Appreciating the value of an arts-integrated education

Learning by Doing[17]
November 22, 2021 submitted by Jamee Downes for South Shore Conservatory (courtesy photo) 

When our family moved to Hingham in 2016, one of our top priorities was finding a good school to provide a solid academic foundation for our three-year old son, Teddy. Through a friend, I learned of South Shore Conservatory’s art-integrated preschool program and loved the idea that Teddy could learn about the wonders of percussion, art, dance, drama, and yoga while making new friends.

Teddy and I were invited to the school for a tour. At 9:00 am we walked into SSC’s front doors, and didn’t leave until almost noon. During our visit, Teddy played with EVERY toy possible, participated in a fine arts demonstration, helped clean up the classroom, and had snack with his new friends. I still say we must hold the record for the longest class visit - neither Teddy nor I wanted to leave this special place.

Despite our wonderful visit and our ‘brave talk’ on the way to school, Teddy was inconsolable on his first day of school; that is until we met Ms. Carol, the teacher who changed everything for our son. That morning he wore a ‘big boy’ tee-shirt with a snake on it and carried the tiniest LL Bean backpack. We walked into the very room where we had so much fun together, and tears and pure terror took over.  Seeing my struggle, Ms. Carol walked over and said “Hi Ted, I see that you like snakes. Well, come over here, I want to show you a picture of a snake I found in my garden.” He grabbed her hand with wide eyes and never looked back.  I’m forever grateful.

Five years later, Teddy’s two closest SSC friends are STILL his best buddies in the 3rd grade, despite different school districts. I also met ‘forever friends’ at SSC during Teddy’s preschool years and, as a mom who just moved to Hingham, remain incredibly thankful for the families I met during this time.

With a Master of Education, I have a strong academic understanding of successful early childhood learning environments. Building and establishing trusting relationships is a critical component in developing social-emotional skills in early childhood education. I was confident Teddy would foster positive relationships at SSC that would successfully prepare him for the transition to kindergarten. I also appreciate the value of an integrated arts curriculum and the tenets of a whole child approach to education. At SSC, students are more engaged because they take on a more active role in their learning. Children are naturally creative and when given varied opportunities to create through music, movement, and open-art experiences it instills a sense of pride and self-esteem.

A full circle moment for me was this year when I was offered a full-time teaching position in the 2-day and 3-day programs. Over the years, I have been a substitute and classroom helper in the PreK, and Preschool programs, but am overjoyed to officially be a part of the wonderful SSC faculty.

South Shore Conservatory’s arts-integrated Preschool/PreK/Kindergarten holds its open house for new families on January 11 from 4:00 – 6:00 pm.  To reserve your time slot, contact Rachel at [email protected]  Learn more about this program at https://sscmusic.org/ppkk-home/.

Content sponsored by South Shore Conservatory.

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