Christine Lipari-Althaus

Christine Lipari-Althaus

Thursday, 22 February 2024 23:56

The Gift of Collaboration: Parent/Teacher Conferences

Every school year we hold three scheduled sessions of Parent/Teacher Conferences. Once in the fall, once in the winter and once again in the spring. These conferences are so valuable to our mission of supporting each child, the entire class, and of course our overall school community. These sets of conferences do not include the impromptu conversations, emails, texts and additional conferences that occur over the weeks between scheduled Parent/Teacher conferences. All of the faculty encourage continued communication since life can speed along for the students and when time-sensitive ideas come up we like to address them when the opportunity arises. 


In a conference, guardians and educators discuss children's growth, consider areas of challenge, and tell some fantastic stories. Parents love to learn more about social dynamics with friends and classmates, or how their child approaches various areas of the school and curriculum. Teachers often ask about ways certain areas of life are supported or experienced at home and share insights of how school days are going in the class.


Through these conversations, we can sometimes learn that one of our collaborators - the child, the parent(s) or the teacher(s) have something to problem solve, or learning and growth to celebrate. When we problem solve we bring conversation to light that sometimes is not inherently comfortable but it is important work, and nothing to feel ashamed about. There are also problem solving opportunities that require more than one conversation and we do not shy away from this continued work either. The trusted adults in the community collaborate and work together to support the children of the school, and each other in their roles. 

We do not spend time discussing report cards, as we do not give report cards or assign letter grades to the children's work. The experience of growth is life! To actively engage in the world/materials/community, to practice, to practice some more - and yes, even fail. "Practice makes progress" is a phrase this teacher has heard (and said!) many, many times over the school days. The art of continuing joyful practice is something we all should strive to master. The continued practice of writing, reading, communicating with others, solving math equations, playing together, giving ourselves grace and supporting the community with kindness- this is what our intentional conversations for Parent/Teacher conferences are about. And the opportunity to collaborate over intentional conversation with teachers and parents is a true gift to the daily work that happens at our school.
Monday, 15 January 2024 00:57

"I'm playing..." a reflection of free time on a sunny day at the Antioch School

A wider observation of a sunny afternoon free time moment:

-Nurseries playing on the swings of the tire swing side of the playground.

-Several Kindergarten children on the merry-go-round and then scurrying in and out of the tunnel.

-A small set of YG and OG students on ripsticks. Others digging in the sand hill or playing in the strawbale house.

The call goes out "Everybody's It! On the golf course!". This is announced to all, anyone who has the golf course in their agreed upon school boundaries could come join the game.

Various Younger Group and Older Group children run around to the field. Smiles are visible.


"Everybody's It" is exactly what it sounds like - everyone can tag everyone else. It is a busy game that includes loads of running, a few close calls of missed tags and the well loved strategy of sometimes tagging your opponent at the same time instead of running away from them. This large group game is so far one of the favorite games of the Younger Group children this school year. 


Whenever the call for this group game rings out, various YG and OG children happily run to join in the game. The game begins and everyone is running and tagging. A teacher has surely stopped by for this is one of the best games to observe. Then there is the inevitable words from a child still near the school but running towards the action, a classmate who was most likely finishing a lesson, cleaning up their snack or finding their jacket... something had delayed this child from starting the game with the rest of the children. The inevitable shout of:


"I'm playing..." or "Can I join..."


The child who is just arriving at the game runs up past the stone wall with a grin that expects nothing else than a group of children that will fully accept them - without hesitation- into this ongoing game of tag. A child with a plan to join in the fun and a group of schoolmates ready to add one more.

In these moments of free time at our school children's autonomy is celebrated. They are able to have direction over their time, they respect the boundaries of the campus, the agreements of the group game and have the opportunity to enjoy this freedom daily. With this structure and the culture of inclusion that is encouraged regularly, the message of "you are welcome here, exactly as you are, you can join us" is presented to them over and over again. And during this particular observation it was stated by the students, in the most universal language of children, the language of play.




Friday, 02 June 2023 14:07

When I hear "YG", I think of....



Free Time


Playing games

Inventing games

Watching birds

Draw, color!

Be weird


Lego building





Making stuff

We made a play.


Sitting on our couch.

Reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory



-Younger Group Children of the 2022-2023 school year on their last week of school

Friday, 07 April 2023 10:16

When the Clean Up is Too Much

This year’s YG students are a group of makers and doers. Paper projects, “stuffie homes” designed from cardboard boxes, block structures in the hallway, intricate displays in the YG Library can all be found in progress on most school days in our classroom. This is in addition to the scissors, glue, pencils, books, math materials and more that we use in our lessons and personal projects throughout the day. 
Around the middle of March the YG children found themselves with a little too much clean up at the end of each day. These particular days would end with slow moving ”jobs time” sessions and voiced requests of “I could use help with my job” around the room. Unfortunately because all the children had plenty to clean up there wasn’t much extra energy to give to the requests of help needed. 
The solution was identified. If we were not able to clean it all up at the end of the day then we needed to have less to clean up. “The blocks are too much. Can we take a day off?” It was discussed and decided. Yes, we would take a few days off from our commitment of tidying up the hallway blocks for the school community. The plan was finalized with the promise that YG would not build on our “days off” and that if Nursery, Kindergarten or Older Group wanted to build in the hallway they would put the blocks away when they were finished. 
The block-cleaning-respite was very appreciated and was also used as a way to get the classroom, hallway hooks and cubbies much cleaner (and easier to keep tidy!). After a full school week of no indoor block building we were ready to discuss the hallway blocks again. 
“I want to build in the blocks.” (A younger YG child initiated this conversation)
“But we are doing such a good job cleaning up, why should we make more to clean up?” (An older YG child)
“I want to build too, but I don’t want to make too much clean up. It is tiring.” (A middle YG child)
“What if we don’t build with too many blocks? Then there’s not so much to put away.” (Younger YG child)
“When I build I like to make big stuff. That takes big blocks.” (A middle YG child)
“Maybe we could build on some days of the week. Like Mondays and Tuesdays. Wait, what is today?” (A middle YG child)
This idea was considered further. The children decided that if we didn’t build each and everyday then we would have the energy to take care of the blocks and our classroom. 
We are currently working with the class plan that YG has the blocks open on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week. This means that when someone has the job of cleaning up the blocks on Monday they will get a “day off” from YG jobs on Tuesday. So far the YG students feel that this plan is working. We have noticed that often when one child has a “day off” they have enough energy to help a friend with their clean up job at the end of the day. 
And at the end of the day, helping a friend clean up a mess feels pretty good. 
Monday, 27 February 2023 11:19

100 Days of School

The 100th day of school! Upon filling in our days of school count the excitement of reaching 100 was a true happiness for all the children in the class. We had a few ideas of how to celebrate this glamorous number.

We wrote numbers up to 100, counted 100 Cheerios as we strung them onto necklaces. We counted 100 giant steps, and passed a ball from classmate to classmate 100 times! Children baked brownies and enjoyed them together after our gym and swim afternoon session “to celebrate so many days of school- 100 is a lot”!

We celebrate the idea of 100! As a group we have…
-come to school for 100 days
-said good morning 100 times
-read over 100 stories 
-held 100 morning meetings as a class
-shared sunny days, rainy days, windy days and snowy days
-told jokes… surely hundreds of those!
-solved puzzles, mazes, math problems and codes
-wrote stories and poems
-played drums, sang songs
-wrote and performed an original Fall play, countless skits and many “stuffie-weddings”
-took hundreds of steps in Glen Helen Nature Preserve 
-embraced hundreds of opportunities to grow
Congratulations to the YG and this exciting day of 100!
Wednesday, 25 January 2023 11:45

Winnie the Pooh Day!

January 18 is a day of celebration each year in the Younger Group! 
Winnie the Pooh Day! Or “Pooh Day” for short.
This year we celebrated our beloved Winnie the Pooh stories and author A. A. Milne (as January 18 is his birthday!) with good literature, “haycorn and hunny” math stories and a “wear your pajamas to school” day!
Moments after our school day began our classroom rug (and our large group gathering space) was transformed into a cozy nest of blankets, sleeping bags and “stuffies”. Children wanted to sit close with friends to relax and talk in the newly created comfy space. Many YGers snuggled down to read or use clipboards to write and draw. 
YGers planned for special snacks and a small group baked braided bread which we served with a squeeze of honey- Pooh Bear approved!
Cozying up for reading The House at Pooh Corner and watching The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh were included in some of our favorite experiences of the day. The end of the day was met with a few "I can't wait until next year's Pooh Day!" 
Until then, silly old bear.
Wednesday, 26 October 2022 00:40

Taking Turns, Giving Space

On a recent walk in the Glen we found a bridge that made our group pause. The bridge was solid and strong, but the railing only stood on one side. 

Teachers demonstrated that the bridge could easily hold an adult with room to walk and not require the second railing. Teachers asked if children felt comfortable with the crossing opportunity. They said that they did. Then children discussed a few ideas of how we could safely cross the bridge. It was decided that we could walk slowly, one person at a time until everyone made it across.


The plan was simple, yet profound: We would take turns and give each other plenty of space. We would go safely at our own pace while mindfully moving and balancing our way across the bridge.


The children did just that. Big smiles and some applause once everyone had crossed. A new obstacle that we overcame with a class plan, patience and plenty of room.



Sunday, 18 September 2022 17:42

Younger Group Highlights

A few highlights from last week...
-we hiked to the rocks on Tuesday, 
-celebrated a classmate's birthday, 
-practiced sewing, 
-built with Legos,
-enjoyed so many beautiful picture books (most of them requested by the students . . .),
-we ate sourdough bread prepared by Elaina (with baking help from some of the OG),
-played "Color Freeze Tag", "Simon Says" and "Heads Up 7 Up" for some of our group games,
-we are on Chapter 7 in the Magic Treehouse book (Dinosaurs Before Dark)
-Children have been invited to read to Mia and Christine to start to get the ball rolling with some of our reading work. Many are feeling comfortable and are beginning to share their knowledge of letter names or letter sounds or writing sentences (for our journal pages) and even personally written stories. 
-Two opportunities for project work have surfaced this week- drumming lessons on Wednesday afternoon
-AND our class received a letter from an elementary class in Iowa! So much excitement over a letter addressed to our class! We have been invited to participate in "The Great Mail Race". The idea is to write letters to one school in each of the 50 states. Our class is excited to make connections, explore the US map and learn about the different locations and elementary students that we are corresponding with. We will continue this pen pal work into the next few weeks of school. 
Tuesday, 01 March 2016 00:00

Younger Group Celebrates 100!

During the month of February the children found that we have enjoyed 100 days of school! This called for a celebration - a celebration of achievement, collaboration, math and the number 100!

Children brought in "100 collections" from home to display for the school community. There were collections of paper clips, beads, legos, stamps, candies, coins, and dice! How fun to see the value 100 represented in these small special materials. We counted 100 steps in the hall and marked the distance with a small piece of yellow tape to step back and view the distance we traveled. We played games using our knowledge of place value and racing a number up to 100 as well as many other fun number activities! 

The children told a "100 or more word story" where we took turns telling a few words of the story until the full group told the silly tale. Of course, a special day like this called for "Hundred Cookies" - don't worry, not 100 cookies! We each decorated a personal cookie with the number 100 or by counting 100 sprinkles for a beautiful treat. 

Happy 100 days of school to YG!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016 00:00

YG Moves with Dimi Reber

This winter the Younger Group has been moving their bodies with local dance veteran Dimi Reber! While dancing children notice different ways that their bodies are moving and how that feels. "Straighten your spine, feel it. Now move like you are a snake. How will your spine move if you dance like a snake?" Dimi gives interesting prompts which create opportunities for children to interpret music, give illusions of interesting actions, dance to fill various parts of dancing space or move to create wide open places. We "fly", we find rhythm, we dance with partners and we dance alone. 

Today we danced a "mystery dance". With closed eyes and gentle movements, each child moved and danced to interesting music created with a fog horn, a rain stick and a beaded gourd rattle. The plan was to create a mysterious dance, illustrate a mysterious story with movements. If one dancer should happen to touch a second dancer then they must either slowly dance away from each other or slowly begin to dance together. Children shared their stories and visualizations after we ended the dance and opened our eyes:

"I was stuck in a void."

"I was in the Titanic and went into a trap door. The Titanic was sinking!"

"My dance was in a mysterious place. I didn't know where I was."

"Mine too. I had to keep dancing to find out about the room I was in."

Thank you to Dimi for moving with our class! We look forward to dancing with you again in just two weeks!

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