“People Are People No Matter How Small.” ~ Horton
Creating a Place of Belonging and Empowerment for Children
Riviera PlaySchool offers a humanistic, constructivist, and mindful program for the “whole child,” inspired by the best of Attachment Parenting, Reggio Emilia, and Non Violent (Compassionate) Communication. We are also inspired by the fun and freedom to explore of Bev Bos, the beautiful and abundant nature of Waldorf, and Maria Montessori’s easily digestible, experiential approach to learning.
Wherever you go, it is the staff who make a school what it is. And the staff at Riviera PlaySchool are all grounded in the same philosophy — that of non violent communication, and mindfulness. You will notice that every interaction between child and adult has a consistent and tangible feeling of respect and compassion. And when any conflict occurs, it is a true learning moment, and teachers are on hand to hold space for the children to resolve their own conflicts. We try to not rush to a resolution of our adult creation. Sometimes children can take a while to sort a conflict out to a place they deem to be “fair.”. And we give them space to take the time to do that, while offering support, and helping them keep bodies and hears safe. We pay particular attention to where we are during the conflict. We stay on the sidelines. We don’t jump into the fray energetically. If we notice our speech becoming more rapid, or our voice becoming louder, then that’s a signal to us to take a step back and let them have their own emotions about the conflict at hand. It’s pretty tricky, and it keeps us more awake as people. It is an incredibly magical thing to witness a couple of small children figure out a workable solution to their volatile dilemma…and then walk away laughing together, more emotionally and socially intelligent than before.
Riviera PlaySchool is mainly child-directed. In other words, the teachers at PlaySchool meet the children where they are. Not just physically, by getting down on the same level when we speak, but also energetically, by being in the moment, and celebrating in their successes, and joining them in the joy of creation.
In the tradition of Reggio Emilia and also that of Bev Bos, we know that the environment is also a teacher. So in the classroom (both outdoors and inside) we facilitate enriching environments within which the children can learn through freely allowed exploration. And we know that the very best “toys” and “tools” for this exploration are the ones that are open-ended and undefined.
We like to make opportunities to allow for magic in our teaching by providing lots of parts of things for the children: tape, boxes, spools, pipe cleaners, twine, wire, glue-paint, glitter, scissors, tongue depressors, yarn, pom poms, cardboard tubes, corrugated cardboard, glue guns for attaching heavy parts (when building spaceships, for example) ribbon, string, fabric …
And we then let the kids lead us, and devise their own creations. Parts allow us to create fantasies. Today we had a big box at PlaySchool. The children first painted it, then another group made it into a car, and then it became a clubhouse…. the play was emergent, organic, and fantastic.
Magic can happen in any environment if you have a few elements:
- freedom to explore
- power; permission to create
- space to create in
(I think this is also the definition of how invention happens!!)
We follow the most current practices in Early Childhood Education: we embrace and nurture the “Whole Child,” and allow each child to learn at his or her own pace. We believe an environment that provides children with the elements listed above is best suited for every child. Any person feels good in an environment that empowers them.
The children leaving our program understand more than just 1 + 1, they understand that 1 weighs less than 2. They are ready for first grade: they are well developed in all realms, cognitive, emotional, and social. Our graduates are able to resolve their own conflicts peacefully, are well-grounded, sure-footed, confident, understand themselves well, and are able to self-regulate, and have incredible critical thinking skills.
Most importantly, we believe that each person is born with at least one special, particular gift, and an environment that allows them to focus on what enthuses them is best suited to help those individual gifts emerge and become honed and developed.
As Plato said: “Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”