According to Danielle Cassetta, preschool education isn't so much a matter of imposing pre-packed lessons on children as it is giving them "personal choice power." The A2 transplant and California native is the founder of the new Acorn Glen Cooperative Preschool, which offers an authentically child-directed experience — "democratic" learning, as the forward-thinking Cassetta would put it. "Our focus is on those invisible parts of what it means to be a person in this community," she says. Children start the morning in a 'greeting circle' and, after that, are truly the directors of their day and free to explore their own interests, whether it be making a birdhouse, starting a do-it-yourself guitar project, or helping to prepare a recipe. Those who look bored or unstimulated are offered adult interaction, with all the learning incorporated naturally (for example, practicing counting by setting the table for a meal).
The idea is that by learning to make their own choices, children are better able to navigate life and discover their strengths. "I want to offer them an environment where they are full participants, and have the privileges and responsibilities that brings," Cassetta says, with the hopes that these choices will not only educate but empower, too. "My focus is helping the children become their own stewards."
Acorn Glen Cooperative Preschool is now enrolling for their fall preschool. 1547 Miller Ave. 734-585-5555. www.acornglen.org. —AO