Marji's House


Background and Philosophy




Marji’s House has been operating since September, 1986, when I, Marji Hayner, took over the operation of Kathy’s Early Learning Center, the preschool and child care center in which I had been working for eight months.  I then turned it into Good Beginnings, before finally changing the name to Marji’s House, since that’s what the kids always called it anyway.


My philosophy of a quality preschool experience has remained the same throughout the years. The most obvious reason being the children's continued happiness, and ability to thrive and flourish, while engrossed in the structured yet situationally accommodating creative space of Marji’s House.


I take the child’s entire spectrum of wants and needs into account.  Some are things they decide upon, which goes along with being the totally unique individual they are, and other things I decide, based on initial intense training and education, years and years (year after year) of experience (24 years at Marji's House, and counting), and most importantly, an innate sense of understanding and empathy for the child I come to know.  I remember being a child, what it felt like, what I thought about.  I remember very clearly, and that is the initial base place from which I draw the understanding I’ve developed throughout the years.



Although I spend my days with the children, I am actually serving the family as a whole.  It’s most important that you as a parent are secure and enthusiastic about choosing Marji’s House.  I’m here to listen to you, not just the children, and I encourage you to talk.  Let me know how things are going for you.  I need feedback from the parents in order to continually grow and develop as a provider and a center.  It’s the parents who have been a large part in making Marji’s House such a success story.


Okay, now a little about my own foundation.


I grew up in a family of eight in the 1960’s.  My mother rose to the top of her field in occupational therapy, before leaving her profession and getting married at 33.  She met my dad in the hospital where he was completing his residency in internal medicine and after two years of marriage she began having babies.  She had her last child at the age of 41.  Six kids in six years.  My dad ended up specializing in public health.  He was first with University Hospital in Seattle (before I was born) then University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, where we lived until I was 10.  We moved to East Lansing at that time, where he became Chief Epidemiologist for the state of Michigan.  It was 1971.  He kept that position until he retired about 15 years ago.  Consequently I enjoyed (?) smoldering hot summers and freezing (way below, actually) winters.  We played hard through all of it.


We investigated and explored together.  We climbed trees and built forts stashing them with stuff we found in the trash in front of student’s houses.  (It wasn’t until much later that I realized what some of that weird stuff was- oh well, we lived.)  We played street games with the entire neighborhood of children, who used to hang out at our house because it was the funnest house on the block.  We played kick-the-can, pickle, hide-n’-go-seek, Frisbee, or if my brother wanted a few teams for baseball, it was easy.  Just our family and few other kids would be enough to make it work.  We played until dark, when my mother would ring the big cowbell, which could be heard for miles around.  Time to go home and get ready for bed.


In the winter we would spend all day at the huge outdoor ice rink, skating all day until dark.  Or, just as likely, we would be sledding or tobogganing at the arboretum until our feet were sufficiently frozen enough to head home for a thaw by the fire.   With hot chocolate, of course.


We had our quiet times, too, such as reading or being read to at night, or playing intensely competitive board games (which weren’t that quiet, come to think of it) after homework, of course.


We communicated with each other.  We talked, laughed, and argued. 
We had no television, and that was planned.  We spent our time actually experiencing life, rather than watching somebody else's ideas on the "boob tube" (as my Daddy called it!).  We didn’t miss it.


We lived in a way that is hard to duplicate these days, but at Marji’s House, I’ve been able to create a lot of the same spirit.  It’s based on loving praise and encouragement and tons of positive attention in an environment with a clear enough structure so that the kids know what is expected of them and what is going to happen next.  Sometimes parents wonder why the children listen to me, or why there seems to be such a contradiction between their child’s behavior at home versus Marji’s House.  Well, without implying that a child’s interaction with a parent can be fairly compared to interaction with another primary authority figure, there are ways that we do things, ways we interact specifically and continuously, that seems to be the paint that makes a pretty picture.


The most important thing, as far as managing the kids in a way that works well for us and also provides for an environment full of happy children with high self- esteem, is POSITIVE ATTENTION.  This means we don’t wait for the child to do something wrong (something we don’t want repeated) to give our enthusiastic and undivided attention. The children receive attention while playing nicely, being helpful to their friends and being a “good listener”.  We notice these things and speak to them enthusiastically about how much we appreciate what they are doing or how they are interacting.  The children at Marji’s House do not have to create an unpleasant situation to be noticed. (Note:  I instruct people who work here to avoid saying “ Good girl” or “Good boy”.  I feel that if you call a child “good” you are implying that with another behavior he could be called “bad”.  You are qualifying the child rather than the behavior.  So instead you will hear us say “Good job!” “Thank you for being such a good helper!” “Such good manners!”  “Good idea.” Etcetera.  And when the term comes up with the children my response is this:  “No bad boys and no bad girls. Sometimes when people are learning they do things we don’t like.  But all children are good.”)


Positive attention is very important at Marji’s House.  How we speak to your child is of paramount importance. (A visiting licensor once commented that our children are more verbal than children in other centers.)


We’ve made it a habit only because it works so well.


I believe that children should be treated as complete human beings who just happen to be in a different developmental stage than most adults.  As adults who matter in their life we have a chance to surround them with encouraging words and acknowledgment.  I believe it is our job to help build your child.  A child with strong self-esteem and a feeling of accomplishment every day is a child who has a great foundation for anything else she may want to do in life.  I guess you could say that we will help to create in your child a strong foundation that he will be able to fall back on for the rest of his life.


This picture was take by Cole Levy, who was having his last day outing at Camp Long with several of his friends who were also going off to Kindergarten.He was five years old!
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