Audra writes: What if playgrounds were natural landscapes where children explore their outdoor surroundings and create their own play structures? What if children’s crafts were inspired by nature and made from natural materials? Can you imagine a world where the forest is a child’s classroom? What if a child’s curiosity was fueled by the world around them, unhindered by media and marketing? What would it look like? I am lucky. I don’t have to wonder! My children attend a Waldorf school and the area where I live in Austin has many different childcare and school options. My family is fortunate. Many children in our country do not experience the outdoors daily.
Sandra writes: My room this year is filled to the brim with two-year olds. Over the next year they will be transitioning from diapers to underwear and parents have begun asking about the right time to begin potty-training and how to do it.
Faith Collins wrote: Have you ever wanted to do something special for a festival and then thought, "No, I could never get all of the parents to keep their voices down/sit still/wear appropriate clothing/sing the same song?" See how Susan Siverio helps the parents at Spindlewood Waldorf Kindergarten and LifeWays Center, to prepare for their Advent Spiral in early December. She sets the scene, shares the adult symbolism of the event, and asks that parents allow their children to have their own experiences, without the adult interpretations.
As I wait for my new suite to be completed, I have had the time to think about how well I do with transitions and change. Just when I think the move is imminent and I start to prepare myself for the new rhythm we will have in our new surroundings, a delay occurs that sets back our move-in date. It can be frazzling even for a grown-up. It has also made me examine how I am in supporting the children in my care when there is a change. Songs help transitions -- from washing our hands to getting to the table for meals. A strong daily and weekly rhythm helps too. With the new suite we talk about our future in the room. We've made visits to the room at various points during the construction and we have talked about how some things will remain the same -- yes, we will be taking our toys with us.
Amanda writes: One way that LifeWays is unique is because it has mixed-age groups of children. Many times people have asked me if it is harder to have a variety of different ages in my care, but I always tell them it’s actually easier. Having a mixed-age group allows the children to be in the same suite, with the same children and with the same caregivers, from the time they start to when they go off to “big kid school.” This allows the children to form strong relationships with both the other children and their caregivers.
Lynn Coalson writes: Greetings from sunny Northeast Florida, home to Seaside Playgarden, a LifeWays Representative Program, and the first in Florida. The Seaside Playgarden, located just two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean, is a perfect place for children to explore, grow and create. We focus on the whole child: head, heart and hands and offer 2-, 3-, and 5-day programs for children ages 2-1/2 to 6 years of age, weekly Parent/Child Classes and Playgroup twice a month.
Our programs encompass the nurturing arts, domestic arts, the development of deep relationships, social and emotional development, imagination and creativity, and a life-affirming connection with nature...all through Warmth, Rhythm, and Respect. We are very excited to begin our new Forest Kindergarten program, the first in the Southeast USA!
Jaimmie writes: It is another frigid Wisconsin day here at LifeWays Milwaukee, and we are getting all bundled up to go outside. We begin by making sure everyone has at least two layers on top and bottom. The children go to their drawers to fetch extra pants, socks and sweaters, and we start pulling on all of our layers. I help the youngest children by laying out their snowsuits for them and helping them get their legs into place. I remind them to keep pulling until they see their feet. We go on like this for quite some time, singing a merry tune as we work, “Snowpants, boots, jacket, hat – Mittens are always last.”
--Excerpted from an article by Mary O’Connell, Director of the LifeWays Training in Oregon and Wisconsin, and Founder/Director of LifeWays Early Childhood Program in Milwaukee, WI.
Mary writes: We can’t really determine if any childcare program or school benefits our child until we identify what it is that we want for them. If you ask a parent what his or her long-term goal is for their child, often the parent will say, “I want my child to grow up to be happy.” We all want that for our children, but realistically, we can’t really ensure our children’s happiness. Happiness is a very individual thing… So I challenged myself to identify three goals for our children that are attainable, that will impact their lives in a positive way, and that might actually improve their chances at happiness. Here’s my list:
With an average of ten toddlers from the ages of 18 months to 3 years in an indoor space, there are times during the children’s free play when they need additional quiet rest times, that supplement the traditional afternoon nap. These “rest times” generally do not involve sleep, but allow children who have been hurt, anxious, overtired or overwhelmed to settle back into their bodies and gather themselves. These framed rest times positively affect the quality of the day not only for the individual who receives them, but for the other children and teachers as well. This allows for a more peaceful and fluid day all around.
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