+ What is the TCS's approach to discipline?
We view discipline as an opportunity for learning.
Possible scenario: Child 1 wants a toy or material 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 and small glasses. 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.
+ 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. We also provide quality writing and art tools. With these materials children show us that they can produce quality work in a supportive environment.
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.
We have a building area with the best building blocks available (CommunityPlaythings® Brand).
+ How are field trips incorporated into the program?
Field trips are part of our curriculum and are taken when there is a relevant topic that may be supported with local excursions. The trips are scheduled (locations and times) according to what children are studying, fueled by their interests.
+ Does TCS have an open door policy?
Yes! We welcome parents and family members into the classrooms at all times.