Items filtered by date: September 2021
Sunday, 19 September 2021 18:45

Barefoot at School

Many children in the Younger Group forgo footwear during the school day. We have some ground rules - to be barefoot outside, it has to be at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and we wear shoes if we're hiking or otherwise going off school grounds. Other than these circumstances, the children are allowed and encouraged to be barefoot if it is comfortable to them. 

One of the most compelling reasons for this practice is that we encourage the children to take appropriate, manageable risks. The act of taking off protective footwear exposes the children to some elements of risk that are manageable on our playground, and we often see that the reward is worth the risk many times over. Being barefoot can also increase a person's tactile sensory experiences and can add a rich layer of proprioception. 

The teachers also notice that being barefoot is simply more comfortable than restrictive shoes for many of the children. When shoes are necessary, some children may be more comfortable in shoes that have a wide, rounded toe area, are "zero drop", with minimal cushioning and arch support, and flexible soles so that they can continue to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of their feet. 

There may also be some long term health benefits related to being habitually barefoot as discussed in this study from the NCBI/NIH: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5556098/

Cheers to free feet and the opportunity to take manageable risks! 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, 12 September 2021 20:41

Doing our best work - what is good practice?

In the YG, children begin learning how to read, write and do arithmetic in earnest. When we begin this work together, sometimes I notice that the children have started to receive messages about productivity and work from the broader culture that run counter to the goals of learning and joy we have at our unique school. 

With this sort of academic learning, I ask the children to focus on the idea of "doing your best work". When we talked about it last week, the children came up with some excellent criteria to describe what one's best work is. They said that it is done carefully and not rushed, and we also thought that your best work is something you're proud of and that doing it isn't too hard or too easy, but just challenging enough. 

We also thought about what good practice feels like - it feels like you've accomplished something when you're done, and you're focused (not restless).

Learning stays joyful if the goals are centered around doing our best work and getting in some good quality practice. I'm excited to see how the children practice these skills this school year! 

Monday, 06 September 2021 13:45

How We Begin in the Younger Group

Each classroom group at the Antioch School begins the year a little differently. Like everything we do at school, the way we go about things is child centered. In general, the younger the classroom group, the gentler the start to the school year.  In the YG, we begin with half of the group visiting the school for half a school day. After our half day groups have had their turn to visit, we all come together for our first full day of school. 

On our half days, we spend time learning names, thinking about our classroom agreements, and practicing important responsibilities. New YGers learn to hear the difference between the bell that signifies the end of the Older Group's free time and the bell that signifies the end of our free time. Returning YGers help out - "You don't need to go inside yet, that was the OG bell".  The whole group goes on a boundary walk together and we learn how far we are allowed to range at free time. The children talk about why it's important to know the free time boundaries. We practice hand washing to get ready for snack and lunch time, we learn where to find special materials in the classroom, and how we leave school at the end of the day to meet our families for pickup. 

On our first full day together, we finalize our first set of agreements, knowing that we can always add to them if we need to. We learn about the flow of a full day at school, and we prepare to dive into folder work, lessons, jobs, and projects. There's a lot to learn, and the children are so happy to be back at school together. I'm looking forward to a great school year with this Younger Group! 

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