The Daily Rhythm
“Rhythm and soul warmth are the child’s strongest support in incarnation.” When they know what to expect and depend on, children relax and grow in confidence. In our kindergarten, therefore, we build a strong rhythmic element into our day. The same sequence of events occurs each day – a breathing in and out of activities. We walk out into our neighborhood; come in for our morning circle and snack; breathe out into inside play, activities of the child’s choosing. We breathe into our cleaning chores and the ordering of our classroom; breathe out into active outside play. Then in once more for our story time and picnic lunch and then out into the arms of Mother and Father.
The Weekly Rhythm
Accompanying the Play is the domestic activity of the day. Baking, soup-making, cooking, cleaning, mending, and seasonal activities bring the child into a caring relationship with their world. In the preschool/kindergarten, we are but one step removed from “home” and believe the children need the soul warmth of the domestic to truly thrive.
The Yearly Rhythm
A larger Seasonal thread runs throughout our program with the preparation for and celebration of The Festivals. These celebrations mark our progression through the cycle of the year. Each Season has its mood, which the child energetically mirrors. The busyness of Harvest, the inwardness of Winter, the antsiness of Spring all find their expression through story, song, and meaningful work. In the Fall, the wheat is threshed, winnowed, and ground into flour for the baking of the Harvest Loaf. A golden sword is cut, hammered, and rasped to bring the last rays of the Summer Sun deep into the approaching dark of Winter. Each child makes their own lantern to house a spark of dwindling light. A Festival of the Renewal of the Light is celebrated at the Solstice with our Spiral Garden Ceremony. Winter finds us building fires and dipping candles. We wash, dye, card, and spin a wool fleece into yarn for our finger knitting, felting, and weaving projects. In Spring, we live in the garden: planting, weeding, composting, and investigating all of Mother Earth’s helpers.
Our curriculum at Blue Sky is “play oriented.” We believe Play to be the foundation of creative thinking. All that we offer through storytelling, puppetry, and teacher’s work, feeds and deepens the young child’s fluid forces of Imagination. The simpler the toy or material, the more inwardly active the child needs to be. The children always have plenty of raw materials at hand to construct each day’s constantly transforming drama.
“A child, as well as an adult, needs plenty of what in German is called Spielraum. Now, Spielraum is not primarily “a room to play in.” While the word also means that, its primary meaning is “free scope, plenty of room” – to move not only one’s elbows but also one’s mind, to experiment with things and ‘toy’ with new ideas. Developing a rich inner life is one of the most constructive things a growing child can do.”
Young children have faith and trust in the people near them. For a deep seated inner confidence to grow, it is important that their world in these early years be one of goodness, beauty and truth. The education of the young child at this age is really an education of their developing senses. Here at Blue Sky we put great emphasis on the kindergarten surroundings. Everything in our rosy rooms is made with natural materials and from the handiwork of an Artisan, Parent or Teacher. Seth’s Dad built the cubbies, Leah’s Mom hemmed the aprons, Mindy makes a doll for each child. In this way, a web of warmth and caring is woven about the child.
The young child is in constant movement. This is how they exercise and integrate their tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive systems and orient themselves in space. Later, when the child is presented with more abstract learning, they will be better able to attend and complete their school tasks with ease and satisfaction because their large motor systems have automated and serve as support. In light of the sensory learning integration difficulties assaulting today’s child, a deliberate consciousness of the young child’s movement experience becomes more essential.
At Blue Sky, a daily walk or outside movement journey precedes a morning Circle Time. A playful seasonal compilation of poetry recited with appropriate gestures, rhythmic circle games, finger plays, songs, and expressive dance to piano, flute, or drum all enrich and enliven the young child’s feeling for speech, dance, and music as well as develop a social sensibility.
Handwork and the Education of the Fine Motor Senses
The young child’s domain is more of the Craft than the Arts. And though the usefulness of the end product is important, we are more interested in the experimentation and satisfaction involved in the process. At Blue Sky we honor the many ways of doing things – the spirit of invention always at hand. At this age, they are learning how to learn.
Watercolor paining, sewing, woodwork, pottery, basketry, beeswax modeling, felting, weaving, and nature crafts of all kinds are offered on a daily, weekly, or seasonal basis. All unite the child with their own creative forces.
Storytelling and the Ground of Literacy
Dear story take me by the hand
And lead me to a starry land
Stars sing to me while I’m asleep
Their loving watch forever keep
An yet it happened a long, long time ago
And yet it could have been this very day…
Children deeply experience sunlight and darkness, sparkling frost, flickering fire, and mud puddles. Brother Wind, Mother Earth, Jacky Frost, and Squirrel Nutkin all have something to say to the young child. By acknowledging the “speaking” aspect of our world, we cultivate a certain “listening” in the children – which lays the ground for literacy.
In our Kindergarten, we tell simple fairytales and stories from the animal and elemental worlds. These stories are told, not read, for in this way the teacher can enter into the tale with the children in a deeper, more intimate way. They story, with all its rich imagery and elaborate language, is repeated word for word on several occasions. Then sometimes it is presented as a puppet play or acted out by the class. Storytelling unites the child with his or her own journey, and kindles wisdom, kindness, and courage.
“I sincerely believe that for the child it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil.”
We offer a Parent Evening about once a month. The dates appear on the Calendar. On these nights, we share a little of our kindergarten world: the stories we’re telling, songs, circle times, crafts and anecdotes from the children’s play. We try to offer something artistic. We all need to use our hands creatively. The second part of the evening is devoted to family life, to a sharing and discussion of various child-related challenges. We always have a great time.