Red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue—these are the first words in the Rainbow Song. Our Dancing Moose children sang the words to the song, dressed in rainbow colors, to usher in the first day of spring. (YouTube Video of the Rainbow Song)
I watched in awe as the children lined the Dancing Moose hallway and sang the rainbow song together. They were part of something bigger than themselves, and they inspired all of us who listened to their song. That inspiration might be articulated in different ways, but for me the rainbow song signified that our differences, like the colors of the rainbow, are necessary to make a beautiful whole. Children are learning about the unique gifts that each individual brings to school each day. I love to hear them see each other across the parking lot in the morning or afternoon and enthusiastically call each other by name as they say hello and goodbye. Being recognized by name is a welcome sound to all of us.
The garden outside is just beginning to sprout new growth with the green breaking through the brown soil, and soon the rainbow will be visible in the many beautiful spring flowers in the garden. It is a beautiful time of renewal for all of us.
We hope to encourage Dancing Moose children to pay attention to the changing seasons and the beauty of nature. They will soon be planting seeds and watching them sprout with grow lights. These seedlings will then move to the garden where children will nurture them to maturity, and then harvest and enjoy them. One of the goals of this curriculum is to help students see and enjoy the rich products of nature, and the wonders that each season holds for new hopes and dreams.
Learning the names of colors is a goal for young children, but seeing, feeling, tasting, and enjoying the colors of nature has restorative properties. I hope that we will all reserve a little time to breath in the colors of the rainbow.
Active learning begins with curricular ideas that entice and intrigue children. Maria Montessori understood that in the early 1900s, yet enticement is often missing in children’s educational experiences. One of the reasons for this is curriculum driven by mandates that have nothing to do with what intrigues children—not because anyone intends to turn children off to learning but because policy-makers’ goals are driven by efficiency (which is especially true in a strained economy). Large classrooms and quantifiable results are conducive to efficiency.
Efficient classrooms lack choice, exploration, and instruction that is based on children’s interests. These educational qualities are neither efficient nor easily quantified, but they are the qualities that capture and maintain children’s intrigue.
To accomplish these important educational goals, Dancing Moose limits class sizes, and two teachers always work together to provide one-on-one and small group lessons that allow children to have choice and flexibility, and to work at their own pace.
Dancing Moose faculty members attended the MEPI (Montessori Education Programs International) to share project-oriented curriculum that is differentiated to meet varied developmental levels of children at Dancing Moose. State core standards are incorporated into this curriculum; yet with a limited number of students in each class, teachers are able to adapt lessons with built-in choices and levels of learning. As a result, every child can be led by his or her interests and proceed at the pace that is best suited to the child. Dancing Moose prides itself in enticing curriculum and is eager to share ideas with MEPI schools that share their values.
Connecting school and family is a great way to help children feel invested in their education. Children thrive when they know that they are valued members of an educational community. This sense of belonging contributes to a solid foundation for current and future success in school.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently published a report entitled, School Connectedness: Strategies for Increasing Protective Factors Among Youth. This report emphasized the importance of family and community engagement in school as a measure to keep students invested in education. When families stay connected to their children’s school and regularly engage their children in conversations about school, children are more likely to feel connected and enthused about their role as a member of the school community. This engagement cannot begin too early as positive attitudes toward school begin as early as a child initiates his or her school experience.
Children are able to identify school as an important part of their life when their parents take interest in their school work and their teachers. Involving families in school events is an important part of that commitment, and Dancing Moose enjoys the opportunities to host school-wide events that can foster relationship-building.
Munch and Mingle is an early-morning event that Dancing Moose will launch next week to encourage families to get together for a warm drink and a sample of Chef Rene’s great muffins. We appreciate all of our families and hope that this event will provide an opportunity for parents to get to know one another a little better. We want to make sure that all of our children know that we are on the same team for making school a great place to be!