Fiona Stewart
Email:  fiona@singingstones.org
 

Sarah Foy
Email:  sarah.foy@singingstones.org


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REFLECTIONS

SEPTEMBER 2016


Good morning, dear Earth,
Good morning, dear Sun, Good morning, dear stones, And the flowers, every one,
Good morning, dear creatures, And the birds in the trees, Good morning to you,
And good morning to me.


During these early weeks of the new school year, Rosemary Kindergarten is consciously establishing a harmonious rhythm in its daily and weekly activities. The children have many opportunities for developing large and small motor skills, coordination and movement, and plenty of time for cooperative work and play, songs, stories, conversation, and laughter. Children feel held and nurtured by this unhurried “breathing rhythm” that allows each child ample time and freedom to develop confidence and competence in his/her budding social, physical, and cognitive abilities connected through head, heart, and hands.

In the first few days of school, we began our morning circle by greeting the day and getting to know each other through verse, song and movement. Gradually, as the days went by, we acknowledged the departure of summer and welcomed the arrival of autumn by calling for our ponies, riding to the apple orchard, and gathering the fruits of the harvest.

Galloping, galloping here we go, Off to the orchard, don’t be slow…

In the first full week of school, we also had our first Spanish movement circle. In a fully language-­‐immersive way in which no English is spoken, Señora Damany introduced the children to the coming of autumn. Through Spanish poetry and verse, children put on sweaters and shoes and “go for a walk” as they notice the changing fall colors, see a squirrel and an apple tree, and discover a little worm (“gusano”) living in an apple. It is a lovely way to engage the children in movement and gesture while they effortlessly imbibe a foreign language through their senses.

In our first gardening classes of the year, Rosemary children got a literal taste of the subject as they nibbled leaves from a sugar plant, and as they discovered that there are still a few late summer strawberries to pick and enjoy. Teacher Cari, our gardening teacher, reminds the children to walk gently in the garden like Gentle Toes, the gnome, and only pick as much as one can hold in one’s hand. At the moment, in the garden, the children notice that the sunflowers are attracting a lot of bees eager to gather pollen, and they can walk through the eight foot tall corn rows where they may discover a fairy house or two tucked among the giant stalks. The children already know that if they turn over stumps and large rocks, they’ll find wriggly earthworms and roly poly pill bugs exposed in the moist, cool soil. Our Rosemary children know very well that through the changing seasons and cycles in nature, the garden is a wonderland of nourishment and transformation. We adults (parents and teachers) know that garden-­‐based learning is constant, interactive, and profound.

In the second full week of school, children experienced their first Eurythmy class of the year with Teacher Isabela. Eurythmy is controlled movement that encompasses physical movement and gestures-­‐-­‐from simple hand gestures to whole body movements that “reveal to the eye what language and music bring to the ear.” [John Ralph] At the moment, working within the holding rhythm of the circle, the children move harmoniously with Teacher Isabela in creating colorful moving pictures of a Michaelmas story. “This holistic approach to movement through story nourishes and emphasizes the importance of applied imagination.” [John Ralph]

In our story time this month, the children are hearing the tale of the Brave Knight and the Dragon. They have seen the story enacted with puppets, and during the last week of September, the children will also have the experience of acting out various characters’ roles in the story, as it is told by the teacher.

This month’s Michaelmas/apple orchard harvest theme will culminate jointly for Lavender and Rosemary Kindergarten classes in a little apple-­‐picking and knighting festival, which will take place at a Singing Stones School grandparent’s ranch in Martinez.

Of course, Rosemary parents are also very much a part of the learning that takes place in the class. At the first parent evening of this new school year, parents in attendance agreed that at future kindergarten parent meetings, it will be worthwhile to include readings from Kim John Payne’s book: Simplicity Parenting. This book has a wealth of suggestions for building more rhythm in our daily routines, and puts forth ideas for simplifying our sometimes hectic home lives to benefit both our children and ourselves.

Through a conscious “breathing” rhythm, the daily and weekly activities in Rosemary Kindergarten are designed to engage and nourish the whole child, while minimizing sensory stress and over-­‐stimulation of the nervous system. We teachers are working hard in these first six weeks of school to establish a beautiful rhythm in our room for the benefit of the children in our care.