by Sensei Michelle
I had an illuminating moment while volunteering in my daughter’s 5th grade class. While her teacher was conducting math, being an insatiable reader, she was covertly reading a book under her desk. I discussed it with her teacher who conceded she was considerably advanced and already knew everything he was teaching. Much to my surprise, the same day, my daughter asked me to stay during lunch, I thought it odd for a 5th grader, but was delighted to spend time with her. I came to realize that my daughter’s love of drawing dragons and reading left her cast out of any social groups at school. I also noticed that she had developed a rash under her bottom lip, which I later understood was the nasty bi-product of all the social anxiety she was subject to in the current environment. The stark realization was that I was sending my daughter to school only to be bored, lonely and rejected! I immediately researched alternatives for her education and was delighted to find a nice fit. Not only did she quite happily move up a year in math, but the system also allowed for creativity and a highly personalized curriculum including going to a theme park to study physics using roller coasters! She was thriving. I came to understand that where two of my three children were thriving, all of our children require an individual and distinct education, which serves who they are. It seemed a student on either side of the periphery of normal could sustain serious psychological injury in the education process, if this was not recognized. Horrific!!
Concurrently, I was teaching karate to children aged 3-7. Prior to this I owned and operated an exclusive preschool, putting to use my early childhood education degree. My preschool was dynamic and innovative; we went on explorations nearly every day and learned by living life fully: going to farms, on hikes, rolling down green grassy hills, cloud gazing, hanging out at the public library and going to petting zoos! It was a wonderful experience for the students and for me! I kept the numbers low so that each child could feel valuable, worthy and heard. I valued their thoughts and spoke to them with respect and dignity and not like “cute little kids.” I would use academic vocabulary, which would make them curious about the meaning of words. It was not unusual for parents to take off work to join us on one of our escapades!
The marriage of these two life experiences created the Tiny Tigers Inspired Teaching Method, where the emphasis lies exclusively on the formula, encompassing the student’s unique holistic experience based on their personality traits, strengths and personal challenges. Yes, challenges present themselves this early in life!! After years of working with children this age in a compassionate environment, it is quite clear that whatever their challenge we can address it in a healthy and positive manner and turn it into a strength with our distinguished and visionary method.
I have made a commitment to dedicate my professional life to: inspiring children to seek and attain their unbridled potential in a stimulating and nurturing environment. The foundation is laid for growth, development, self-expression and abundant self-confidence by recognizing and mentoring your child as a unique individual, by implementing positive reinforcement and an innovative teaching method. Translation: being flexible enough to allow the student to have a voice in class yet clear enough with their boundaries that they feel safe and with a deep sense of mutual respect.