Marni Fuente chuckled when asked to describe a typical preschool classroom.
“Everything is a teachable moment,” the veteran educator said. “You can play and learn, you know?”
That’s code for: Loud.
Kids are naturally curious and like “manipulatives,” as Fuente called them. Noise often equals learning.
At King’s Kids Christian Academy in Tampa, the kids are encouraged to be noisy while still embracing C.A.L.M.
“This program helps them to feel safe in their environment,” said school director Areva Green.
The faculty has been implementing a new program called C.A.L.M since February 2017. C.A.L.M. stands for Conscious Awareness Learning Model.
“It helps them understand that there is a reason why we’re doing the things that we do,” said Chanaci Maddox, who works at King’s Kids and has two students enrolled there.
C.A.L.M. is a collaborative approach to improving early childhood education by supporting teachers and families. The techniques are designed to allow children to feel safe in their environment, thus feeling more ready to learn.
Often, children enter kindergarten unprepared for a classroom setting. C.A.L.M. helps kids learn breathing exercises and proper emotional management among peers.
“[Teachers] tell them my job is to keep the children safe and they say my job is to keep my friends safe,” explained Green, who has been at King’s Kids for 24 years.
It’s about empowering kids through Conscious Discipline.
“C.A.L.M. is all about self-awareness and understanding, how we respond to each other, and to the environment has a large part to do with how children are going to respond to the world around them,” Fuente said. “It’s based on the concepts of conscious discipline, but we take it a step further and really having this global community impact.”
C.A.L.M. is fully funded by the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County. Teachers are trained monthly. There is a chance this program could expand to older children as well.
That is music to Maddox’s ears. She has a seven-year-old, too.
“Making the children feel like I am a person and not just a kid that doesn’t know what they’re talking about, that’s how I’ve seen it work,” she said.
C.A.L.M. is also partnered with Hillsborough Community College. Teachers who attend monthly on-site training are eligible for HCC school options.
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