Sunday, July 10, 2016

Community & Transition

We've had a busy few weeks at the preschool house! Cohort 7 & 9 made the transition from the Infant House to the Preschool House and there was an excited hum in the classroom each morning as everyone noticed unfamiliar faces and practiced names of new classmates and their families. Each day we have stepped through our various routines as a new group, learning about each other as we go along.

While creating art, reading books, and playing with materials around the classroom, we discover common interests and begin to understand more about what drives each child's unique curiosity about the world -- is it dinosaurs? Families? Babies? Drawing designs, letters, numbers, etc? Making people laugh as we work? Telling stories about family, animals, adventures? Sinking into art and sensory experiences without talking, but instead with quiet focus? Through overt conversation and curious observation, the group comes to know each other's rhythms as they create, learn, and play.

Outside, we learn what physical challenges each child is working on - climbing, biking, balancing, running. We notice who spends quiet moments in the garden and who races right to the tower to jump into an exciting game. We find out that many children in our group love to search for insects and butterflies, practiced in the ways of gentle observation and excited to share discoveries with their friends. The children who are new to the preschool house learn from the other children what boundaries there are and what we can do to keep each other safe with all of the exciting materials available.

Mealtimes bring us together each day and provide a comfortable place for conversation. We take the opportunity to find out how different kids spend their weekends, who is part of their family, and what changes have taken place or are being anticipated in their home life. And, of course, it is an opportunity to learn about each other's eating preferences! Some kids don't like milk, while others love it. Some gobble up every vegetable in sight, while others are less sure. Some make sandwiches out of their food, eat slowly or quickly, with humor or seriousness. All of this conversation and observation builds familiarity between children, and occasionally inspires someone to try something new - a food or way of eating previously unexplored.

In the bathroom we learn who wears underwear and who uses diapers. We support conversations between children about what their bodies are currently practicing with regards to using the toilet and listening to their bodies. We normalize every stage of this process and notice with the children that this doesn't necessarily have to correlate with age and size - every child makes a plan with their family when they feel ready to do the big work of practicing the skills needed for wearing underwear daily. No matter how big or old you are, at our school you get to choose! We accept whatever feels right for each child's body.

As we move through the flow of each day together, we get to know each unique, vibrant, complex personality that is part of our school. Each child approaches and reacts to situations in their own way and time, and each child expresses emotions differently. We support everyone in making these observations, and convey to them that everyone is safe here, supported, seen, and heard - our differences are valuable and no emotion or perspective is unwelcome in our space. We help each other find ways of safe expression when the emotions are big and tricky, finding joy in both these moments and the light-hearted ones.  We are a team! A community filled with similarities and differences, challenges and triumphs, with so, so much to learn from each other.

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