The Spark – March 2016

A Note From The Director
Katie Kheel, Executive Director
Structure and Play! Both of these elements are very important and both are part of our early childhood and toddler class programming. Structured activities allow the child to develop expectations and follow directions. They provide routine, comfort, and consistency. Just as we have morning and bed time routines at home for our children, it’s important that classes have routines and structure. However, we can’t forget about the free play component which helps children develop creativity, confidence, socialization and problem solving skills. During art class, children have time to roll, pinch and press the playdoh or build with blocks.  During ballet, the dancers freely explore the music fast and  slow. During gym, the children climb, jump and run when not following the circuit. During our AOMO and OMO, our students act out different scenarios with the kitchen set and the babies.  A balance of both structure and play is key and will give your child a well rounded experience.  
Ballet Beat                                     
Sparking creativity through the art of movement Katrina Muffley, Ballet Instructer

I love teaching for many reasons and Discovery adds to those by fostering creativity and a wonderful sense of community. As a dance teacher at Discovery, movement, specifically ballet technique, plays a large role in my lessons. However, movement is only the foundation of what we teach. Whether I am teaching a class as small as two or as large as fourteen children, I want each student to feel as if his/her voice is heard. Each dancer is a moving work of art both timeless and unique. Every week I look forward to hearing from my students about their play dates, new favorite foods, colors, travels, and latest adventures. These are the intangibles that mold us, help us create and bloom. Through their words, I am able to tap into their creativity, and evoke a spark of imagination. Over time, the freedom of expression evolves and the art of dance is created. 

From a very early age, I knew movement was my passion in life. As a professional dancer and artist, my heart not only lies in movement, but also in the performance element of the art form, which goes hand in hand with my love for teaching. When performing, I want the audience to leave, feeling as though they have experienced something greater than themselves. When I teach, especially because many of my students are so young (some even younger than two years of age), I want their experience with dance and ballet to be both positive and inviting.  As a teacher, I do not expect each student to leave my class wanting to become a professional dancer. However, I do hope to plant a small seed of inspiration within each dancer. A seed of dance and movement that I hope will stay with them for many years to come. 

Toddler Talk
The Magic in Messy Moments
Timi Mathai, EC Teacher
There are so many wonderful aspects about working with children.  They are kind, adventurous, imaginative, creative, and naturally eager to explore and learn.  As a teacher, I want to foster these traits. I find that one of the best ways to encourage growth is to also be adventurous, imaginative, and creative myself.  However, these traits come more naturally to the children then they do to me. 
In the classroom, I find myself scheduling every moment of the day. However, I often ask myself, am I doing my best?  How can I add to the childrens learning experience?  The answer is to stop obsessing about “planning teaching moments and simply be more present with the children.    
In art, sometimes it is best to forget the clock and allow the children to paint, glue, glitter and stamp for as long as their hearts desire.  In order to remain present with my students, I even join in art projects, creating my own alongside them. 
As an early childhood teacher, it is important to develop consistency through a routine schedule. However, when you realize that the students have been working on an art project for 10 minutes (and having a blast) and we are running out of time for this project, I remind myself to take a step back and breathe. We don’t always need to stay on schedule.  
The beauty and joy children discover in these creative explorations are the precious moments where my students truly grow and become their own person. For me, these moments are magic and remind me of why I love to teach.  
Creative Corner           
As a parent or caregiver, it can be difficult accepting the mess that comes with art projects. Who wants to clean paint, crayons and glitter off of every surface in your home? However, fostering a child’s artistic creativity is paramount. In the link below find art projects that push us to embrace the mess, and give our little ones the opportunity to explore.
Awesomely Messy Art Projects

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