From the moment you walk through the MAC’s front door, it’s important to us that you realize our school is focused on minimizing the risk of child sexual abuse. It’s a topic we discuss on our school tours and practice every day in each of our communities.
"Welcome! The Montessori Academy of Colorado is about celebrating children and supporting a child's independence--and we are a body-safe school."
Walking through the school, you can easily see what is happening in each of the 13 classrooms, because all of the doors have windows. You notice that the bathrooms have child-sized toilets and offer partial privacy with half doors, allowing older children to take care of their own toileting, while being able to ask for help if needed.
"We help kids become more and more independent. For instance, if 2-year-old Tommy needs a new pair of underwear, he gets it himself from his cubby. If he puts the underwear on backwards, then so be it. With toddlers, we change them standing up, we use proper body part teminology, and we encourage the children to help. This way, the experience is something that's happening with them, not to them."
Even infants are introduced to concept of body safety practices during diaper changes, by way of staff explaining what is happening and why. Throughout the school, we never touch children without also telling them how, where and why we are going to touch them.
"Savannah, you have a wet diaper. I'm going to life you up onto the changing table, and take off your pants and wet diaper so we can clean you up and put a dry diaper on your body."
To facilitate good communication with parents, each classroom also completes a daily form for each child that documents which staff member was involved in each instance of toileting, eating and napping. If parents have questions about any particular incident, they know which teacher was in charge at the time, and subsequently with whom to speak.
At MAC, we work to ensure that all children and staff are safe and accounted for at all times. Adults and children spend their days in groups with one another. However, there are rare instances when a staff member must be alone with a child for a short period. When a situation that requires an adult to be alone with a child occurs, all MAC staff are required to take the following steps:
- Approach another adult in the group to tell them about the situation.
- Identify the child that needs to leave with the adult.
- Identify the reason why the child and adult are leaving the group area.
- Identify the location in which the adult and child will be.
- Indicate the time frame in which this activity should occur.
- Take the child to take care of the situation.
- Upon returning to the group, check in with the same adult to make note that the child and adult are back with the group.
"Ms. Eliza, Sally has wet herself while playing here on the playground. I'm going to take her inside to the classroom so she can get dry clothes, and we'll be back in about 15 minutes."
Along with a yearly staff training in body safety practices and protocol with Feather Berkower, founder of Parenting Safe Children, parent education classes are offered to ensure all adults in our community are on the same proverbial page. We are proud to provide an environment where the safety of children on all levels is regarded with the utmost importance.
MAC works with Feather Berkower for staff trainings and parent trainings through the year. For more information on Feather, please find out more at Parenting Safe Children.