As an anti-racist organization, we are committed to actively dismantling systemic racism within our sphere of influence. In the search for a curriculum for RISE, we recognized that there was a gap in the early childhood education curriculum available on the market that was aligned with RISE’s anti-racist principles and practices. Therefore, we made the decision to custom-design the RISE curriculum by building upon the tried and true methods of early childhood education and innovating upon those methods using anti-racist principles and practices.
“To be anti-racist is a radical choice in the face of history, requiring a radical reorientation of our consciousness.”
-Dr. Ibram Kendi
The RISE Model
The RISE Model is made up of four key building blocks:
- Anti-racist Principles
- Teacher Training and Professional Development
- Anti-racist, Play-Based Curriculum
- Parent Engagement
Which leads to self-actualized children who are ready for kindergarten.
“Anti-racism is the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably.” – NAC International Perspectives: Women and Global Solidarity
Everything we do at RISE is through the lens of anti-racism. In practice, that means we question everything. Why does child care cost so much? Why do early child care workers get paid so little? Through the pursuit to understand how racism impacts the inequities we identify through our questions, we actively develop practices and policies to dismantle the oppression we see.
Our anti-racist principles mean that we center the experiences and voices of the children and families that are historically and currently marginalized. It is our belief that if you take care of the most vulnerable, we all benefit. Racism harms us all. Being a member of the RISE community means you reject racism.
Teacher Training & Professional Development
“Anti-racist educators need to constantly reflect on their teaching, realizing their power to inadvertently rienforce racial hierarchies. With that power to perpetuate racism (be it implicit/explicit, interpersonal, internalized, institutional or structural) comes the power to intentionally dismantle those racial hierarchies.”
-The Anti-Racist Educator
RISE has a deep and embedded commitment to anti-racist practices in hiring our teachers and other staff members. Aligned with that commitment is the responsibility to seek out staff with the highest engagement and commitment to our mission and goals. We view ourselves as both a place to build and sustain long-term careers and we are a learning lab that will equip professionals with the tools they need to be successful. To support RISE teachers and staff in being lifelong learners, our staff are expected to engage in deep self-work to explore their own identities and to develop an understanding of racism and implicit bias. This knowledge is then turned into practice into the classroom in order to create culturally responsive learning environments where all children can thrive.
Anti-racist, Play-Based Curriculum
“An anti-racist, play-based curriculum doesn’t yet exist. Don’t worry. We will create it.”
Dr. Choquette Hamilton
Our approach to educating and caring for young children is based upon the research and theories of both traditional and progressive education. Building on educational approaches such as Montessori and Reggio Emilia and innovating through an antiracist lens, the RISE Curriculum is custom-designed to meet the needs of today’s contemporary young learners.
An anti-racist curriculum is not the same as an anti-bias curriculum, although anti-bias ideas are incorporated. An anti-racist curriculum focuses on centering the experiences and voices of the children and families that are historically and currently marginalized, which means you will see books, images and toys that promote positive images of Black, Indegenous, People of Color (BIPOC). An anti-racist curriculum also focuses on dismantling harmful practices grounded in white dominant culture. For example, we use round tables instead of rectangular ones because we believe in equality and not hierarchy.
Learning experiences at RISE are consistently offered through well-planned and rigorous authentic play opportunities. Within the context of play-based experiences in each RISE classroom, children acquire and strengthen their knowledge and skills across eight developmental learning domains:
Language Acquisition and Use
Literate Interest and Thinking
Mathematical Thinking and Problem Solving
Scientific Inquiry and Discovery
Technological Thinking and Use
Self, Family, and Community Belonging and Identity
RISE centers operate intentionally as institutions in the community. We actively seek to be more than the drop-off spot for families on the go, but to provide a “pit-stop” serving a variety of interests and needs of our RISE families. Everything from family fun nights, to workforce development, apprenticeships, and affinity groups, our approach to educating the youngest citizens of society encompasses the needs and desires of the family and in partnership with the community.
Self-actualized Children Ready for Kindergarten
“Self-actualization is the complete realization of one’s potential, and the full development of one’s abilities and appreciation for life.”
-Dr. Ayesh Perera
To ensure children reach their full potential, we organize our classroom communities in three groups, with a unique focus aligned to the key developmental milestones for that age range:
Infants and Toddlers (6 weeks-15 months): “Care as Curriculum”
Care for our littlest RISE children is paramount throughout the school day. Feeding, changing, nurturing, and exercising their little bodies is the essential time and attention given to these young learners. As we attend to their physical needs, our teachers also plan ways to meet their social, emotional, and academic needs too. This is done primarily through language! RISE infant teachers talk, sing, and narrate all the time as they work with the babies. Changing, feeding or calming an upset baby is never without the use of words, questions, and commentary that stimulate the baby’s brain and creates the schema (or prior knowledge) that they will use later in life to learn even more new and exciting things!
Toddlers and Twos (16-35 months): “Exploring My World”
Once babies become walkers, their energy, curiosity, and speed triples! As they become more mobile and have better dexterity to reach and grasp anything that is interesting to them, RISE teachers cultivate classroom environments that enable our toddlers’ desire to explore their world. As growth and development continues and toddlers get older, RISE teachers recognize that they will begin to acquire speech at a very quick pace. We optimize on this critical window by creating classroom environments that are rich with literacy! Rise Toddler and Twos classrooms highlight labels in more than the English language, easily accessible age-appropriate books and various reading materials, and lots of music, poetry, and movement to help RISE little explorers begin to put words and sentences into life-order.
Preschoolers (36-60 months): “I Can Make Meaning”
One of the hallmarks of our approach is mixed-age preschool classrooms. Three, four, and five-year-olds at RISE comprise the classroom environment together, thereby creating multi-level scaffolding that deepens learning and teaching skills even at this early stage of development. This simply means that the youngest preschooler at RISE has access to age-appropriate learning materials and activities and can be challenged by the differentiation that takes place consistently, for their older counterparts. Conversely, the older preschool students have plenty of opportunities to foster an environment where their inquiry and exploration creates a path for their young counterparts to support deeper learning. Research into mixed age grouping in early childhood richly informs our use of this methodology to ensure the most engaging development and learning opportunities for our preschool children. Finally, the curriculum leverages the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines, Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills for Kindergarten to make sure all RISE children are ready for kindergarten!