The Moorestown Friends School Early Childhood Program

Beginnings at MFS – Inside the Classrooms!

At our Open House on Tuesday, April 18 (9-10:30 a.m.), parents can get an inside look at the progression through the Beginnings at MFS program. You’ll spend 10-15 minutes in a Preschool, Prekindergarten, and Kindergarten classroom, led by Beginnings and Lower School Director Kelly Banik. Current Beginnings parents will also be on hand to answer questions and chat about school life at MFS. Whether you are considering Beginnings at MFS for 2017-18 or beyond, take advantage of this opportunity to see our early childhood program in action during the school day! RSVP here today!

Leadership Values at MFS

Growing Young Preschool Leaders

Growing Young Preschool Leaders

I was a having a conversation recently with Martha Cameron, the Director of Auxiliary Programs here at Moorestown Friends School, about a Leadership course that she and Head of School Larry Van Meter teach to the 10th grade students. Martha was telling me about the “natural connection between Quaker values, Quaker decision-making, and Servant Leadership.” We thought about servant leaders; that is, leaders who look first to serve and who lead by inspiring others. Martha noted that “serving alongside people helps create a culture of ‘we’re in this together’ which further stimulates positive morale and quite possibly greater productivity.” This conversation prompted me to think about how we appreciate, support, and grow young preschool leaders.

What are ‘Young Preschool Leaders?’

Keeping in mind the idea of serving alongside people, we can understand how preschool students show leadership. Young leaders often see the big picture, appreciating their role in group work. Young leaders often collaborate with others, working on projects that incorporate many people and many perspectives. Young leaders appreciate and respect the talents of peers, and look to them as resources to be valued. Young leaders believe in themselves and contribute to the identity of a group, whether it be the classroom, a school, a family, or the world around us. While these may sound like lofty goals, they are, in fact, talents which children possess and which can be cultivated by listening and supporting leadership qualities in our preschool students.

Ways to Grow Young Preschool Leaders

At the heart of servant leadership is the idea of serving alongside others. Each child leads by example, takes on challenging roles, and inspires by honoring the ideas and capabilities of their peers. In my classroom, I look to build situations and systems which give space for children to be leaders. Small group situations foster collaboration and listening, and a space to safely share ideas. Our morning meeting is a place for the whole class to engage in collaborative decision making about the day. Block building and dramatic play are spaces to test out new theories or identities, and to grow those ideas alongside peers. The commonality in all of these examples is that children are the protagonists of their work, and solve problems – both social and academic – in collaboration with others. In my opinion, young leadership skills are born in dialogue.

Modeling Leadership

Part of growing young preschool leaders requires modeling good leadership as adults. I try to keep the model of servant leadership alive in mind as I understand my role in the classroom. While we each have a role to play, children and I make decisions together about how we will engage with our learning. As I plan out curriculum, I always remind myself to listen to the ideas of the children and to incorporate those ideas – along with mine – into our work.

Stay tuned next week for some more concepts and strategies about early childhood education from our Moorestown Preschool program.

Beginnings at MFS is the Moorestown Friends School Early Childhood Program (Preschool, Prekindergarten, and Kindergarten). The Beginnings Blog is intended as a helpful tool for parents and guardians of young children, examining important ways in which children find meaning, in their lives and in their education.

Author Garrett McVaugh is the Beginnings at MFS Half-Day Preschool Teacher. Along with his Teaching Assistant Pauline Williams, he guides some of the youngest MFS students through their first year of school. A graduate of Haverford College, Garrett has been an early childhood educator for over a decade. Prior to MFS, he was a teacher at Preschool of the Arts in Madison, WI. Prior to living in Wisconsin, Garrett spent eight years teaching at St. John’s Episcopal Preschool in Washington, DC.