Strengthening a Sense of Belonging within our School

Rathika Subramanian

KLA Schools of Plainfield

Plainfiled, IL – October 6, 2020 – KLA Schools are three months into the first semester of their 2020-21 School Year, and the inquiry-based learning is underway. As children play, experienced educators listen and record children’s questions and their thoughts about their world.

Morgan Sartain, the School’s Pedagogical Director, says, “We are always inviting and provoking the children to engage in intentionally planned experiences and provocations – thought-provoking materials in connection to the academic fields of knowledge and social skills. Our students conduct their investigations through the 100 Languages of Learning.” Ms. Morgan describes the 100 languages of learning as, “The infinite way’s children express their feelings and imaginings, go deeper, connect thoughts, and come up with questions. Ideas may present through journaling, sculpture, dramatic play, technology, music and movement, light and shadow, etc.” KLA Schools provide opportunities for children to share their learnings with others by sharing how they document their work. The educators and students reflect on their experiences and will then go deeper through in-depth projects.

In one 4s classroom, the children are diving deeply into the school’s intention, “Strengthening a Sense of Belonging within our School.” The educators made this decision after Meet the Teacher event on August 15, 2020. The teachers in the classroom describe why, “During our meeting, Ms. Morgan presented to the staff and families on Transitions and how change can be hard not only for young students but for everyone. Ms. Morgan shared that it takes up to 45 days for a child to feel comfortable in a classroom, but the sense of community has such an enormous impact on a child’s development and success. After the meeting, we decided to show how this group forms connections through the many experiences and classroom stories that have strengthened our relationships. Academics are essential to us, but we believe building citizenship is equally as important.”

On September 8, 2020, the group celebrated their first Star Student, even though Ms. Morgan says, “They are all Star Students no matter the day or week. However, each student creates a small poster all about themselves to present to the class for this experience. They work at home with their families and then stand up in front of everyone and describe their board. The boards are then later displayed for all to see. The intention is for the students to feel prideful and valued. By the end of the year, all the student’s posters are part of the display. It will show the beauty in diversity, but reflect how wonderful things are when we all come together.”

On September 4, 2020, to get to know each other better, the classroom had a group discussion during Assembly about the pets they have at home. Some of the responses included dog, cat, hamster, dinosaur, and fish. Yes, dinosaur, four-year-olds have fantastic imaginations! The teachers reported that much of the conversations were about how responsibility is fundamental when having a pet, and it takes the entire family to care for it. After the discussion, one of the teachers asked, “Would you all like the responsibility of caring for a class pet, a fish!” The response was unanimous, “YES!”

On September 8, 2020, the classroom adopted three Albino Pristella Tetra Fish. Their names are Princess, Popcorn, and Cake. The process of choosing the fish names was a very “Democratic Experience because the students came up with a lengthy list of names and did a series of voting to make the final decisions fairly.” Since the experience, the classroom has also adopted 4 Mystery Snails. They are not sure of the type yet, but have many questions and are eager to do some research and investigation to find out more about them!

The opportunities are endless for the students at KLA. The school believes in collaboration and the importance of hearing each child’s voice to promote a balance between belonging to the group and a sense of self. Their approach hinges on the belief that children are powerful and capable individuals who construct their knowledge.

About KLA Schools

KLA Schools of Naperville and Plainfield are leading preschools throughout Illinois. The students explore the world around them at their own pace, with the guidance and direction of highly skilled, trained, and compassionate teachers. These schools understand early learning’s vitality and continue to strive to remain a leader in early education. Helping children build a robust foundation for their future school years, KLA Schools provides a comfortable, safe, and exciting learning environment where children are eager to return day after day. To hear more, schedule a virtual tour by emailing admissions@klaschoolsplainfield.com.