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Students as Teachers: Child led learning SPARKS new interest in the classroom!

Teacher intentionally planned and prepared. Child led. Creative learning that leads to collaboration. Play based learning at it's finest!

Meet our Early Childhood Director, Teresa Hoveland. Teresa has been in the early childhood education field for over 30 years, and has directed child care programs in the Madison, Wisconsin area and in Orange County, California. She graduated from UW Madison with a degree in Child and Family Studies, where she was a student of our school founder, Dr. Sandra Dahl!




"I hold the pedagogical belief young children learn best through play in a carefully planned, intentionally designed environment by skilled teachers who understand each child’s developmental needs and interests. Play is how young children learn the foundational skills they need for collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, compassion, and leadership. As I walked around the classrooms today, tears of joy were brought to my eyes. The children were delighting in the learning that was going on in those classrooms." Teresa Hoveland


On this cold November day in Wisconsin, let us take you on a little tour of ECE.

Let's start with our earliest youngest age group, CFN (Corgiville Fair Nursery, 12 months old). Our teachers intentionally planned and put together books that focus on their curriculum being learned. Child led, our little ones brought one of their classroom books to their teacher. You can see here that they are fully engaged as they read with their teacher who is fully engaged and sitting alongside of them.


Teacher intentionally planned and prepared. Child led.


Our TOW Class (Time of Wonder, two year olds) have been busy with their art and working on their fine motor skills. Pictured below you see the collaborative, expressive art. Each student then created their own piece of art! Their teachers instilled confidence in their art by framing it and displaying it in their classroom.


Think of the process behind this art project! They had to go outside to pick leaves and make a choice for something to carry the leaves back to the classroom. These students explored the outdoors, found an actual tree with leaves, looked at their textures, and saw how they were different from season to season. Then they brought it back to make their own tree with glue - which took fine motor skills!


Teacher intentionally planned and prepared. Child led.

Moving on up to our preschools and 4k classes brought a new level of fun to learning! Here you see kids with jingle bell magna-tiles! If you haven't heard of magna-tiles, these are a kid favorite! The teachers set up a center of magna-tiles with jingle bells. The smiles on their faces were glowing with the fun of seeing how the jingle bells stuck to the magnets and also seeing some of the other jingle bells rolling all around and hearing why!


Teacher intentionally planned and prepared. Child led.







This incredible piece of art started with two students. Slowly over the day more and more people contributed to the design! From teachers to parents, this small project became a wonderful design that will continue to be built for days to come!


Below you can see rich conversations full of teamwork and collaboration. Whether it be playing cooking and caring for babies to playing with trucks and cars in the sands and seeing the tracks, these students were in a space where they were learning and growing and not even knowing it!

The whole day was filled with this same approach,

Teacher intentionally planned and prepared. Child led.

"Our goal and desire for Hickory Hill Academy is for it to be a fun, safe place for children. If we do those two things, the sky is the limit for learning." - Matt Dahl, HHA President.


The learning that is happening at these early stages is such a great foundational piece to their educational journey with continuing on to our K-8th grade program!


Enrollment for our school is just around the corner! If you are curious about our program and what we can offer your child, please inquire HERE! We'd love to share our program with you and answer any questions that you may have!

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