The four C’s—creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking—developed by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, provide a framework for needed student outcomes in a rapidly-changing and challenging world. New World Kids (NWK) is an early childhood program and curriculum that builds a solid foundation in the four C’s. Operating in-school and out-of-school at several sites, NWK is based on over 40 years of observing, teaching and interacting with children, their parents and teachers in the U.S. and Latin America, as well as a history as an award-winning lab school. The principles of NWK are in line with current research in neuroscience; cognitive, positive and developmental psychology; and best classroom practices.
Creativity. NWK believes that all children have creative potential. Young children are routinely asked to engage in the creative process by observing and gathering information from the world around them, playing with the possibilities of a wide variety of both high-tech and high-touch materials, exploring their own feelings and imaginations, and giving form to group and individual ideas. Because it is part of the creative process, students learn to take “failure” in stride and develop the flexibility and resilience needed to face a new world. A primary NWK focus is on learning a new alphabet for the new world, the Sensory Alphabet, which will allow them to think creatively and critically across the curriculum and improve their communication and collaboration skills.
Communication. The NWK curriculum integrates new and traditional literacies and asks children to express their learning, ideas and experiences verbally, interpersonally, non-verbally and digitally. Reading and writing is taught through an integrative, balanced approach across disciplines. The Sensory Alphabet (line, color, texture, shape, movement, rhythm, sound, space and light) helps children develop the visual skills needed to read and create infographics, videos, and other modern forms of communication. The objective is for them to use media of all kinds to communicate effectively.
Collaboration. Key to the success of NWK is helping each individual find and strengthen their best ways of thinking and learning. This “growth mindset” encourages students to develop true confidence and self-direction. A large section of the curriculum aims at improving social/emotional skills and helps even these young children be more positive, contributing members of a group. Parents and teachers learn to seek out and nurture the best of each individual and guide them to appreciate, celebrate and collaborate with the diverse talents of others.
Critical Thinking. NWK students engage in problem solving, decision-making and evaluation across the curriculum. They are continually encouraged to make inferences and analyze situations—from predicting what will happen when reading a story to contributing to local and even global concerns. Because of NWK’s creative basis, children learn to examine problems and issues from a variety of viewpoints and to think flexibly about solutions. Most notably, NWK and its precursors have been praised by outside evaluators for their creative, metacognitive approach to thinking and learning. Little children begin to think about thinking—especially their own best ways of thinking—by reflecting on favorite class activities and comparing their thinking (in a positive way) to that of other children.
New World Kids is aptly named and is dedicated to giving young children the tools they will need as 21st century learners. Current work includes developing and evaluating preschool models in diverse areas of the country. For more information: newworldkids.org or themissingalphabet.com