Friday, March 20, 2015

Building Community at the Table

The last few weeks have been an exciting time of transition as Cohort 9 left our room at the Preschool House and joined Cohort 7 and Elizabeth in the sunroom at the Infant House.  For Cohort 9, there have been many significant changes: a new house we meet at each day, different people around the school, a new room, a new yard, a new bathroom, and (most of all) 5 new children and a new teacher who are now part of our group.

Any time a group of people comes together there will be a period of transition, a time to get to know one another as a group.  At Tumbleweed, we place great value on the feeling of community in each group.  These first few weeks have been invaluable as a time to feel out how our new community works, how each of us likes to play and work together.  Meals and snacks at the table have felt especially important to me in this process of community building.

As I've written before, gathering at the table to eat is a very special time for Cohort 9, and I know it has for Cohort 7 as well.  It is a time during which we get to slow down and all work on the same thing: getting nourishment into our bellies.  Passing a bowl of food to a friend, as we do at our family-style meals and snacks, is a simple act filled with warmth and generosity.  Food is a sensory experience, and it's always wonderful to see what children notice about their food as they look, feel, smell, and taste at the table.  

Something that has been important for Cohort 9 has been singing "All I Really Need" before we start passing food around the table and eating.  We were so excited to share this song with our Cohort 7 friends and they have embraced it wholeheartedly.  Now everyone gets excited to sing together as we slowly move as a group from washing our hands, to getting our lunch dishes from the shelf, to sitting together at the table.  We wait for the whole group to sit before we count to four and sing together. 

Mealtimes are one of many daily routines that we see as meaningful.  By setting meals and snacks aside as a time for closeness, thoughtfulness, and communication, we are creating a space at the table where relationships can grow while minds and bodies are being nourished.  It has been inspiring to see the intention with which the children come to the table, making sure everyone gets each bowl of food as they are passed, checking to see what each person is enjoying, asking questions about food and listening closely to responses from teachers and friends.  I am sure that in our new group new mealtime rituals and routines will come about, and I am so excited to see how the group continues to process these moments of connection.

No comments:

Post a Comment