YG Newsletter

YG Newsletter (16)

Last week, a couple of Younger Group children came up to me and excitedly reported how we are all just made up of star particles! This cosmically-aware statement struck me. I marveled at their joyful discovery of their place in the greater realm of existence! The children inspire me daily to think about the big picture, even as they are completely absorbed in their child-sized worlds.  People who work with children as teachers, and people who raise them as parents and guardians are so lucky to have their presence in our lives. I love teaching at a school that celebrates childhood every day.

I'd like to pair these thoughts with a passage from one of my favorite writers: 

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Khalil Gibran, The Prophet 

Sunday, 12 January 2020 17:00

Can I visit...

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One of my favorite design features of our school is the long, light-filled hallway that is lined with blocks, cubbies, coat hooks, roller blades, plants... and entrances into every classroom. This design reflects the idea of the linear progression of time. When the children are younger, they are in classes farther down the hallway. As they grow, they move ever closer to the Older Group classroom which is the closest room to the main entrance of the school. When they graduate from the Older Group, they move on to new adventures in new schools, and the way out is right there next to their classroom. Last week at school, the children in the Younger Group expressed an increased interest in trying out a non-linear approach to their time at school. We started talking more about visiting. Visiting is something really special about our school. Children at the Antioch School are not strictly bound to stay in their group. They are allowed to make plans with the teachers to spend time with other groups. Children who are preparing to transition into an older group have the opportunity to spend time with their future peers, and get a preview of their new schedules. They can see the kind of lessons they will have, and the kind of work they will be doing. They get a feel for the new roles and responsibilities they will have. Some children decide to visit younger class groups. They may be curious about their younger peers. Some people visit younger class groups when they are feeling nostalgic, or like they missed out on some important work that could have happened when they were younger. I'm excited to see how the children explore this exciting non-linear approach! They Younger Group follows these guidelines about visiting other groups: 1. Make a plan with Elaina and MJ, and the teacher of the group you're visiting 2. You do whatever activity is happening with the group you're visiting 3. Visits are for one person at a time
Sunday, 10 November 2019 23:51

Hallway Dominoes

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I love that our school allows children to have free time. It's one of the most important parts of the day for them, and so much self-directed learning happens during these intervals. We love free time at school for so many reasons. We believe that play is serious work for children. They are given plenty of time to play how they decide to. Free time helps children develop a sense of self-direction, time budgeting skills, trust in themselves and their peers, and so much more. I love seeing what the children come up with at free time. Some children are busy writing books, while others are creating the millionth version of tag - there's a huge range of possibilities. Last week, many of the children in the Younger Group made an amazing domino chain out of the hallway building blocks. They worked so hard on it - from the design, to the delicate task of placing each block in the perfect spot. It was so satisfying for them as the creators, and for me as their teacher, when they yelled "Three, two, one!". They knocked down that first block and we all watched the chain reaction unfold.  

Sunday, 03 November 2019 18:08

The YG Play

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The YG play was last week. It was quite an experience! The children started working on it at the beginning of October. Little by little, the story started to take shape. We started by making lists of ideas. Big lists! Some of them really started to catch on. 

I sensed we were onto something when the kids created a game at free time based on one of our Halloween play ideas. The Haunted Hospital. This idea really spoke to the whole class. The children began to create characters and imagine scenes that might happen in the play. I transcribed the lines they thought their characters might say, and MJ and I gently guided their discussions on how the drama would play out. Everyone chose their own roles and wove their characters into the story. Not only did the children create the script and their characters, they also made set pieces and props. Two students stepped into the role of stage manager and helped the cast come out on stage at the right times. Everyone contributed to the final product! 

The show was delightful to watch! It totally belonged to them as all their learning at school does. It was a silly, imaginative, nonsensical, short and sweet play, and it was an honor to help them create it. 

 

Sunday, 15 September 2019 18:26

I need a meeting...

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It's easy to get along during the first few days of school. We're all excited to see our old friends and play our favorite games together at free time. I've noticed that the children in YG are starting to move out of the "honeymoon stage" and into some deeper work - the work of conflict resolution. 

Conflict is a natural part of communities that work as closely as the groups at our school. We try not to shy away from it. Working through conflict is one of the most important things the children learn at school. It amazes me to hear the solutions the children come up with because oftentimes, the solutions the children agree on are not solutions I or any other adult would suggest.  They are not strictly bound by codes of justice, utility, egalitarianism or others that would inform conflict resolution in the adult world. The outcomes they value in resolving a conflict are sometimes different than the outcomes a grown-up would prefer.

Allowing these creative solutions to exist is part of a larger guiding principle at school - children are allowed to be themselves. We restrict the amount of top-down judgments and this allows for a flexible, wide path to solve our problems together. 

 

 

Monday, 09 September 2019 00:11

"Playing with Cuisenaire rods is math work?!"

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Most mornings in the YG involve math rotations. We do a combination of work that I choose for the children, and work they choose themselves. One student was surprised that one of their "free math" choices was playing with Cuisenaire rods! Playing with Cuisenaire rods is something the children often want to do at other times when they get to choose their work, like project time or free time.

Lots of children who are YG ages (6-9) are in a concrete stage in their cognitive development. Their work is... playing with concrete objects! While they play with these manipulatives they are making discoveries that lead them forward in their math work, and all the while, it's fun! 

 

The first few days of school were so much fun for the YG! There were games of zombie infection tag, RipStik-ing, make-believe, reconnecting with old friends, and meeting new ones.  The first day we were all together, there was some trouble at morning free time. There was wild trike riding going on. Some of the students voiced their concern to MJ and me. After our regular morning meeting, we talked about how we use the trikes as a group. This was a wonderful segue into creating our YG agreements. 

The agreements are a set of guidelines we make together. They are the foundation of how we go about our day-to-day lives at school. They help everyone feel safe - the agreements outline the boundaries of what feels safe and right, and what does not. 

The children know what feels safe and unsafe, right and wrong, just and unjust. It’s great to be able to give them the space to set those boundaries together. 

 

Here is the first draft of the YG Agreements. It was created by the children in the class and recorded by MJ, me and one of the children who volunteered as a scribe: 

 

  1. We do not hit, punch, tackle, or push each other and we do not step on people’s feet. 
  2. No running in the hallway or in the classroom. 
  3. Don’t be rude. 
  4. Don’t call names or use mean or bad words.
  5. Save big energy for outside. 
  6. Take care of the school, equipment, and supplies. 
  7. No destroying things. 
  8. No taking stuff from other kids. 
  9. Be safe on the tire swing.
  10. Don’t cut through the school for outside games. 

 

On trikes:

  1. We do not stand on trikes. We only push them from behind to get them started, not to go really fast, and we don’t push on the porch. 
  2. People driving trikes should be careful. 
  3. We do not crash the trikes on purpose, but connecting them is ok. 
  4. Stop your trike if you see a person ahead. 
  5. No going really fast by the porch doors. 
  6. We do not crash trikes into RipStiks. 

 

As the year gets going, we may discover that these agreements need to be adjusted, or we may have missed something really important to us. I’d say we’re off to a good start. 

Monday, 25 February 2019 11:58

A Hurricane in Ohio

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A hurricane in Ohio???

Two and a half weeks ago, the great kiddos of the YG had a very rainy walk to and from the Yellow Springs Wellness Center.  We watched the rain all morning from the classroom and decided we could make the beautifully wet walk. One of the children noticed that there was a waterfall coming over the back wall on the tire swing side!  The children happily filled buckets with mud and water and splashed in the huge puddles.

We decided to walk down the bike path and up through Antioch Amphitheater to avoid the ponds of water in the field.  We got there fairly quickly, and as always, the kids enjoyed their time in the gym and in the pool. They are such naturals in the water, and it is so fun to watch them being little fish!:)

 Our clothes and shoes were already wet from the walk there, so we decided to go back through the field on the way home.  After a special snack, we started on the trek back. About halfway through the field, the wind really picked up and rain started to come down hard.  We were walking backwards because the wind and rain were so cold. After we got back, I asked the kids their thoughts about our walk through the big storm.

“It felt like there was a hurricane.”

“The rain felt like pins and needles on my skin”

“It was raining cats and dogs!”

“I felt like I was going to blow over!”

We made it back to school, completely soaked to the bone.  There was not a piece of dry clothing on any of us, but we felt triumphant. We felt like we had made it through the storm together, like a crew of greenhorn sailors at sea.  It was quite the adventure! What curious, resilient, smart children they are. I am so happy to be their teacher, rain or shine...

Thursday, 30 August 2018 17:52

Welcome to the New Year!

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       Hello families and amazing children!  We are off to a great start for the 2018-2019 school year!  The children are full of energy and excitement, and after two days, I can already tell how special and unique the children are.  We will be taking our first hike of the year to Glen Helen, and I am very excited to walk with the children and learn lots of interesting things about the Glen.  We played some getting to know you games, created self-portraits, ate a healthy snack, and took a boundary walk.  I am beyond thrilled to be the new Younger Group teacher.  I will love and honor your children!  Cathleen Tong

Monday, 23 January 2017 23:40

Winni-the-Pooh Party

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A Pooh Party

 

After five months in the Younger Group I have been amazed, not only by how quickly the time has gone by, but also how full each and every day is. I can also not believe how much we manage to pack into our schedule. 

This past Wednesday was the author, A. A. Milne’s birthday. In the Younger Group at the Antioch School, that means it is also POOH DAY. Reading Pooh stories and celebrating Pooh Day is a long honored tradition in the YG stretching back to Bev Price’s time as the YG teacher. Perhaps 30-40 years of pure Pooh pleasure.

This year we had a fun day, filled with pajamas, Pooh related snacks, Pooh stories, Pooh games and a Pooh movie. We had far more activities than time to enjoy them all. 

For some children in the YG it was their first Pooh Day. For others, sadly, their last. But for almost everyone it was a lot of fun. 

I look forward to crashing next year’s Pooh party when I am back as the school’s Art & Science teacher.

 

Brian

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