Trust: Aligning ourselves with our purpose requires trust in ourselves and each other
Trusting the Process
It has been 5 1/2 months since we opened the doors of Inspired Explorations Learning Community and the growth and evolution that has transpired within this community is astonishing. From learning new routines and creating brand new friendships to discovering ways to be peaceful and exploring the changes in season, our learners continue to expand their vocabulary, recognize and share their feelings with peers, understand the importance of taking care of our land, as well as so much more!
2017 is sure to continue bringing more growth and to expand on the underlying theme of TRUST.
How we organize the day
Our days always start with the children welcoming each other upon arrival and inviting each other to engage in play activities. This is a time for them to warm their brains up and become comfortable in the space before taking on the day. We follow this with a yoga routine that engages their bodies to stretch and wake up. We enjoy mediation, sharing our feelings, a yoga story or listening game after we warm up and then close with a special song. Taking this moment allows us to slow our bodies and brains down before engaging in a story and an exploration of the day.
By the time our mindfulness time is complete the children are ready for their “second breakfast”. Originally I wanted to incorporate a snack table for when children were hungry, so they could continue to develop the habit of listening to their body when they were hungry. I soon realized that they naturally all wanted to snack around 9:20 am and this soon became one of our daily routines and comforts for the group. This time for them is one of togetherness and joy. They share stories and memories with each other and enjoy being read to as well. I found myself letting go of what I thought snack time would look like, to trusting the children to help guide what it looks like. TRUST.
Letting go of Fear and Welcoming TRUST
Our morning explorations vary depending on the mood, weather, and feel of the day. Sometimes we offer invitations that are literacy based, sometimes we explore the natural surroundings we are blessed with and sometimes we plan experiments. It took me until November to really discover the groove of the group. I found myself fearful and doubting a process I have studied for the last 3 years, but soon realized that TRUST was all I needed. When I experienced fear and doubt I had to remind myself to trust my purpose and how I was helping the children unfold at their own pace, instead of having expectations or standards that they needed to reach. Letting go of old habits and trusting in my expertise as well as trusting the children’s unfoldment, has allowed me to truly experience the joy and wonder that our children experience when exploring new ideas and concepts.
It wasn’t easy to shed the fears that linger from the previous life I have experienced as a teacher. Nor do I think I have shed them all quite yet, but I definitely feel a difference in how I respond to each child’s learning and discovery. I choose to see the children as curious, unfolding beings who are constantly making sense of their world in different ways. This view allows me to see through their eyes and remember that they are experiencing so many wonderful ways of exploring the world and TRUSTING that it is all at the perfect pace for each child.
One experience I hadn’t planned for was saying goodbye to two students this Fall. For different reasons they felt that the program was not a good fit for their family and child and decided to choose other options. When they first told me they wouldn’t be staying I was shocked and sad and asked myself what I was doing or not doing that made them feel they needed to leave. I am lucky enough to have had the support of a community and board to remind me that it wasn’t personal. I had to remind myself that their leaving was not personal to what I did or didn’t do, but instead all part of TRUSTING the process of this newly found school and community. I quickly bounced back and reflected on all of the great things we were exploring in this community and put my energy into watching the children thrive in their own element.
The Joy and MAGIC of Play
As the Fall evolved into winter there was a magic that took over the children. The first snow fall was sticky and so exciting for our young learners. They got wet and muddy and learned quickly what kind of clothes needed to be warn at school to stay dry. We created snow people and a large snow house where hot lunch was served up at the snow kitchen table. We enjoyed French fries and chicken fingers as well as vegetables and fruit. When we weren’t eating lunch we enjoyed a soak in the hot tub and had a great discussion about the different states of matter. Wondering what would happen to snow if it fell into the tub and what we call the smoke that rises above the hot water. Later in the season as it got colder the learners decided to open up a crystal shop and collect as many crystals (ice blocks) as possible. They worked together to dig for them and test blocks of snow on the wall to see if they were actually ice. They used the sleds we had to haul them to the shop where they were unloaded and sorted into small, medium and large. The greatest part about this crystal shop is that it runs on a trade/barter system. You can buy the crystals if you provide another crystal in exchange. I wish our real stores worked like this!
Sharing with Community
As we approached the holidays our group of learners decided to plan a Celebration of Learning Party. This was our way of sharing with family and friends what we had been learning that couldn’t be seen on paper or in a picture. The children baked some goodies, sang Jingle Bells (with Reindeer hats) and O’Canada (because we do it everyday!), performed our daily yoga routine incorporating Old MacDonald had a Farm, demonstrated a movement routine to music and showed the audience how to play Puncinella (a traditional folk song game). The Celebration was just that. The kids had so much fun and the guests did too. It was a great way to celebrate the learning we do with everyone we care about. Another celebration we experienced was that of our community holiday party. One of our families was kind enough to open up their house to us and everyone had a fantastic time. The children played while the adults chatted and got to know each other better. It was such a nice way to get to know each other outside of school hours. The children even partook in a gift exchange. The game we chose to play was a little lengthy, but overall it was nice to have the parents supporting their children in choosing a gift from the pile and then potentially having it taken away. At the end of it everyone received a gift.
During the last 2 weeks of school we decided to explore holiday celebrations and learned about Christmas, Hannukkah and Kwanzaa. The learners were excited about the upcoming holiday and it allowed them to understand that there are many ways people celebrate at this time of year. We were able to share the traditions and celebrations we each take part in and it elicited conversations between parents and their children as well.
I am excited to see how the next 4 ½ months unfold and the adventures the spring holds for us!
To keep learning about our learning check back for our next blog post!