When I arrive, it's snack time.
Children are eating, chatting, laughing, negotiating food passing, scooping, drinking.
When I bring my camera out, everyone is interested in looking into the lens.
Most choose to help clean up after snack--sweeping, wiping the tables, putting cloths into a bin, ensuring all uneaten food goes into the compost bin.
A few more children take the opportunity to look into the lens.
Before long, the camera's newness wanes.
Rio offers up the opportunity to stretch on the rug.
We sing a song we learned from Iris years ago,
"Amy! Amy! Jump up and down!
Amy! Amy! Spin around!
Amy! Amy! Dance your own way!
Amy! Amy! What's your stretch today?"
Each child takes a turn jumping, spinning, dancing, and stretching.
Others follow along or observe.
Rio encourages awareness: "Whoa! Look at E! Her hands are down on the ground, and her leg is up in the air! Let's take a deep breath in this stretch..."
Then Rio reads a book.
The children are focused, interested, and engaged.
Each child's sense of safety, security, and belonging is clear.
They know what's expected! They know what comes next! They know what choices they have!
It's comforting and empowering.