Category Archives: Family Consultation

To Know The World Is Good

 

 

For the young child especially, but for all children as well, it is a rich life-lesson to experience “whole process” learning.  We live in a  fast-paced, fragmented world.  With the SOLs and Kindergarten Boot Camp looming large on our national landscape, when does a child have the opportunity to take a field trip to the apple orchard, bring the apples “home” to school,  process and cook them into apple butter to eat, weekly, on their home baked bread?   Or plant bulbs in the fall, and jump for joy as they peek through the late winter snow.  Activities as simple as working day after day on the apple butter, or using growing muscles to dig a bed for an autumn bulb….then sweetly forgetting all winter long….only to be amazed by early crocuses, teach endurance, patience and the reward of caring-for.  The young child learns it is good to live in a strong body, to work and care for the earth and oneself.  And to share this sense of goodness with those we love.  The buzz-word these days is self-regulation, but we just call it a healthy childhood.

Heart of Discipline Conference in North Carolina

Next weekend I will be in North Carolina for this wonderful conference.  Join us there!

Science on the Playground

“How does the world work, and how do I fit into it?” This is the daily, living question of the young child. We can allow plenty of time and plenty of space for our children to wonder, to explore, to experiment, to keep trying, to learn. And isn’t much of learning discovering the right questions to ask? In this way, the questions remain alive; the “answers” are part of an on-going process. When we allow this hands-on exploratory learning, and do not limit  the questions or answers with our linear adult concepts, the children learn in the same way Mother Nature herself learns: through scaffolding, or “serial functional progression.” The answers become a platform for the next set of really interesting questions. Our children experience themselves as avid students of life.

In these photos we see the Universe hard at work: How many stumps, boards, bricks and pine cones does it take to make the see-saw go down and the children go up? How do “up and down” operate, and what is the relationship between stumps, elbow grease and results? And what might be the relationship between the big black bugs and the small brown one (in the blue bowl)?  When we learn to live the questions, life is rich!

Bridge between School and Home

Hello, friends!  It is September and school has begun again.  The children are full of joy to be back into the simple warm rhythms; enfolded by this rhythmic flow, they grow more fully into themselves.  Here is what one parent wrote me about the bridge her child has built between home and school:

“The school day doesn’t just stop when the day is over. Greer plays school whenever she is at home as well. At home she gets the chance to be the teacher. She sets up our living room like the living room at The Rose Garden. Moving the coffee table and couches so that the space is just right. She brings in her own chair along with a cup of tea and some crackers. She sets her babies up in a semi circle around her so everyone can see and then she begins to “read” her story always starting with the chime of the bell which at our house is the clinging of silverware. She then sips on her tea as she tells her story with a big (all words) book in her lap.

When the time for resting comes up she prepares by laying all the colored silkies around the room and placing each baby it the appropriate place. She covers them says sweet words to them and gives each a gentle rocking motion to help the fall asleep. Once everyone is satisfied she goes to her chair and has a sip of tea.

Watching this take place in my own living room gives me a sense of satisfaction and pure joy. What my husband and I are giving our youngest of three is a treasure that is molding her into the gentle and kind human-being that we had hoped for when we decided to become parents.

Thank you to Sharifa and  Rebecca for keeping us grounded in what really matters in life. The innocence and love our children bring us everyday.”  Shannon

And thank you, Shannon, for sharing this with us! These rhythms create the foundation for a lifetime.  During the summer, I had the pleasure of talking, on separate occasions, with two of my former students who are now college students.  Each young woman told me how deeply her early years had formed and shaped her.  The years spent in this forest busily building “homes” for insects & feeding the birds as well as singing, painting, playing  and listening intently to stories had given them a deep love for the world, and also a beginning direction in their future work.  One young woman is studying environmental law and she said she paints for pleasure, while the other is a poet as well as environmental activist.

The environment of our home gives shape to the young soul; let us be joyful for this gift, as we go about  our “daily round!”

Re-Thinking Childhood: Parenting and Educating Children in a Time of Global Transformation

In agricultural societies, winter is the time to think-through and plan for the future.  Decisions regarding which crops to continue, which fields to allow to remain fallow, and new seeds to experiment with are at the forefront of farmer’s minds.  Today, as I watch the snowfall just  outside my window, I also am thinking of seeds for the future.  I am pleased to invite you to join me and others who contemplate our best future, to the March 4 -6, 2011 conference Re-Thinking Childhood: Parenting and Educating Children in a Time of Global Transformation hosted by Great Lakes Teacher Training, Milwaukee, WI.

Joan Almon, Executive Director of The Alliance for Childhood and I will keynote the conference.  We will work with a host of workshop presenters who will offer topics for educators, parents, community leaders and all forward thinking people.   This is from the brochure:

“Our world has been changing rapidly. We see transformation on a global scale in the fields of technology and science, in our natural environment and farms, in the economy and politics. It’s hard to even imagine the future our children will be entering into as adults. How can we best prepare them for the unknown? What experiences do they need to grow into adults who know themselves and have a sense of purpose? Can we imagine forms of education and childcare that support the development of meaningful relationships as a foundation for new and better ways of life”

Please follow this link, to visit and consider joining us for this important conference. Together we envision the future!    www.waldorftraining.com/marchconf120610.htm

On a final note, here is a thought from one of my up-coming presentations:

Those of us who are committed to the future ask ourselves a critically important question: “What is the best thing I can do, for the children?” But I would propose that we consider another equally critical question: “Who is the best person I can be, for the children?” How can I become my very best self? Who we are is the subtext our children read while we live each day with them, as we go about our “doing.”

It is our consciousness, knowing who we are, that shapes our children and the future as well. Raising and educating our children to know themselves prepares them best for whatever the future may hold. For it is in knowing ourselves, that we hold the compass which guides our actions. When we know who we are, we will know what to do.

“Green Space” and Winter Games

Virginia has had a very cold winter so far:  many, many days the temperature is below freezing, and plenty of days in the 20′s.  This has not phased The Rose Garden children, as we play in the woods!  As Helle Heckman says:  “There is no such thing as bad weather, there is only bad clothing!”   Equipped with woolie long johns, plenty of layers, snow suits even with no snow, and snug hats and mittens, the children have flourished in the cold.  “But why,” you ask, “send them out in such weather?”  It is hard to convey the importance of Nature, in the development of young children.

I wrote an article that was recently published in the Winter edition of Rhythm of The Home (click on Connections) a beautiful on-line magazine that you will want to visit.  These are beginning thoughts on outdoor play:   ” Outdoor play offers the child the opportunity to step into the long slow rhythms of the earth. The child readily comes to know their own bodied-ness when in intimate connection to the body of the earth. Running, swinging, jumping, creeping, sliding, kneeling, splashing, digging…all of this develops familiarity with and fullness “in the body.” The child develops strength, balance, agility, grace, flexibility, competence and confidence. This kind of “body-knowing” lays a foundation for all of these qualities to permeate the child’s whole being. Years later, the young person steps into the world with these capacities intact and readily available for the challenges and joys of adult life”

Here is a little more from an article of mine to be published in the Rhythm of the Home spring issue:

“Much research has been done, observing children’s play in both natural spaces, and in “built spaces” Studies show that children engage in more creative play in green areas than in built spaces. One study observed children playing in both “vegetative rooms”, (little forts and such that he children had built themselves) and in playgrounds dominated by play structures. They observed that children playing on the formal play structures grouped themselves in hierarchical subsets, dependent upon physical abilities. Whereas the children playing in the natural vegetative rooms used more fantasy play and their social standing was based more on language skills, creativity and inventiveness”.

Language skills, creativity and inventiveness abound when children are given plenty of creative play time;  time to run and frolic held in the arms of our Mother, the Earth!

The Lantern Walk is Coming!

Autumn is a time to turn around and survey the work of the year.  A time to assess what has developed, before we make plans for what is to come.  In doing this, I looked back to my first post on this blog, and here is what I found.  At the exact moment we begin preparing for the Lantern Walk this year!

“All week long the children had been watching Rebecca and me make paper lanterns of their watercolor paintings, folding and cutting the stars so perfectly, gluing and stapling, attaching the wire handles, filling each one with a candle. Such anticipation….the Lantern Walk!

Finally in the gathering dark, each little lantern was lit, their cut out stars shone bravely and the warmth of their red and gold glow gave us good cheer as we walked the woodland path. Rustling through the fallen leaves, singing through the woods, happily we trudged up and ever up the forested hillside. Round we looped, until at my long driveway’s end, the children had a thrill: if their parents agreed, they might hand the lantern to the adult, then run like the wind through the dark, all the way to the playground gate!

Like the children, we can work, in our adult life, to create a sturdy container, then carry our light into a dark world. We can follow the thread laid out by our own heart, illumined by the heart’s light, regardless of the twisting path or depth of darkness. In the end, we run on light feet, we run toward Home! This is an image to live with, to give our children, an image to begin a new journey together.”

Brain Trust

To watch these young children play freely in the natural world is like watching the time-elapsed photographs of a flower opening. Today eleven children spent more than an hour taking the kernels off Indian corn, and developing story lines which sprang from this: be-jeweled fairy houses, grinding stations, corn deliveries…the engines of society were revving, the intelligence pool of the future was popping.

Spring Festival

We live in the great round of the year, and the celebration of festivals lives deeply in our roots. Across all cultures and ages, humans have come together in observance of the progression of time, in recognition of our relationship to the earth. Although our western society has become far removed from these agricultural origins, we can give recognition to the way these rhythms still live in us through the celebration of family festivals. We can rejoice in the turning of the seasons at home with images, stories, foods and activities that evoke seasonal qualities. Many of the agricultural festivals and their closely associated religious holidays have been claimed by marketing agencies and have become overly commercial, devoid of soul. If we choose, though, we can ensoul them and make them our own unique celebrations. They can become a picture of our  life together.

In the celebration of a festival, we take a moment outside of the inexorable progression of time. We stop time, so to speak. In this way we can assess where we are right now. We can look back over the last year, remembering where we were, what we did, and who was present this time last year. We can pause to glance over what the year has brought, how we have changed and grown, as individuals and as a family. We can also cast our glance into the future, looking to see how  we will change in the coming year and what will be needed at that time.

In the Festival, we step into Eternity…come celebrate!

Let’s Talk About Play!

The Rose Garden has a Parent Evening coming up on Jan 27th, and we will be talking about the necessity of children’s play. Join us, if you can, or drop me a note with your thoughts! Here is an excerpt from Heaven on Earth

We say that children “learn by doing.” This is a common way of saying that the learning process is a miraculous orchestration and integration of the entire body, moving a million tiny interconnected particles toward the “gestalt” that is meaning. Children think through movement and play. In movement and play the brain goes through all the complex processes of growth and learning. The main avenue through which the child perceives the world is the realm of the senses. Through the natural sensory input of play, the child actively makes the world his own, rather than remaining a passive observer. Neurophysiologist Carla Hannaford, author of Smart Moves, says, “The richer our sensory environment, and the greater our freedom to explore it, the more intricate will be the patterns for learning, thought and creativity. . . . Our sensory experiences, both external and internal, shape our way of imaging and therefore, our thinking.” It is the life force through which the young child plays that will grow eventually into cognitive thought.

If we watch a young child at play, we can see that through her constant sensory/physical interaction with the environment, she gains experience and understanding of the situation, of herself, and the relationship between the two. She comes to know herself, the world, and what flows between.

Through sensory-rich play, the child gains a certain mastery over her body, and her world. She also begins to understand the inner world of emotional experience. It is critical that, through play, the different areas of the brain that control thought and emotion begin to communicate. “The frontal lobe,” Hannaford writes, “is able to synthesize thought with emotion through . . . the limbic system to give us compassion, reverence for life, unconditional love and all-important play.”