends to an awareness and nurturing of the world they (and we) inhabit. By working to manage our impact on the environment and striving to maintain a green operation, we help protect the Earth's resources while at the same time help our children learn and understand about the natural world around us and our roles as stewards of that world. Little Buccaneers Early Childhood Laboratory Program is recognized as a 'partner' in the Tennessee Pollution Prevention Partnership (TP3) Community and earned Boone Watershed Aquatic Stewardship Award in 2010. See Micky Morton's article in the ETSU Sustainability Newsletter here!

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)

Children construct knowledge of the world through exploring, experimenting, and forming "theories" about how the world works. Providing materials that are real for children to explore natural science inquiry on a daily basis is a major focus of our Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) work at Little Buccaneers Early Childhood Laboratory Program. Many of the experiences and provocations consist of physics, simple machines, laboratory work, observation, dissection and nature. Our goal is to take advantage of children's natural curiosity and lay a foundation for later STEM learning.


Spending time outdoors both in solitude and at play is an important education for children. The outdoors encourages an inner connection to nature. At Little Buccaneers Early Childhood Laboratory Program, we are striving to build the connection to nature both indoors and out. One of the most inspiring endeavors we've taken on is the design of our outdoor space or 'natural playscape.' On July 25th, 2012 Little Buccaneers Early Childhood Laboratory Program had a professional consultation with outdoor playscapes expert, Rusty Keeler. During our 4-hour brainstorm pertaining to the permanent movement of the infant/toddler playground and the temporary movement of the preschool playground, the staff at Little Bucs came up with a diagram of the new playgrounds with lists of resources, work orders, and supplies. We're eager to continue and grow this project until children are immersed in a 'big back yard' at school.

"It's time for our children to grow up a little dirtier but a lot happier."  --Nancy Rosenow & Susan Wirth


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