Monday, July 15, 2024

Creating a Place of Belonging and Empowerment for Children

December 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Parenting From Balance©

Wherever you go, it is the teachers who make the school what it is.  And the teachers at PlaysSchool are all grounded in the same philosophy — that of non violent communication.  Therefore, 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 are never in a rush to resolve the conflict.  Sometimes children can take 20 minutes to sort a conflict out, if we let them.  And we do.  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.

Riviera PlaySchool is mainly is 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.

The best “toys” for this 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!!)

I think that an environment that provides children with these elements is best suited forevery 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, 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.  Like 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.”

Riviera PlaySchool in Redondo Beach offers a humanistic, constructivist, and mindful program for the “whole child,” inspired by the best of Attachment Parenting, Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Waldorf and Compassionate (Non Violent) Communication.  Call today for a visit.

Linda Shannon

Founding Director

Riviera PlaySchool


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