by Rachel Gellis
If you are a parent, I welcome you to take a journey back in time to think about your fondest preschool and kindergarten memories. Did it involve standardized tests? Staring at an iPad? Sitting still in your chair for a length of time? More than likely, these are not the memories that come mind, but unfortunately, this is what school often looks like today. The warm memories you have likely involve making new friends, creating messy art projects, playing cops and robbers on the playground, cooking in the play kitchen and playing restaurant, singing songs with your classmates, learning to tie your shoes, and the best of days when your teacher would take the parachute out of the closet.
Remember what you loved about preschool as a child, while playful and fun, you were learning skills to be successful in the real world. Playing cops and robbers or restaurant, you were learning to make friends, take turns, follow rules, using imagination, and learning how to get along with others. Creating messy art projects, you were flexing your creativity muscle and learning that the process is just as important as the product. You were learning self-help skills and were so proud of yourself when you learned to tie your shoes. You were becoming independent. Although the parachute might have just been for fun, we believe having fun is an integral part of learning.
At South Shore Conservatory, or SSC, we are taking things back to basics. With a comprehensive foundation of social and emotional skills, combined with an arts-integrated curriculum, we are creating a life-long love of learning in our students. Arts-integration is an approach to teaching and learning in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. At SSC, we use various forms of art (drama, music, storytelling, poetry, visual arts, and creative movement) as primary pathways to learning. Through arts-integration, we are giving our children the tools to understand that there are many ways to learn and there is no one right way to learn. The more ways we teach students to learn, the more likely learning is to occur.
Our philosophy is to keep “play” at the heart of most activities as children begin their educational journey. Through play and the arts, we begin to gently introduce academic subjects to young children, and increase the skill level as they continue to grow within our program. Through the arts, young children engage in a creative process which connects an art form to other subject areas. By doing so, they learn key early childhood concepts, and creatively problem-solve and reach benchmarks using his/her own individual learning style. We equip our students with the tools necessary to be successful in the twenty-first century, creating a sense of community through rich art-integrated lessons and activities. Differences are respected and celebrated as each child freely expresses his or her own self. Using the arts to connect children to the material they are learning, makes it much more meaningful and purposeful.
Learn by “doing” is also our philosophy with parents! The first of every month we invite parents bring their children to an interactive, hands-on Take A Peek Tour, and jump right into the classroom to observe it in full action. Offering both morning and afternoon sessions lets us accommodate different schedules. Giving a child the gift of an arts-integrated Preschool/PreK/Kindergarten experience is truly a gift that continues to keep giving throughout that child’s life.
To sign up for a Take A Peek Tour, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 781-749-7565, ext. 36.
Rachel Gellis is South Shore Conservatory’s Director of Preschool/PreK/Kindergarten.