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Brave and true will I be, Each good deed sets me free, Each kind word makes me strong. I will fight for the right! I will conquer the wrong!
April 6, 2020:
Dear Robin’s Nest Families,
I hope you all had a fantastic week with the most blessed Sunday full of sunshine. I will be doing doorstep drop offs today and tomorrow: the new story of the week as well as some new handwork projects. Usually our stories in the kindergarten are held over many weeks, first being told orally, then as a puppet show, and in the last week, we do our stories as a class play. The children really are able to live into the stories and really enjoy acting it out as a play with their classmates and me as narrator.
In the Waldorf tradition, and also in mainstream early childhood classrooms, it is important to note that the artistic experience is one with the main goal being focused on process not product. When we undertake an experience be it painting or a small craft, we have to let go of our adult mind that wants it to be just perfect, of wanting to know what it is supported to look like and of our perfectionist nature. We want to feel free in our experience. This is important for our children to see and for you to feel. Waldorf education is almost like a training of the brain in a way to be able to see the world from a holistic and artistic point of view to see the beauty in all things. I realize that many of us did not have this experience as a child so it may take some active work on your part to let go of expectations that you have for yourself. You may never have sewed in your life and now feel like I am asking you to do that. Of course, your handwork project won’t look the same as someone that spends all their free time on handwork projects, you are learning, and your hands are learning new skills that they have never done before.
This is an image of some little Christmas elves created some years past that my children had made in imitation of me. Is one more perfect than the other? No, not really, they are all expressions of the same thing. So have fun with the handwork projects and if the instructions say to make a gnome and you make a dog that is also okay. It is more about exploration with the materials than a final product.
On this note, we will transition to the topic of our exploration of rhythm. It is important that we are not putting unrealistic expectations on our own children as we look at rhythm. It is said that 2/3 of a child’s day should be spent in free play. The in breaths (focused adult lead activities) such as the story are very short in comparison to the out breath of free play. So, if your children are happy playing that is the best place for them to be and where most of their learning comes from.
How is everyone’s rough draft and observation of their family rhythm doing? I know I personally observed a few things this week. My personal observations were around finding a work/family time balance which caused me to decide to keep the weekends free from any work/homeschooling activities. With Saturday in my home being house cleaning day and Sunday being a day of rest. Chores are a part of every classroom at our school and are a great way to share responsibility for caring for a space. In our kindergarten the children all do chores right after lunch. Washing dishes, drying dishes, putting dishes away, wiping down tabletops, changing the bathroom towels, sweeping the floor, getting the face clothes ready and putting the chairs on the table are some chores your child does at school. Each child is assigned a chore daily. They all look like busy little elves and it is one of my favorite times in the kindergarten as we are all working together caring for our space in joy.
For the home, I draw little pictures (for my non reading children) and each child signs up for different chores that they are happy to do. Keeping the chores to one or two a day seems manageable for children of the kindergarten age and the most important factor being that when we work, we work out of love not duty. I have attached last Saturday’s chore list from my family so you can get a picture.
Side by side: and
Sunday holds a quality of rest and new beginnings. I often say, “We cannot DO unless we rest.” To have action we need to have nonaction or to breathe out we need to breathe in. Sunday (or depending on your family’s natural rhythm) would be that day. It is for appreciating all we have and being with those we love. Sunday’s are a wonderful time to take a long family walk in nature (perhaps with a packed picnic!) and to just be with each other in gratitude. This day is the pause before the new beginning. You could do your meal planning for the week (I am even having my children sign up to make breakfast one day a week) or set some realistic goals for yourself of what you would like to accomplish this week. Take some deep breaths, get fresh air and fill yourselves up with joy for the week ahead. Be easy on yourself and those around you as we all learn to navigate these interesting times that we find ourselves in.
I also would like to send out my overwhelming thank you to all the people in our community that are doing so much work in support of our community. I know Aly(Skye’s mother) has been putting a tremendous amount of time and work into updating the website to include a new section on School Away From School. My utmost gratitude goes out to her and her family in helping the school at this time while balancing her own family life. Caitlin Rooney has also been bridging the teachers’ content to the needs of the website which is a blessing to the faculty.
I encourage each one of you to reach out to one or more of your class parents in some way. Small little acts of kindness really help keep us connected as well as uplift spurts and create goodness in the world.
March 31, 2020:
Dear Kindergarten families,
I hope you have all been finding some light in our current situation and are able to see the blessings amidst the chaos of our times. I was able to reach almost everyone with the kindergarten care packages this weekend. These packages are simply ideas on what you could be doing with your family, I included the kindergartens daily and weekly rhythms as an example. The craft activities are for your enjoyment and are in no way mandatory. If you run out of materials or require any more materials (even for siblings) do not hesitate to reach out to me, I am happy to share.
One missing piece was the painting supplies. I did not have paint jar lids to transport the paints but hope to get that to you all this Saturday. Please also allow for some grace as I maneuver the photocopy machine, e.g. The story this week.
This week, as parents, we are working with creating rhythm in our home life. We start with observing our own natural rhythms. What time your family wakes up, tends to eat at, times you find challenging that may need more centering activities…
Daily, weekly and seasonal rhythms are the anchors that provide security and happiness to your child. With a strong daily rhythm, a child knows what to expect and what is expected
of him. If you observe nature you see rhythm embedded in everything: the seasons, the moon cycle, the sunrise, the seasons, the growth cycle of a plant… With rhythm in the home, simple daily activities become habits. In the early years daily rhythms revolve around food, sleep and creative play both indoors and outdoors. These rhythms are held with simple rituals such as a family meal blessing or a story and verse before bed.
If children have regular external rhythms, internal rhythms will develop- the child’s metabolism will be more predictable, hunger will occur at the same time each day and sleepiness will creep in at the usual bedtime.
Seasonal rhythms, festivals and celebrations teach children about honouring the circular nature of the earth. Within the beauty of the changing seasons a child develops an appreciation for life and death.
Rhythms are not to be confused with schedules. A rhythm is simple, and it flows like water. It’s the striving through perseverance and dedication that matters not that you sit down at exactly 1pm every day for dinner. Focus more on following the flow of the day, not necessarily a slave to the clock. Get back to basics and remember simplicity is the key.
Rhythms are to be revisited seasonally and are a living thing that changes ever so slight overtime. We always want to come back to what our family values are, and if our outward actions are representing these family values. This will help us gain some clarity about what it is you want to change about your family rhythm and why. It will also enable and inspire you to make small, do-able changes that overtime will create a family rhythm that is familiar and comfortable for all of you.
So, I ask you all to observe your family’s natural rhythms.
What are your family’s values? Example: like a mission statement for your family, the beliefs and values you hold dear.
Is there anything you would like to be part of your family’s daily or weekly rhythm that is not currently there? Let’s find the space and time for it.
Think of times in the day that you are finding challenging? How can we create connections in those times?
We will be adding simple pillars to the day such as a song to greet the day, meal blessings, transition songs, and bedtime routine. These help hold the whole day together.
After observation you can start to do a rough copy of your daily rhythm. I have attached my rough draft of my family’s current rhythm. After writing it down, observe again to see if this rhythm makes sense right now. You can then work out a weekly rhythm (great time to make a weekly meal plan). I will be sending some supplies for you to turn this activity into an artist experience. As you can see not many of us wake up at 3am and go to sleep at 7pm. Everyone is different and diversity is one of the core blessings of the human being. Observe yourself and your family first before putting external expectations on yourself. Rhythm is a natural flow.
March 24, 2020:
I will be reaching out to all parents through a phone call to connect and ask how I can best support your family during these times. My plans as of current, which I will reevaluate after speaking to all of you, are to offer:
Parent education: In regards to creating a daily, weekly and seasonal rhythm for your children which is centred around your unique family values, sharing articles on how important it is for children to know deep down that the world is good, and how there is value in crisis(not only this crisis also small quarrels between friends or family members).
Connections with our community and ideas on how to keep up community spirt: I would like us all to support each other and actively create connections to each other. Examples of this have already been shown to me through families dropping off prepared meals for my family while we are in self quarantine (in regards to my Maine trip). How can we connect and support each other? We all have something to offer our greater community and I would love to see each family clearly identifying what they can offer their community. One beautiful example of this that comes to mind is Rob and Becky at Bayport Home Farm (Annabelle’s family) who have committed to growing food for this community and are now offering delivery options for their vegetables as well as offerings from Taproot and Elmridge farms which in turn will help support the school as a small fundraiser.
Now is also the time for getting your own garden ready. A family who has sent their child to Forest Friday and are friends of the school are seed savers and a good source for garden seeds. Chris and Garrett’s website: www.yonderhillfarm.ca (Incredible Seeds is currently over-extended with orders.)
Bringing School life home: For the children I will be sending home care kits on Thursday and Friday which I will drop off at each Child’s home/mailbox. These kits will include parental education on creating a rhythm based on family values, the importance of daily nature walks, handwork, woodworking and gardening projects for the children to complete with parental help. The children will also receive a book for daily colouring, recipes for baking, and their painting supplies. I will share some spring songs and games and there will be a golden book where the story of the week will be and which I will add to every week. These activities and projects are not necessary but are available to you and I am available for guidance.
Childcare: I realize that one of the main features of the school for most families is childcare. We now have to become creative in the way we balance our adult work life with having our children at home. My only thought on how we can create a balance in this regard is perhaps reaching out to one other family who’s values align with yours and exchange childcare with them. Obviously this would need to include clear communication about your view and interactions with the greater world right now and clear boundaries would have to be shared as it is not realistic to expect children younger then 7 to be able to stay at a safe social distance. The topic of how a daily rhythm can help you achieve a work/parental balance will be discussed in the parental education. When we take the time to really connect with our children then they are able to go into creative play by themselves for a period of time before returning to you for connection. I am asking that each parent be aware of their relationship with technology right now and set aside certain times in the day where you do not work with technology, check you emails/phone and are absolutely present in the moment with your children. This will have a great impact on how much attention your children are asking of you through the day.
Nature Walks: I am asking that each family put aside time to daily at the same time each day to go for a nature walk(don’t forget to keep the media part out of it to fully appreciate the present moment in the season and world right now). You will be amazed with how this simple ritual will change the way you feel and your relationship to the outer world. Spring is a time of inspiration where the whole world is bursting with excitement like a seed turning into a sprouts then, plant then flower. The beauty of the world changes your relationship with everything around you. Fresh air and sunshine are some of the worlds greatest healers.
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Contact your class teacher if you have any questions or requests regarding Distance Education during COVID-19.