Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Smith, Kara (Faculty of Education)


Education, Early Childhood.




An attempt is made in this study to gain a better understanding of a non-traditional early learning program in an orphanage school setting, located in Ladyville, Belize, Central America. The teaching staff of Liberty Children’s Home (LCH) and Learning Centre (LLC) discovered innovative and strategic ways to differentiate traditional academic ways of early learning. The teaching approaches emulate a theoretical social-constructivist theory, implementing methodologies from Pikler, Montessori and Reggio Emilia. In 1996, a comprehensive literacy survey was conducted in Belize that indicated the functional literacy rate to be approximately 40 percent (Cornerstone, 2007). In addition, it is estimated one person in four in developing countries are illiterate (Terryn, 2006). This research site was approved and supported through Liberty Foundation, Ltd., charity of London, England and the Research Ethics Board (REB) from the University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. This 17-week qualitative grounded theory (Glaser, 1997) study was conducted on site at LCH and LLC. Responses from the students and staff were documented and interpreted utilizing various anecdotal and observation field notes, journals, interviews, audio/DVD/video recordings and photography. The students and staff responded to the Belizean ways of implementing early learning curricula in the natural learning environment. The grounded theory study offers a rich description of cultural responses that extend early childhood education further from an institutionalized and international point of view.