A Herd of Nurseries

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These Nursery Schoolers seem so very aware of one another. They are also very much drawn to one another and want to gather up and take part in things together. Whatever their fellow Nurseries are doing seems to be the most interesting to them… at least in the moment. It’s difficult to predict this early in the year, but this urge to herd up really does seem to be pretty central to them as individuals and certainly it will be great foundation for their group building this year.

At its core, the Nursery is a social laboratory. In many ways, the Nurseries create their own social laboratory each year out of their own particular personalities, temperaments and individual needs and interests. Of course this is true for all the groups… all of the students are adding layer after layer to their own social understandings of others and of themselves. They are all gaining in their own social experience and practice.

As a species we humans… infants, children, adolescents, adults… are highly social animals. We have large brains that in part evolved as a match to the neural processing demands of this complex social work. Our brains require a large portion of our daily energy. Young children’s growth and development is on a fast track in all ways! Recent research into human metabolism shows that while adults use 20% of daily energy to fuel their brains, for children from the ages of three to seven, 60% of their daily energy is devoted and consumed by their developing brains. If you think about this just a bit, it makes absolute sense, and it is still astonishing!

My point in sharing this is to acknowledge that all children are busy growing and changing and developing in so many ways. They are building whole body systems. They are wiring up… building connections within and expanding connections to what is outside of them. It is something that happens quite naturally while they interact with the people and the worlds around them. And because they are so new to the world, and because the social is so fundamental to human experience, for Nursery aged children, it can be a big part of what they do. They are led to this throughout by the essential nature of human development.

It will be interesting to watch. Several Nurseries have brought previous friendships with them which has been wonderful and may even help speed up everyone’s group building process this year. There will also be plenty of discovery for each of them since, previous friendships or not, everyone will be getting to know one another within the novel context of this year’s Nursery.

These children’s urge to herd up and be together may also fast track some of their social work together. Simply being drawn together and then finding themselves sharing the same close-up space will give them more opportunities and need for picking up the various social tools that can be useful in smoothing the path with one another. Even this first week, people have been coming to Athena or me, and, with encouragement, have already wanted to carry through talking and listening with another if there is a problem.

Even in these first few days I’m already seeing them want to take on this important work. We are off to an amazingly quick start together!


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