Items filtered by date: September 2018
Sunday, 30 September 2018 12:50

I need a meeting

     As Kindergarten moves into October, with basic routines under their belts, the children begin to shed their careful niceties and move into real relationship with each other.  This isn't to say they stop being nice to each other, but just that the honeymoon is over, and they become more willing to be real.  The result--which I welcome--is increased conflict, and along with it the opportunity to solve problems, take responsibility, be vulnerable, generous, honest, forgiving, and to strengthen bonds with peers.

     While some current events in the adult world this week were disheartening, the Kindergartners continued to have meetings to talk about how they can share playground equipment, how they want friends to get their attention, and even what is appropriate humor and conversation at the snack/lunch table.  These children are learning boundaries, consent, and respect for themselves and others.  I am so grateful to be on this journey with them.  The world will be better for it.

Saturday, 15 September 2018 19:24

Planning Color Days and Setting Times

Nurseries are already beginning to work together in group planning sessions. This Thursday they dictated a long list of yellow and red foods for our Color Days coming up next week. I took down requests for yellow and red apples, red and yellow peppers, yellow cheese, yellow melon, bananas, pineapple, lemons, corn, strawberries, raspberries and watermelon. I couldn't find one or two things, but I did add in red grapes thinking that they would approve.

They are still enjoying trading knock-knock jokes plus "Why did the…." jokes. They love the hilarious group laughter that follows. Mostly this is at snack and lunch times when we are gathered around the table. They do love it!

We had our first Music time with Dennis Farmer. He led us over to the kindergarten room to gather up with all the Kindergartners… the first time for many of the children to actually see the room. Kindergartners have already begun a Nursery Visit list. Seeing the Kindergarten room may inspire Nurseries to do the same with a Kindergarten Visit list. We shall see…. 

Some Nurseries have stepped into the next level and have begun to set times with each other for turns on the swings and trikes, etc… of course, with me there to help them with the process. They all have had practice setting their group transition times… for going outside and coming back in, or to gather up for a special group meeting…. and I think that their setting their own time taking is a natural extension of this. Setting times with a peer to get a turn or to relinquish a turn can be a little more complicated, personal and difficult though. However, they are beginning to want to take on the challenge of doing it!

When they set times with each other, each person gets to say how many minutes — from one to ten — that they want. We find-the-middle. If they agree on that, I can start timing. But if one or both disagrees, then we restart the process until they can end up with the number of minutes that they both can agree on.

In the midst of all this, I explain, and they come to understand, that the time has to feel fair to both.

At the beginning of the year, each time setting can be a rather lengthy process requiring a lot of support from me. Of course, they are all observing each other doing this and along the way, learning how it works. And, of course, with more and more practice, they become more and more confident. They become more and more independent. My presence is needed less and less. Later in the year, they will simply be coming over to me to announce the minutes they have both agreed on! Over the years, I've found that some Nurseries begin to understand the concept of finding the average as well as the negotiation of what feels fair. There are many years that several children want to add the concept of zero into the process. It's all very rich and also an incredibly useful social tool for them to have.

Sunday, 09 September 2018 20:38

Goofy Jokes and Ants in the Sand

In the Nursery, the first week can be a bit like a tea party while the children get to know one another and the room and routine and boundaries — and of course their teachers. Everyone can be just a little cautious. They are a bit careful to put their best face forward, and are a bit on their toes, while they take in all the amazing detail and nuance of their experience.

Even so, with these people, I can see that they are already feeling comfortable and relaxed. Even if a people are having a difficult time getting over the hump of goodbyes in the morning, they have let me help them with a cuddle or reading them a book… pretty remarkable!

We've had lots and lots of goofy, silly, inventive jokes — especially at lunch time — with laughter to match. There has been a great deal of cooperation and collaboration. Getting things that have dropped for the others. Watching out for people who maybe didn't know how to get down the loft ladder. Helping someone find the scissors. Letting me know if they thought someone needed something. Figuring out how to have one more person be on a trike. That kind of thing.

They love books and story time: Quick as a Cricket, There are No Cats in this Book, Mouse Soup, Frog and Toad, The Pigeon Needs a Bath, Knuffle Bunny, Theodore, A Smudgie Bear…. to name just a few that we've already read.

They've been getting lots of practice with setting times together and using our sand timers, which is our method to decide on when to go outside and to come back in. This will help them gain a foundation of how to reach a compromise for taking turns… with swings and trikes and other equipment or supplies.

I think because so many of these children are already practiced and comfortable with solving problems informally, they haven't needed many meetings as yet. I'm looking forward to when they do so we can practice this very useful process.

Here is a great anecdote from the very first day of our first week. The group was out in the morning on Tire Swing Side. One of the children from last year found a large segment from the trunk of an ash trees that had to be taken down a few years ago. Last year it had ants living in it. This year it wasn't hard wood any more; it was spongy. He began chopping it with a scoop taking off the spongy wood. Eventually he came over pretty excited to tell me that he had found the ants, "Ann, they're still living in the hard wood!"

Of course, the ants were looking pretty frantic running this way and that.

He watched for a while and then this Nurseryer began scooping sand over the ants and their home to replace what he had removed, "That will help them get their roof back."

Two other Nurseries came over attracted by the chopping/scooping activity. Not knowing the back story, what they wanted to do was to remove the sand, and so they did!

The first child returned to with another scoop of sand, watched for a moment and then objected telling them he wanted the sand to stay. They objected telling him they wanted to take the sand off.

I did my sign for "Pause," for everyone and then I asked him, "Are you comfortable when they take the sand off?"

He looked at them and said, "No, I'm not comfortable if you take the sand off.

I said, "Can you tell them why?"

He went into a very clear and succinct history of the ants and their stump.

The two girls listened and then began adding sand instead. The three worked together. One girl found another chunk of ash for the ants if they wanted to enlarge their home, "It's hard wood!" she announced.

She cheerfully got busy finding sticks that would serve as bridges for the ants.

"Ann, they're starting to use the bridges!"

Several more children spontaneously joined in, picking up on the ants' story as they went along.


Sunday, 09 September 2018 12:01

Deciding how to decide

     Kindergarten had some very important decisions to make this week--our first one together as a group.  We have two new guinea pigs, and they needed names.  The children came up with a list of ten or so names--almost the same number as children in the group. 

     "How will we decide?" I asked.

     A small group of children quickly agreed on the name "Fluffy" for the rough-haired sister of the pair and suggested voting.  Another child, singly attached to the name she suggested, shook her head, "I'm not comfortable with that.  That means my name won't be used."  A child who had been in the Kindergarten last year suggested using a counting rhyme, but this was also rejected.

     "We have to compromise," another Kindergartner declared.

     "What does that mean?" I asked.

     "When no one says 'No'", he explained.

     "It sounds like you want consensus," I supplied.

     So over the course of several days and nights to sleep on it, the group continued to talk, shift, and coalesce around agreement on the names.  Eventually, through compromise, they arrived at consensus.  Some Kindergartners thought we needed more pets to name--more guinea pigs or perhaps frogs.  They decided some of the names could be used for our fish.  A Kindergartner pointed out that she has three names, so a guinea pig could also have more than one name.  Here are the names the children bestowed:  rough-haired guinea pig--Fluffy; smooth-haired guinea pig--Becky Toothpick; catfish--Demoned; reddest Mama fish--Lilly; tiny baby fish--Snuggly; other tiny baby fish--Cuddles.

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