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.
"In our modern civilization, where all eyes concentrate on outer, material things, no attention is given to the state of sleep, although man devotes to it one third of his daily life. Never should it be thought that man is inactive while he sleeps. He is inactive only in so far as the outer external world is concerned but as regards to the health of his body, and more especially in the health of his soul and spirit, sleep is all important. True education can provide for a right life of sleep, for whatever activities belong to a man's waking hours are carried over into the conditioned of sleep, and this is especially the case with the child."
Rudolf Steiner, The Modern Art of Education
For young children, it is good to have very clear routines and rituals around sleep. It helps to think about what you are doing for the two hours before sleep, what you will do to prepare them for sleep, and what you will do when they first wake up. I call this "framing" sleep. The routines and rituals provide the frame.
Here is an example of a sleep frame:
An hour or two before nap, the children are outside playing. It is important that they have a full experience of the natural world and can play as freely as possible. When you bring them in, perhaps a special song or game gathers everyone together, and you playfully return inside.
As we respect the importance of rhythm in the life of the young child, creating a rhythm and space for rest time in our busy day at the Seaside Playgarden is critical to good health and well being. I want to share with you what we have done to create a quiet space for this special part of our day. During lunch break, the teachers create a space for rest in the sun room. The furniture is moved into the front room, and light blue curtains are hung in the doorways to define the space and the mood. Light blue soft flannel blankets and pillows are laid out on the circle rug for each child.
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