About Cicada Schoolhouse

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Cicada Schoolhouse is a new play-based, place-based preschool led by me, Camella Clements. I began teaching in 2002.  This program will operate out of my home for the 2021-2023 school years. I have taught in public, private, and charter schools in New Orleans, Houston, and New York City. I am credentialed by the American Montessori Society, for which I have also developed curricula and trained teachers.  I have spent many summers learning reading and writing workshop through Teachers College at Columbia University. I am currently pursuing my Louisiana Master Naturalist certification. My approach is informed by my experience, training, but primarily through staying abreast of the current research on learning and child development. I am committed to teaching anti-racism and diversifying my pedagogical influences.

I have chosen the name Cicada because like the musical beetle, this idea has been developing for many, many years. I also appreciate the metaphor of a school that protects and nourishes childhood, as cicadae remain in nymph form for thirteen to seventeen years. All at once a they emerge from underground and form a vibrant chorus of song, perched in the high branches of trees. 

A research-supported,play-based approach:
our core values

Play: Our school is a decidedly play-based program. We believe that play is learning, and mounting body of scientific evidence supports this notion.  Play is how children process and integrate their experiences.  Play necessarily involves natural social and physical experimentation. Play involves taking risks and making mistakes (and messes!). As an early childhood teacher, I view my role as a protector of the real work of children, PLAY! We prioritize play outdoors and interacting with nature as much as possible. 

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Respect: Respect for children is another cornerstone of our program. Respecting children means inherently trusting them and their processes, rather than imposing our own adult values on them.  Respect means honoring their wisdom, allowing them to make choices about their bodies, trusting them, and giving them the tools and space to figure things out. It means speaking with children and listening to them with reverence and compassion, and taking them seriously.  We do not confuse respect with obedience. Teaching children how to respect one another is only possible if we, as adults, respect them. 

Community: We are a community of learners, learning together. We create space for democracy, consensus-building, negotiation, and conflict.  I often tell parents of early childhood learners that "conflict is the curriculum." How we create our classroom values, as a community, is described in more detail on the schedule. These values are our boundaries, which scaffolds how even our youngest community members can self-advocate.