+ What is the TCS's approach to discipline?
We view discipline as an opportunity to teach, rather than punish.
Possible scenario: Child 1 wants a toy that Child 2 has. We ask child 1 to say: “Please give me the truck when you are finished”. This provides Child 2 with the opportunity to become autonomous with his/ her actions. We also ask Child 1 to wait for the toy. Often, Child 2 gives the toy in a short time. However, occasionally, Child 2 ‘never finishes’ playing with the toy. In that case, we acknowledge to Child 1: “You wanted the truck and you did not get it. I hope that next time when it is available you will get it." We continue offering Child 1 two choices: “ You may build with the Legos or read a book at the reading area. What is your choice?” The following day, when Child 1 arrives at school, we may casually say: “I remember that you wanted to play with the truck yesterday. I see that it is available now, you may use it if you still want it, allowing Child 1 to make the decision.
We take this approach because we do not want to solve the children’s problems, but rather, provide them with the tools to solve their own problems. This is important if we want to support children in their independence and responsible actions, not just when adults are around them. Additionally, delayed gratification (as exhibited by waiting for the toy to become available) is a desired accomplishment in the early years, indicating a higher level of social competence.
+ Must children be potty trained?
No. When the child is ready (we know what to look for, and we will share our observations with you at the appropriate time), we will work with him/ her on using the toilet. Additionally, we pair children in diapers with already potty-trained children. This peer-teaching is an effective strategy that empowers all children involved in the process.
+ Does TCS provide snacks?
Yes. A healthy snack is provided daily, along with water. Children serve themselves in a family-style setting, using real china, small glasses, and real silverware. We teach the children how to use the dishware and utensils safely. When they are finished eating they load the dishes and cups onto our snack cart. At the end of the day the children load the dishwasher. We do this because we trust children as capable individuals. We also wish to avoid using disposable cups and plates, which is our way of demonstrating respect for our environment. We provide opportunities for the children to develop a sense of ownership of their school. When they set up and clean up after themselves, as well as assist in maintaining the environment, they come to feel that they are part of the environment.
All of our snacks are organic, local (when available), and healthy. The menu is carefully selected to enhance brain development, boost immune systems, and energy production.
+ How does the TCS program differ from a Montessori program?
Unlike Montessori, we work on long-term investigative projects where children contribute to the educational experience with questions on what to study, what to tackle in the topic, and how to study it as part of a group. We still decide if the topic is worth learning more about and support the multitude of learning opportunities present within an emergent curriculum.
We value children’s play as an important way of learning. We are selective on the fantasy play materials offered to children. Unlike Montessori, pretend and imaginative play is encouraged.
Unlike Montessori, we fill our environment with a wealth of open-ended materials. By open-ended we mean that materials have many correct ways to be used. For example: we avoid giving children paper with a shape already drawn on it for the children to color in because such activities limit children’s creativity, sending them the message ‘you can’t draw on your own’. Instead, we provide plain paper which sends the message to children: “you are competent and your paper may be anything you want it to be," respecting their inventive sense. We also provide quality writing tools. For example, we use the largest set of Berol Prismacolor Pencils, professional water colors, professional brushes, and more. With these materials children show us that they can produce quality work in a supportive environment.
Unlike Montessori, we have an atelier (art studio with a teaching artist working with the children). While there, children use a wealth of materials to convey their thoughts, theories, and hypotheses. We use real clay with real clay tools, paints, recycled materials, good quality professional papers, and much more.
Unlike Montessori, we have a building area with the best building blocks available (CommunityPlaythings® Brand).
The Montessori curriculum is preset, established well before the child is even born. Our curriculum is designed around where the child currently is, rather than a set of pre-designed lessons that may or may not be of interest to the children.
+ How are field trips incorporated into the program?
Field trips are part of our curriculum, not a form of entertaining children. The trips are scheduled (locations and times) according to what children are studying, fueled by their interests, not by a prewritten adult’s agenda.
+ Does TCS have an open door policy?
Yes. We welcome parents and family members into the classrooms at all times.