An exciting and innovative education center has arrived in Pinecrest — Grow With Us Academy, the first preschool, kindergarten and adult training facility in the country to fully integrate Conscious Discipline into every aspect of its programming.
Conscious Discipline is a social-emotional intelligence system based on current brain research that teaches adults how to respond instead of react to life and conflict. Through Conscious Discipline, adults first learn and then teach children how to identify and understand their feelings, manage their emotions, regulate their behavior, develop empathy for others and establish sustainable relationships.
Grow With Us Academy’s goal is to develop and promote emotional intelligence and teach effective conflict resolution while stimulating creativity, confidence, caring and self-sufficiency.
“We welcome conflict, because it is an opportunity to teach and learn,” said Mindy Becker, national Conscious Discipline instructor and founder and director of Grow With Us Academy. “Our focus is to teach children how to handle conflict and get their wants and needs met more appropriately. We teach them real problem-solving skills so that can travel with them for life.”
Grow With Us Academy uses modified version of HighScope curriculum, a child-led system that breaks the school space into different interactive learning areas. Using this system, children learn how to plan, perform and then reflect on projects and experiences. Instead of a generic toy corner, there is a Brain Lane. In place of a basic block area, there is a Building Zone. Children can play and learn in the Imagination Station, create art in the Sensory Spot and let out their energy in the school’s interior obstacle course or several other inventive spaces. Some aspects of the Montessori and Reggio Emilia approaches have been incorporated into the curriculum where appropriate.
“Everything we do is thoughtful, has purpose to it and is all to prepare children for their future in a fun, loving way,” she said. “The activities, tools and school environment are designed to support the children’s first experience in their education world, instill in them a love of learning and help them develop skills they’ll need in the future.”
The only preschool and kindergarten in South Florida endorsed by Conscious Discipline founder Dr. Becky Baily, Grow With Us Academy began modestly nine years ago in the warehouse district near The Falls. Becker’s original intent was to teach small, private workshops and parent/child classes, but demand for her special approach to learning and development grew well beyond what she was then offering.
“After taking my classes, parents asked me where they should send their children, who had been with me since they were babies,” she said.
“There was nowhere I could recommend that I felt was developmentally appropriate for their children. The parents asked me to open a school and I did.”
Grow With Us Academy became a licensed preschool in a small schoolhouse on Sunset Drive, but in mid-2016 the school finally outgrew the space. After careful consideration and planning, Becker relocated her school and staff to Pinecrest.
The new space offers part-time and full-time programs for children 2 years old through kindergarten in a large, warm and colorful facility situated on an acre and a half of land, which includes several indoor and outdoor play areas. Classrooms are large, but class sizes are kept small; there are seldom more than five students per teacher, with some classrooms having up to three teachers at once. Professional and parent workshops, special parent and child classes, sibling courses, early childhood transition programs for children 18-32 months and extended afterschool learning programs also are available.
“We see behavior with loving eyes,” she said. “Usually, adults view unwanted behaviors as being disrespectful, hurtful or mean. Our teachers at Grow With Us Academy choose to see these behaviors as calls for help or simply wanting to communicate a need. This allows us to effectively and consciously discipline them and give them new skills to better handle difficulties more appropriately.”
Grow With Us Academy is located at 11295 SW 57 Ave. For more information about the school and adult workshops and classes, visit www.GrowWithUsAcademy.com or call 305-677-GROW.