Dancing Moose Montessori School: Honoring Children

Dr. Joyce Sibbett talks about honoring children’s need to choose, to honor each other and their accomplishments on today’s Studio 5

Each of the following areas focuses on how adults might support children’s developing self esteem.

Honor Children’s Need to Choose

Contexts should allow children to explore and discover.
Materials must capture and maintain children’s interest.
Children need control over their learning environment.
Children are intrinsically motivated through choice.

Help Children Honor Each Other

Vivien Paley’s, “You can’t say, you can’t play” is a motto for every child.

Everyone should always feel welcome.

Children and adults should talk about feelings to develop empathy.

Adults should help children reach out to other children.

Honor Children’s Accomplishments

Adults should avoid evaluative comments; e.g., “You did a great job!”

Adults should make descriptive comments; e.g., “I notice your picture has a basket in it. What is in the basket?”

Adults should encourage children to describe their work.

Adults should show genuine interest in children’s work

Childcare That Honors the Child

When you walk into a sun-lit atrium with 30-foot ceilings, you do not expect to be entering a childcare center, but that’s exactly what you’ll find when you walk into the secured entrance of Dancing Moose Montessori School. Even though the early, formative years are recognized as a critical time for children to develop cognitive and social skills, to gain confidence and a sense of well-being that will continue through adulthood, childcare centers tend to fall short of meeting the many needs of children. Too often, childcare centers are overcrowded, understaffed, and operating in small, cramped conditions.

Dancing Moose Montessori School, a childcare/ preschool center, is definitely not an ordinary childcare center. The sunlit atrium extends the entire length of the school through a wide open hall that has an etched vine winding through it. Children like to walk the vine as they make their way to their classes and to the circle that is etched into every classroom floor.

Light and space are features that have been correlated with improved learning and emotional well being, and the founders of Dancing Moose Montessori School emphasized these features throughout the building.

The Montessori curriculum, which emphasizes hands-on learning, is prepared on low-lying shelves that allow each child to choose an activity to work on. Children explore and discover meaning as they work with objects that are designed with unique learning goals. When they’ve completed an activity, they replace it carefully on a designated shelf before pursuing a new activity.

Unlike traditional settings where children conform to teachers’ demands, teachers follow the children and support their exploration of materials and learning. Teachers honor children through choice, space, and time to explore activities that capture their interest. Each child designates his or her workspace by rolling out a small carpet and proceeding to work on it. If another child wants to join in the work, he or she must ask and be granted permission to do so. Children learn to respect and honor each other.

Parents may drop in at any time to watch their children in action at the large-screen monitors that are located in the main foyer. Sometimes parents pull up a chair and observe their child at work during a lunch hour. Knowing they can drop in their see their child at any time provides the reassurance that parents need to feel confident in leaving their child in a teacher’s care.

At Dancing Moose Montessori School, learning is not just one of the things that haphazardly happens; it is an integral part of daily activity. Children explore and work with objects that teach them skills that extend across disciplines. A primary objective is phonemic awareness that precedes reading and writing, but children also become adept at practical life skills, such as measuring and pouring water. And before they can ride their tricycles through the tricycle village, they must obtain a driver’s license, indicating that they know how to obey the traffic signs.

The outdoor amphitheater, designed for parent performances, complements outside play where children climb, slide, and play basketball. In inclement weather, children play on the indoor gym, which is also designed for classes in dance, yoga, and karate. Dancing Moose Montessori School offers these classes as part of their curriculum, so parents don’t have to run their children to specialized classes in the evenings.

Preschools children are small, but that doesn’t mean they should be cramped into small spaces. They need the space and the opportunity to discover, play, and explore. Doing so will ensure their success in building a solid foundation for cognitive growth.

To learn more about Dancing Moose Montessori School, call (801) 968-0100 or go to www.mydancingmoose.com.

And be sure to enter the Dancing Moose Montessori School Scholarship Giveaway. For more details click here.

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