My journey as an early childhood entrepreneur began as an administrator and educator who practiced a teaching technique called ‘direct instruction.’ This teaching strategy expects children to gain a predetermined skill acquisition sequence, teaching learners what they need to know to succeed in school. I knew in my heart this was not the way our kids should learn, especially during the preschool years- because they weren’t learning: I saw kids suffer, break down and fail, use worksheets, learn through repetition, walk away frustrated and disempowered. I recognized there had to be a better way to teach young children how to pursue their passions and, at the same time, prepare them to succeed in formal school. Because of this realization, my passion was born to make a difference.
I started by recruiting a group of university professors from the University of Central Florida to write a STEM curriculum for early childhood to get children excited about careers in which there would be a high demand for jobs. To implement our ideas, we purchased a struggling school in Oviedo, and inside the Orlando Science Center, designed and built a space to introduce STEM experiences. We became authors, toy designers, and STEAM experts around the country.
Yet, the biggest realization that the curriculum lacked important components came after dropping my daughter in college at Stanford University. No matter how hard I tried, she was not passionate about a STEM career. Yet, it takes courage, humility, feedback from the end users, and commitment to innovation to improve your work. After this trip, I started gathering input from teachers, parents, children, administrators and learning about new early childhood research. After our research, our team realized we had missed the most important component of learning, to respect a child’s passions and motivations as learners.
To improve the original design, our team of professors and early educators invited researchers from Project Zero at Harvard University to our school in Oviedo to learn first-hand the power of their new research on maker-centered learning. Our education team experienced the power of taking apart our entire company to put it back together during this hands-on collaboration to achieve the mission to preserve the natural abilities, skills, and attitudes that are beautifully innate to young children. During this growth phase for our team, we learned the power of empathizing with others to solve their problems, the mindsets required to innovate, and the power of maker-center learning. We started asking ourselves: What if every child could learn this way? What if every child could follow their intuitions, pursue their passions, create solutions for others, and learn to fail? What if we could do all that and at the same time help children help them learn what they need to succeed in school?
This is the foundation of our learning philosophy, The Innovation Advantage. Today, I am surrounded by young innovators, children respected for their ideas, passions and motivations, capable of finding solutions to help others, and empowered to take responsibility for their learning while building community and character.
About the Founder Marnie Forestieri
- Started as a franchisee of a childcare brand.
- Launched two childcare brands.
- Operator of large childcare centers
- Nationally recognized for implementing innovative education
- Speaker at national conferences on educating our young children.
- Author of books for children, administrators, and educators, including writing new curricula.
Learn more, here.