Programs at Meliora School - Pinnacle Curriculum

Based on the developmental theories of Piaget, Erikson, and Gardner, Pinnacle is a guide for the daily curriculum of the early childhood classroom, birth – age five.  It is designed to assist teachers with program planning that encourages children to develop their emerging skills in all developmental areas through exploration and play.  The curriculum provides activities that stimulate growth and development which are incorporated into the child’s day.  Lesson plans are designed for personalization to each child, as no two children are exactly alike.  Pinnacle is aligned with the Georgia Early Learning and Development Standards (GELDs).

Highlights Include:

  • Developmentally appropriate activities 
  • Clearly stated learning objectives
  • Accommodates varied learning styles
  • Themes that capture children’s interest
  • Long-range goals linked to Key Standards (GELDs)
  • Interactive and fun activities that develop a love for learning
  • Comprehensive, Age-Specific Programs for Infants, Toddlers, Twos, Threes, Fours and School-Age children

Thematic Organization
Monthly themes with relevant and meaningful content are organized into smaller weekly themes that help foster a child’s natural curiosity about the world around them. Because children are given a variety of projects and activities to choose from, learning is in the hands and control of the child, guided by teachers.

Experiences for Everyone
The Pinnacle Curriculum is developed by a team of 31 early childhood experts and designed to engage children in developmentally appropriate activities. For infants and toddlers Pinnacle provides fun activities to do with little ones all day – even during eating and changing routines. Infant and toddler guides follow a weekly format allowing teachers to choose a number of activities per day for each child.

Two, Three, and Four Year Old Pinnacle programs provide a daily activity format that matches the ever changing needs of a child. This program is specific to the educational and emotional needs, interests and activity levels of each age group, meeting learning objectives that help every child reach their potential. Pinnacle provides small and large group activities along with center based activities that promote the development of emerging skills.

A Solid Foundation in Developmental Theory
Theories are essential because they provide the “why’s” for development.  There are no truly comprehensive theories of human development to guide research.  The Pinnacle program is centered on the developmental theories of Eric Erikson (Psychosocial Development), Jean Piaget (Cognitive Development), and Howard Gardner (Multiple Intelligences).  This provides a solid foundation in Psychodynamic Theory as well as Cognitive-Developmental Theory.  Learn more about these foundations in the following excerpts (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2013).

Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development
Erikson proposed that the life-cycle of human development is composed of eight biologically fixed stages.  Each stage of personality development is characterized by a challenge which must be met.  Erikson proposed that present and future behavior must have its roots in the past because the later stages build on the foundations laid in the early stages.  The four stages applicable to early childhood are summarized in the table below.

Psychosocial Stage



Basic Trust vs. Mistrust

Birth to 1 year

To develop a sense that the world is safe, a “good place”.

Autonomy vs. Shame

1 to 3 years

To realize that one is an independent person who can make decisions and doubt.

Initiative vs. Guilt

3 to 6 years

To develop the ability to try new things and to handle failure.

Industry vs. Inferiority

6years to Adolescence

To learn basic skills and to work with others.

(Kail & Cavanaugh, 2013)


Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory
The cognitive development perspective follows how children construct knowledge and how this process changes over time.  Piaget expressed that in an effort to understand the world around them, children behave like scientists, preparing hypotheses and testing them through experimentation.  When the predicted outcomes are validated, the child builds belief in a theory and begins to construct understanding.  When predicted outcomes do not manifest, the child must revise the theory and re-test.  Theories are revised with the growth of knowledge and experience.  The table below illustrates three of the four stages of cognitive development applicable to early childhood.


Approximate Age



Birth to 2 years

Infants knowledge of the world is based on senses and motor skills; by the end of the period, uses mental representation.

Preoperational Thought

2 to 6 years

Child learns how to use symbols such as words and numbers to represent aspects of the world; but, relates to the world only through his or her perspective.

Concrete Operational Thought

7 years to Adolescence

Child understands and applies logical operations to experiences, provided they are focused on the here and now.

(Kail & Cavanaugh, 2013)

Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences
Gardner, a Harvard neuroscientist, has identified seven distinct intelligences. This theory has emerged from recent cognitive research and proposes that children learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways.  According to this theory, we are all able to know the world through use and applications of all intelligence domains; however, where individuals differ is in the strength of these intelligences and in the ways in which such intelligences are utilized to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various areas.




Think in terms of physical space, as do architects and sailors. Very aware of their environments. They like to draw, do jigsaw puzzles, read maps, daydream. They can be taught through drawings, verbal and physical imagery.


Use the body effectively, like a dancer or a surgeon. Keen sense of body awareness. They like movement, making things, touching. They communicate well through body language and are best taught through physical activity, hands-on learning, acting out, role playing.


Show sensitivity to rhythm and sound. They love music, but they are also sensitive to sounds in their environments. They may study better with music in the background. They can be taught by turning lessons into lyrics, speaking rhythmically, tapping out time..


Understanding, interacting with others. These students learn through interaction. They have many friends, empathy for others, street smarts. They can be taught through group activities, seminars, dialogues.


Understanding one's own interests, goals. These learners tend to shy away from others. They're in tune with their inner feelings; they have wisdom, intuition and motivation, as well as a strong will, confidence and opinions. They can be taught through independent study and introspection.


Using words effectively. These learners have highly developed auditory skills and often think in words. They like reading, playing word games, making up poetry or stories. They can be taught by encouraging them to say and see words, read books together.


Reasoning, calculating. Think conceptually, abstractly and are able to see and explore patterns and relationships. They like to experiment, solve puzzles, ask cosmic questions. They can be taught through logic games, investigations, mysteries. They need to learn and form concepts before they can deal with details.

(Lane, n.d.)

Kail, R.V. & Cavanaugh, J.C. (2013). Human development: A life-span view.  Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Lane, C. (n.d.).  Multiple intelligences in The distance learning technology resource guide. Retrieved March 18, 2013 from:



     More About Pinnacle


Infants & Toddlers

Twos & Threes


After School



GELDS (Georgia Early Learning & Development Standards)


Pinnacle Curriculum