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The HeadsUp!® Approach

Written by The ELI Team

Researchers at Early Learning Institute have developed an approach to learning that builds upon foundations laid down by predecessors such as Jean Piaget and Maria Montessori and, more recently, theorists in information processing. In crafting the approach, the researchers sought to encourage children’s curiosity, adaptability, intelligence, self-esteem, and happiness. Most important to parents, the approach leads directly to practical applications.

Every aspect of the HeadsUp!® program is designed to build those fundamental skills necessary to all learning: attention, memory, problem solving, and language. Each of these four basic skill areas is composed of a number of specific skills. For example, two attention skills are: focusing in on the most important part of a picture while allowing other details to fade into the background, and scanning for relevant information.

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The HeadsUp!® program is best characterized as a learning-to-learn approach. Attention skills, for example, are basic to any and every form of learning. The approach is in marked contrast with the form of learning that teaches particular facts, the kind of learning that you may have participated in when you memorized historical dates.

Once the child reaches a degree of competence using these skills, strategies begin to emerge. Strategies are defined as deliberate procedures used to achieve an intended goal. Some examples of memory strategies are: writing something down to enhance memory, and repeating something over and over again in order to remember it.

Some strategies will develop spontaneously, others will not. In either case, development can be aided by specific training in the strategies and in their requisite skills. As the skill base grows, the child’s ability to solve problems and to attain goals becomes more sophisticated. Part of this sophistication is recognizing when to use one strategy or another, when to develop a special strategy, when to change from one strategy to another, and when to combine strategies. This management of the thinking process is known technically as metacognition. Literally meaning “beyond knowledge,” metacognition is often called knowing about knowing.

In sum, the HeadsUp!® approach helps children build skills and strategies they can use appropriately in all learning situations. Additionally, the HeadsUp!® approach emphasizes the use of all five senses in an environment that is warm, sensitive, and loving. You now have Early Learning Institute’s recipe for an aware, inquisitive, independent, and responsive child.

The ELI Team

Since its founding in 1982, the Bay Area-based educational organization, Early Learning Institute, has been offering innovative, high-quality programs for young children. These include child development centers (ages birth to six) and private, non-sectarian schools (grades 1-8) in Palo Alto, North San Jose, and Pleasanton, as well as summer writing programs (grades 2-8) and Chinese-English immersion programs.

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