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Teacher of the Arts

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Teacher of the Arts: Jessica McQuillen

By Michael J. Solender
Special to the Observer

Jessica McQuillen, 43, is a music and art teacher at Thompson Child and Family Focus’ Child Development Center. The nonprofit organization provides service and support to children from birth through age 5. McQuillen employs techniques modeled upon the Reggio Emilia Approach, which is designed to accelerate learning through self-directed curriculum and allows children to follow their individual interests and instincts.

Process vs. Product: “I emphasize to parents that early childhood development and learning hinges on many new and exploratory experiences for children. Let them get their hands dirty with clay and finger paints; let them play in the mud. Our focus is on the process, not necessarily the end result of play or artwork.”

Parental involvement: “Parents play a significant role, particularly with our Music Together program which emphasizes music at school, home and in the community. Benefits include socialization, increased self esteem and creativity. Even small things parents do, such as patting a baby’s tummy in time with the music, generate enthusiasm and involvement.”

Music as learning vehicle: “There are many aspects where music plays a role in learning and development. In partnering with others, the children learn socialization skills, they learn about rhythm and counting in time with the beat. Their literacy and vocabulary develops by learning words to songs. By using the percussion instruments they develop fine motor skills. Music is a tool that engages a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive skills, the connection is very strong.” Michael J. Solender

What’s your favorite arts group? Should we feature you or someone you know as a patron of the arts? Tell us why. Email living@charlotteobserver.com. Put patron in subject line.

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