A Teacher’s Role, View of the Child and Role of Families

Topic Progress:

Foundations 1, Part 3

Lesson 1: Role of Teacher and Families

and Our View of the Child

In this section, we will reflect on child development research and how we, as educators, can best support a child’s ongoing growth. A child’s development is dynamic and influenced by their relationships, surrounding environment and experiences.

How we view the child impacts the way we interact and build relationships. The MGT Experience Early Learning Curriculum is an inclusive model based on the premise that children have a right to an education and to grow to their fullest potential.


The child is an active participant in learning.

As children express interests, teachers adapt learning experiences to embrace and further these interests.
Mother Goose Time activities and projects provoke creative thinking and are simply a starting point for a child’s imagination.

There are 100 languages of children.

Loris Malaguzzi wrote, “The child has a hundred languages, a hundred hands, a hundred thoughts, a hundred ways of thinking, of playing, of speaking.” Mother Goose Time is inclusive of all learners and invites children to express their ideas through art, music, dramatic play and storytelling.

The child has a right to give and receive respect, compassion and empathy.

Every child has value and deserves respect, compassion and empathy. Children need a safe place to learn who they are within a community. As children become more socially aware, Mother Goose Time offers routines and experiential community-building opportunities for children to learn how they fit in communities, how to problem-solve social challenges and how to play kindly and cooperatively in groups.


Teachers provide structure through guidance, support and opportunities for creative problem-solving.

1.   Teachers observe and adapt learning experiences to support a child’s intellectual and social growth. Learning is a social process based on trust, respect and encouragement. Mother Goose Time curriculum embeds tips for adapting experiences to match the ages and abilities of learners.

2.   Teachers help children connect the dots and support the ever-expanding web of knowledge. To help children connect new knowledge to previous knowledge, teachers invite children to share what they already know and would like to learn about a topic. Mother Goose Time presents a new, long-term thematic study each month. Every thematic study is broken down into 20 related topics. Each morning, children are invited to share or show what they already know and what they wonder about each topic.

3.   Teachers ask big questions and help children reflect on learning to build meta-cognitive skills. A teacher is an observer, supporter and guide that brings wisdom and thoughtfulness to the child’s unique intellectual exploration.The Mother Goose Time lesson plans remind teachers to ask children about their actions and thoughts throughout the day. As children discuss what they do and show what they learn, a habit of reflection is created and leads to a deeper understanding of their individual learning stories.

4. Teachers allow children the freedom to make choices and pursue curiosity. Mother Goose Time offers “Table Top” activities that teachers can set out for children to select and do independently. Through these experiences, the child builds self-confidence in his or her abilities.


Environment is the third teacher.

1. Children construct knowledge by exploring their environment. They collect information and learn about the topic through hands-on discovery and investigation. Throughout the day, the Mother Goose Time curriculum exposes children to books, play-based activities and materials that reinforce the thematic topic.

2.   A variety of hands-on materials supports literacy and mathematical understanding. Children learn through sensory experiences and the integration of concepts in play. Mother Goose Time uses “small group” activities to introduce children to materials that integrate new math and literacy concepts. The teacher models the use of the materials then supports children as they play according to their developmental level.

3.   Self-directed and self-paced hands-on experiences support learning. Mother Goose Time provides materials and ideas to easily set up independent “table top” activities and STEAM stations.



Families support the child’s development.

Children thrive on routine, both at home and in school. Families build routines through actions, such as keeping regular mealtimes and reading each night. Routines that are consistent at home and school help children stay calm and safely take risks. The Mother Goose Time monthly family newsletter suggests games and storybooks to read with the child at home.

Families know the child’s culture and past experiences.

When schools and families work together, children have a much better chance for success, not just in school but throughout life. Parents know many things about their child the teacher doesn’t, including:

  • The family’s history, including life-shaping events and special relationships.
  • The family’s culture, including caregiving routines, communication methods, beliefs about learning and expectations for the future.
  • The child’s temperament, habits, likes and dislikes.

Families participate in goal-setting and routine communication.

Active communication between teachers and families allows for collaborative goal setting. By sharing child portfolios and talking about a child’s interests, a learning plan can incorporate both the child’s and family’s needs. Mother Goose Time offers educators tools to create child portfolios. These portfolios provide evidence of the child’s learning process and creative expression. Routine communication can happen during scheduled meetings or through digital family engagement tools like ChildFolio, an app that invites parents to comment, like and add photos to the child’s evolving portfolio.


Throughout the day,  the MGT with Experience Early Learning Curriculum system is designed to cohesively integrate the roles of teacher, environment and families to empower the child to reach his full potential.

Below, read more about how to interact, observe and engage with children during each type of activity with a typical MGT routine.


Your Role During Circle Time

Circle Time is a special way to start every day. Play the same song to cue the children it is time to gather on a rug or special corner of your room. The familiarity of  hearing the same song and meeting in the same place will help the child feel comfortable and know he belongs.

Topic Poster Discussion

Begin Circle Time by introducing the topic of the day and encourage children to share their ideas about it.

Your role during the discussion is to offer the child multiple sensory ways to participate and express their ideas in the discussion.



Here is an example of a discussion from the daily topic: Clouds

For each daily topic, you have a topic poster with a high-quality photo. The child can engage in a variety of ways during the Circle Time discussion:

See: Even during discussion, the child has a multi-sensory way to engage. He can use visual tools and cues such as the Topic Poster.

Talk: As the child looks at the poster, ask open-ended questions to invite children to practice verbal communication and expand their specialized vocabulary.

Do: Because some children are shy or not ready to communicate verbally, we pair every discussion with a hands-on experience so that children can show you what they are thinking. There are 100 languages of children and those who have limited verbal skills may be able to better communicate through actions.

This opening discussion is a special way to start the day and show every child that he belongs and is capable of participating and learning in his own unique way.


Your Role During the Community Challenge

The next step is to help children develop empathy so they can understand that others may have different thoughts and feelings. Empathy is the ability to imagine how someone else is feeling in a particular situation and respond with care. This is a very complex skill to develop. You can use the community challenge activities during Circle Time to let children practice empathy.

At the end of each Community Challenge experience, we include a quick tip so that you can know what social and emotional skills the children are gaining from the experience.


In summary, your role during Circle Time is:

  1. To help every child feel welcome.
  2. To allow children to participate in their own way.
  3. To nurture empathy and play a game that focuses on social and emotional skills.




Your Role During Small Group Activities

Small group is a special time of the day to work one on one with a child or to invite 3-4 children to participate together in a game or activity. We recommend a small group routine of:

  • Discuss and Explore
  • Play Together
  • Observe and Assess


Discuss and Explore

Begin every small group experience with an open-ended discussion and time for free exploration. Your role is simply to set out the materials and ask open-ended questions such as the one we’ve suggested in the Guidebook. Then observe and listen.

This exploration time helps children transition from whatever they were doing minutes before and focus their attention into this new experience.

Play Together

When the children are ready, you can model how to play the game or what to do with the journal, book or materials and encourage them to mimic you.

Your role during this time is to support the children by modeling. As you observe them play, reflect on ways to adapt the activity to the child’s interest and level. We help you do this by offering Simplify or Challenge tips.

As children play, assess.

Small group games offer you many opportunities to document the learning that you see naturally occurring. Sometimes there is so much happening, it might be difficult to know what to focus on and document. This is why we give you observe prompts at the bottom of an activity. These prompts help you focus on a specific skill or behavior while the child participates.

In summary, your role during Small Group Activities is to:

  1. Set out materials, ask open-ended questions and listen.
  2. Model how to play the game. As you play
    together, adapt the activity to match the child’s level.
  3. Observe how the child applies the featured skill.



Your Role During Table Top Activities

Table Top activities are designed for independent play and exploration. After you set out some familiar materials on a table, wait for a child to decide when he is ready to come investigate. He might choose to play on his own or invite a friend to play with him.

Although we call this type of experience “table top” – you don’t need a table. Children can investigate the materials:

  • On a tray
  • On a blanket
  • On the floor
  • In a car
  • On a horse (okay, that might be tricky)

What is important is not where the child plays, but that he has an opportunity to play independently in his own way. This is a less structured time than a small group activity and inspired by Montessori methodology. Your role is to set out the materials, observe and extend.

If the child invites you to look at what he is doing or making, help the child extend his thinking by asking some of the prompts in the Teacher Guide.

Always try to build on what the child is already doing.

As children play, you can observe his use of skills. The observe prompt at the bottom of the activity can help you know what to look for.

Table Top games and activities can be introduced on one day then left out for the rest of the week. Children enjoy the freedom to repeat the activity many times. Repetition helps them increase their competence and familiarity with the materials.


In summary, your role during Table Top activity is:

  1. Set out familiar materials or self-explanatory activities.
  2. When invited by the child, extend the child’s thinking by prompting him to take the next step.
  3. Observe the skills he uses while playing.


Your Role during STEAM Stations

STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math. STEAM can happen everywhere and is a very natural part of a young child’s curiosity. These 21st century skills are important for children to start developing at an early age. They may seem daunting to implement in your program but they don’t have to be.

Actually, by setting up STEAM stations, the children do all of the work. Your role is simply to support them and help them find any additional materials they need to make their big ideas come to life.

To help you set the stage for your engineers, we suggest five different hands-on STEAM ideas each week that you can easily set up in your existing learning space. We focus on these five common areas

  1. Block area
  2. Sensory table (such as a sand or water table – of course, just use a plastic storage tub if you don’t have a special water table)
  3. Science and nature table
  4. Dramatic play area
  5. Outside idea space

If you set up all five stations at the beginning of the week, your children can visit the stations repeatedly and expand on their projects or investigations throughout the week. To help stimulate their imaginations, ask them big questions. But remember to follow their interests and evolve the station based on how they engage with the materials.


Your role is to be a supporter and a resource.

There is no expected outcome for these STEAM stations.

They are intended to be places where children can freely explore their senses, test out their ideas, role-play and start projects that may continue for multiple days – a month or even a year.

Remember, children learn through their senses so although it may seem like they are just squeezing sponges over and over again in soapy water – they are making sense of their environment and using tools to accomplish goals.


In summary, your role with STEAM stations is to:

  1. Set up the station
  2. Stimulate imagination by asking the big questions
  3. Observe
  4. Support by adding materials as requested by the child



Your Role During Invitation to Create

What is an invitation to create? It is simply that – a way of displaying materials so that your children feel excited to start creating.

An Invitation always begins with some sort of provocation.

A provocation provokes the imagination. You can use a number of things to ignite the creativity of a child: photos, books, nature items, new types of art materials or even a question. The Invitation to Create is an art method inspired by the Reggio approach to learning.

To help you implement an Invitation to Create in your program, we include 8-10 ideas in every monthly kit. Each Invitation includes a range of materials that you could use to set up the provocation: A large photo, new types of art materials and a list of provocative questions. We also show you one way to set up the invitation so that it is aesthetically pleasing, organized and enticing to the child.


Your role after you set up the Invitation is to encourage children to take risks, experiment with the materials and express their creativity throughout the process.

Document the process by taking photos or writing notes about how you see the child making decisions, overcoming challenges and discovering new ways to use the materials.

You can make their learning visible by displaying the child’s art and photos from their process on a documentation board. Here is an example. We include these title labels to help you quickly assemble such documentation boards.


In summary, your role during Invitation to Create is:

  1. Set up the materials in an organized and visually pleasing display
  2. Observe and take photos of the child’s process
  3. Display the child’s art along with process photos and your observation notes


Your Role During Make and Play

The Make and Play activities focus on problem-solving and engineering skills while assembling a 3D model, puzzle, instrument or prop for dramatic play. This prop is a useful tool that the child can build and then may change the design over time to better match the intended purpose.

Make and Play projects blend art with spatial relations and dramatic play. We encourage children to create the tool independently.

Some children naturally gravitate towards open-ended art experiences like our Invitation to Create series, while others like more structured art projects such as the Make and Play. This all depends on their personality and skill strengths. The key is to challenge and support our children to develop skills in both types of artistic areas so that they are comfortable and can thrive in all situations.

Your role during a Make and Play project is to:

Initiate a discussion.

Use the open-ended questions provided in your teacher guide. This discussion will help the child personally connect with the prop he is about to make.

Support children as they make the project.

Although the construction of the tool is simple, some children may need help with cutting or gluing. Wait for the child to ask for help and help just enough so he can move forward on his own. Allow freedom in how he designs and assembles the prop.

After the child is done making the project, celebrate and continue to create.

Celebrate the child’s accomplishment of making something fun and useful. Now it is time to play. Encourage the child to experiment with different ways to play with their tool. When children see that they can make something just as exciting as something they might find in a store, they feel confidence and pride.

Encourage an iterative process.

If the tool breaks or doesn’t work as expected, challenge the child to keep thinking and problem-solving. This is how the child will use engineering and problem-solving skills. The process of revisiting our work, improving and fixing it, is the basis for complex design thinking.


In summary, your role during Make and Play is:

  • Initiate a discussion about what we can make to use in the child’s play or work.
  • Support the child as he independently makes the tool
  • Celebrate the child’s ability to make useful tools and encourage him to continue to create and recreate according to improve the design.

Your Role During Story Time

Books are a key tool that you can use to build literacy skills.

Each day, we offer you a Story Time tip to easily integrate a reading routine into your day. You will discover that there are four main ways to bring stories

into your day:


  1. Introduce the book and Read-Aloud
  2. Repeat the book and Answer Questions
  3. Retell the story
  4. Rewrite the story


Let’s talk about each of these three approaches and your role when using them.


  1. The first time you read a book, take time to look at the pictures on the cover. Invite children to predict what will happen in the story. As you read, pause to explain unfamiliar words to build vocabulary.
    It is important to expose your children to a variety of books: Read books that use rhymes or repetition to help children anticipate the words of the story. Read other books with more involved plots and complicated vocabulary. Sometimes read familiar stories, such as fables and fairy tales, as well as unfamiliar ones. We recommend eight books to read and repeat throughout the month to help you select high-quality literature.
  1. Reread and retell a book one or two days later. A repeated reading helps children gain more understanding about the story.
    A simple way to do this is to turn the pages of the book and invite a child to tell you what is happening on each page. The illustrations will encourage his memory of the story events.
    You can also use a puppet or visuals, such as the included storytelling magnets, as props for children to retell the story.
  1. To help a child think beyond the story, provide activities that allow them to rewrite the story. Encourage them to revise the story by changing events or characters. A child can change simple facts (e.g., what a character eats) in the story or even change the story’s ending. By using props, the child can act out the new story and imagine new endings.

In review, your role during story time is to read, retell, rewrite:

  • Read every day
  • Offer props to help retell
  • Encourage children to rewrite the story according to their imagination

Your Role During Music and Movement

Dance is accessible to all children and important for both brain development and reducing stress. There are many benefits to the child’s development when you include dance in your daily routine:

  • Dance builds confidence
  • Physical strength enables children to move and act independently
  • Independence, in turn, supports the development of social-emotional skills 
  • Dancing in groups increases the respect for others and awareness of personal space.

We recommend you incorporate a dance or large muscle routine every day. To make this easy and fun, we have included award-winning preschool music with your curriculum as well as a movement suggestion in the Teacher Guide.

There are two types of dance:

  • Creative movement, where your role is simply to play music and let children twist, turn and dance however desired.
  • Functional movement, where your role is to demonstrate a movement and encourage children to mimic you. This can be as simple as nodding your head or tapping lightly on the floor. We have integrated the Dance ‘n Beats program in the Mother Goose Time curriculum. This program features 21 core movements that build coordination, strength and balance. Download a Basic Movements Poster here: DnB_BasicMoves

Dance requires no large or expensive equipment; it crosses cultural boundaries and differentiates for diverse learning styles, abilities and ages. Whether it is a sunny or rainy day, don’t forget to dance.

In review, your role during Music and Movement is to:

  1. Play music and dance freely with the children
  2. Demonstrate a movement and invite children to copy you. Watch a child move and copy the child’s movement

Next: Lesson 2 Managing Transitions: Drop-off Routines >


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