Countryside Children’s Academy
20890 Pidgeon Hill Drive,
Loudoun County, Sterling, VA

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Fun Learning for Virginia Kids - Rated #1 in Childhood Education

The Fun Academy Kindergarten global network is expanding to partner with Countryside Children’s Academy (CCA), a top-rated childcare center in Virginia, U.S. This partnership enables children enrolled at CCA to embrace the innovative Fun Learning approach; an early childhood education initiative that builds on the best of the world renowned Finnish educational system, and combines this with the strength of an international network of teaching professionals. “I’m driven to continually improve the level of service I provide to children. I looked at the most successful educational systems around the world, and discovered the breakthrough innovations made by Finnish Fun Learning," says Meenoo Labana, director of CCA. Fun Learning is a child-centric approach that guides children to innovative and scientific thinking. It encourages the fundamental element of the natural development process: a child learns through exploration, fun and play. The Fun Academy Kindergarten Fun Learning implementation gives children a hunger to explore and learn in a safe, playful and encouraging environment. “Learning how to learn, think innovatively and participate actively at an early age develops the 21st-century skills necessary to evolve as creative and responsible citizens and leaders,” CCA’s Labana emphasizes. Most importantly, Fun Learning promotes the overall well-being of the child. This partnership gives children enrolled at CCA access to the most up-to-date learning methodologies. They will have the opportunity to grow up in a safe and inspiring environment and receive support to become socially adept creative and scientific thinkers prepared for a world of lifelong learning. CCA joins the rapidly growing international network of classrooms implementing Fun Academy's Fun Learning approach. The children in Virginia will take part in their first common science project with children from Finland and Hong Kong during the spring term of 2017. “I'm delighted that our initiative is becoming truly global," says CEO of Fun Academy, Sanna Lukander. “This again proves our Fun Learning philosophy adapts naturally with local curricula and cultural settings. Our diverse network shares best teaching practices, and teachers benefit with peer support from colleagues in different countries and cultures.” This Thursday, Countryside Children’s Academy and Fun Academy take part in a Centennial Education event at the Embassy of Finland in Washington, D.C. Fun Academy will present the Fun Learning approach, and the benefits of global collaboration and learning together. Fun Academy Kindergarten focuses on continuous professional development of educators; answering their needs with ongoing access to training sessions, principle guidelines, practical examples and peer collaboration. The Fun Academy & CCA partnership is proceeding at full steam with training of teaching staff and management starting next week. Fun Academy Learning can be Fun! Fun Academy is a Finnish education company with a global mindset and works in the areas of early childhood education and digital solutions. Professional development of teachers is a core focus for the company as well as the Fun Learning approach that supports children to become lifelong learners by identifying their learning strengths and areas of interest or passion. Rovio Entertainment, the University of Helsinki and Polkuni Ltd are among the shareholders of Fun Academy.

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CCA adopts STEAM Curriculum from Finland

CCA has partnered with Fun Academy to bring first Finnish-based STEAM program to the United States. We take the best of the Finnish educational philosophy and combines it with the Fun Learning approach to create the essential early childhood education program. Fun Academy works with the teacher's pedagogy to promote healthy, balanced learning environments for children, where innovation, active participation and responsibility is encouraged to The Fun Learning approach in practise promotes. Fun Learning The Fun Learning approach guides children to be curious and explore their world with positive and constructive attitudes. Fun Learning promotes overall wellbeing: rest, play and work exist in tandem, emphasising the importance of healthy nutrition and physical exercise.   Life Skills Children deserve to be prepared for the 21st Century. Learning how to learn, collaborate and think innovatively are skills that help develop active participation and responsibility. Fun Academy offers these in a safe environment where children can strengthen social and emotional skills naturally in a positive and respectful atmosphere.   Teacher Development Fun Academy educators take part in a rigorous professional development program that supports their work through clear guidelines, practical examples and peer collaboration. Training starts onsite and is continued online, offering current solutions for the classroom.   Classroom The Fun Academy classroom is pedagogically designed to support various learning strategies.The classroom is divided into sections, each built to promote discussion, collaboration and innovative thinking, and children are encouraged to actively explore their environment.   Learn More here: Fun Academy

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‘I have seen the school of tomorrow. It is here today, in Finland.’

William Doyle is a 2015-2016 Fulbright Scholar who joined the faculty of the University of Eastern Finland last year as a lecturer on media and education. He has enrolled his 7-year-old son in a Finnish public school and has been dazzled at what he has seen. His Fulbright project title: “Global Education Forum: The Schools of Tomorrow.” In this post, he talks about an approach to education in Finland that he thinks would do well in the United States. 'I have seen the school of tomorrow. It is here today, in Finland.' As a public school dad and a university lecturer in rural Finland last semester, I found Finland’s school system to be an absolute inspiration, and a beacon of hope in a world that is struggling, and often failing, to figure out how to best educate our children. Over the past four decades, Finland has climbed to the top of the Western world in educational performance tests, and widely outpaced its fellow Nordic nations. Finland has also won recent #1 world rankings for most efficient education system, most stable nation, greenest country, freest press, women’s participation in the workforce, strongest property rights, least corrupt state, and most innovative economy. Not bad for a young nation of 5.4 million people whose economy barely got started until the 1970s. Despite Finland’s huge current social and budget pressures, and a recent slip in its global benchmark education tests, Finland’s education system continues to be an inspiration to teachers around the world. If you asked them which system comes closest to getting childhood education right, many would automatically say “Finland.” In the United States, failing education reforms are causing widespread chaos in our public schools and the ongoing waste of billions of precious taxpayer dollars on untested, unproven reforms. As civil rights hero James Meredith recently told me, “We are destroying the future of our nation” with misguided education policy. Professor Howard Gardner of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education has suggested that we “learn from Finland, which has the most effective schools and which does just about the opposite of what we are doing in the United States.” What is Finland’s secret? A whole-child-centered, research-and-evidence based school system, run by highly professionalized teachers. These are global education best practices, not cultural quirks applicable only to Finland. The striking lessons of Finland’s long-term success with education reform can help inspire and be adapted by any school system in the world. They involve concepts much admired by education reformers in the United States — standards, rigor, competition, choice, assessments and standardization — but defined correctly and applied at the correct points in the system. Here are a few: Maximize system-wide standards by putting professional educators in charge of education. They are the ultimate experts on childhood education, not bureaucrats, politicians or technology vendors. Apply rigor and competition at the front end of the system, where they have the strongest impact. Have your best, most passionate young people compete to become teachers. Train them rigorously at the highest levels of professionalism and give them maximum respect, authority and autonomy in the classroom. Build a culture of system-wide teacher and school collaboration. Standardize funding for students based on their needs, and provide equitable access to educational resources. Provide choice to parents by enabling them to choose between high-quality, well-resourced, safe, transparent and locally governed area public schools. Don’t waste time and money on mass standardized testing of children. Instead, test students correctly on a daily basis, with assessments and observations designed by their own classroom teachers and used for diagnostic purposes to improve learning. Realize that much of what matters most in education – including “21st and 22nd Century skills” like a child’s curiosity, perseverance through trials and failure, kindness and compassion, critical and abstract thinking, sense of leadership and teamwork, expressiveness, social skills and creativity – should be evaluated by classroom teachers, and can never be measured by standardized data collection. Get real about classroom technology. A recent major study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that most classroom technology has had little or no academic benefit. “In most countries, the current use of technology is already past the point of optimal use in schools,” said  OECD official Andreas Schleicher. “We’re at a point where computers are actually hurting learning.” Spend money on childhood classroom technology extremely carefully, and don’t automatically throw out tools that work for unproven ones. Remember that screens deliver only a simulation of individualized instruction. Highly qualified teachers deliver the real thing. Give children what they need to learn best, including reasonable class sizes, individualized attention from highly qualified teachers, a rich curriculum, regular breaks and physical activity, proper sleep and nutrition, reasonable workloads and downtime, warmth and encouragement, a screen-free “digital oasis” when appropriate, and social support services when necessary. Let children be children. Let the children play. That’s how they learn. William Doyle is a 2015-2016 Fulbright Scholar who joined the faculty of the University of Eastern Finland last year as a lecturer on media and education. He has enrolled his 7-year-old son in a Finnish public school and has been dazzled at what he has seen. His Fulbright project title: “Global Education Forum: The Schools of Tomorrow.” In this post, he talks about an approach to education in Finland that he thinks would do well in the United States. Doyle served as director of original programming and executive producer during seven years at HBO. In 2014, he co-wrote with civil rights icon James Meredith the American Child’s Education Bill of Rights, which you can read about here. He is the co-author, with former U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, of the New York Times bestseller, “American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms.” His other books include “A Soldier’s Dream: Captain Travis Patriquin and the Awakening of Iraq,” “An American Insurrection: James Meredith and the Battle of Oxford, Mississippi” (winner of the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award and the American Library Association’s Alex Award), “Inside the Oval Office” (a New York Times Notable Book), and “A Mission from God” (with James Meredith). He was co-producer of the PBS special “Navy SEALs: Their Untold Story,” for which he co-wrote the companion book. His latest book is “PT 109: An American Epic of War, Survival and the Destiny of John F. Kennedy.” When he isn’t in Finland, he lives in New York City.   (Source: Washington Post)

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New beginnings: Countryside Children’s Academy renovates!

We’ve had a busy few months here at countryside daycare working on improvements. You’ll have noticed our new website, redesigned to give you even more information about the center, our staff and our ethos. With our new Parents Corner and Latest News sections you’ll be able to stay up to date with everything in just a couple of clicks. The new website has been designed to create an online community for parents with children already attending the center as well as those considering joining us; it’ll help everyone stay connected and up-to-date. Our makeover continues in the center itself with interior and exterior renovations that not only make the center look great but which offer an improved learning experience for your child. From a lick of paint to developing learning spaces, we’ve really created improvements to be proud of. To begin with we wanted to really freshen the place up, so we choose a new color scheme for every room. We went with colors that spark energy, creativity, and foster learning. It looks and feels bright and airy; the perfect place for children to learn, play and create. You’ll also notice that we’ve invested heavily in new furniture throughout to ensure all our little learners can sit comfortably, as well as new themes and lighting in every room. Rather than simply redecorate, we’ve created an environment that helps stimulate, focus and engage. And because we know the value of learning through explorative play, we’ve extended our toy collection to include some of the very best educational toys on the market to make sure we cram as much learning into the day as possible! Improvements don’t stop there. Our new computer lab will be opening soon which means children in our programs are able to learn computer skills and innovate using the best information technology equipment in the area. Outside, we are going to make the playground look all the more appealing by upgrading the mulch, bringing nature to the forefront of our outdoor play space, perfect for those sunny days. We’re really pleased with how the new center looks and we hope you think it’s looking great too. If you’ve not yet seen our new-look center then get in touch to schedule a tour, we’d love to show you around.  

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Why Finland has the best schools in the world

The Harvard education professor Howard Gardner once advised Americans, “Learn from Finland, which has the most effective schools and which does just about the opposite of what we are doing in the United States.” Following his recommendation, I enrolled my 7-year-old son in a primary school in Joensuu, Finland, which is about as far east as you can go in the European Union before you hit the guard towers of the Russian border. OK, I wasn't just blindly following Gardner — I had a position as a lecturer at the University of Eastern Finland for a semester. But the point is that, for five months, my wife, my son and I experienced a stunningly stress-free, and stunningly good, school system. Finland has a history of producing the highest global test scores in the Western world, as well as a trophy case full of other recent No. 1 global rankings, including most literate nation. In Finland, children don't receive formal academic training until the age of 7. Until then, many are in day care and learn through play, songs, games and conversation. Most children walk or bike to school, even the youngest. School hours are short and homework is generally light. Unlike in the United States, where many schools are slashing recess, schoolchildren in Finland have a mandatory 15-minute outdoor free-play break every hour of every day. Fresh air, nature and regular physical activity breaks are considered engines of learning. According to one Finnish maxim, “There is no bad weather. Only inadequate clothing.” One evening, I asked my son what he did for gym that day. “They sent us into the woods with a map and compass and we had to find our way out,” he said. Finland doesn't waste time or money on low-quality mass standardized testing. Instead, children are assessed every day, through direct observation, check-ins and quizzes by the highest-quality “personalized learning device” ever created — flesh-and-blood teachers. In class, children are allowed to have fun, giggle and daydream from time to time. Finns put into practice the cultural mantras I heard over and over: “Let children be children,” “The work of a child is to play,” and “Children learn best through play.” The emotional climate of the typical classroom is warm, safe, respectful and highly supportive. There are no scripted lessons and no quasi-martial requirements to walk in straight lines or sit up straight. As one Chinese student-teacher studying in Finland marveled to me, “In Chinese schools, you feel like you're in the military. Here, you feel like you're part of a really nice family.” She is trying to figure out how she can stay in Finland permanently. In the United States, teachers are routinely degraded by politicians, and thousands of teacher slots are filled by temps with six or seven weeks of summer training. In Finland teachers are the most trusted and admired professionals next to doctors, in part because they are required to have master's degrees in education with specialization in research and classroom practice. “Our mission as adults is to protect our children from politicians,” one Finnish childhood education professor told me. “We also have an ethical and moral responsibility to tell businesspeople to stay out of our building.” In fact, any Finnish citizen is free to visit any school whenever they like, but her message was clear: Educators are the ultimate authorities on education, not bureaucrats, and not technology vendors. Skeptics might claim that the Finnish model would never work in America's inner-city schools, which instead need boot-camp drilling and discipline, Stakhanovite workloads, relentless standardized test prep and screen-delivered testing. But what if the opposite is true? What if high-poverty students are the children most urgently in need of the benefits that, for example, American parents of means obtain for their children in private schools, things that Finland delivers on a national public scale — highly qualified, highly respected and highly professionalized teachers who conduct personalized one-on-one instruction; manageable class sizes; a rich, developmentally correct curriculum; regular physical activity; little or no low-quality standardized tests and the toxic stress and wasted time and energy that accompanies them; daily assessments by teachers; and a classroom atmosphere of safety, collaboration, warmth and respect for children as cherished individuals? Why should high-poverty students deserve anything less? One day last November, when the first snow came to my part of Finland, I heard a commotion outside my university faculty office window, which is close to the teacher training school's outdoor play area. I walked over to investigate. The field was filled with children savoring the first taste of winter amid the pine trees. My son was out there somewhere, but the children were so buried in winter clothes and moving so fast that I couldn't spot him. The noise of children laughing, shouting and singing as they tumbled in the fresh snow was close to deafening. “Do you hear that?” asked the recess monitor, a special education teacher wearing a yellow safety smock. “That,” she said proudly, “is the voice of happiness.” Source (

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