Hello Dear Community,
The children are all immersed in summer programming, watching the garden create a bountiful harvest, getting their bodies all wet in stupendously fun water play, and taking exciting field trips.
As I was watching the children’s faces as they were singing and watching their teachers sing and dance and play instruments, I felt from them a collective joy in just being here at school. A toddler, who, just minutes before this experience, was missing his mom, became instantly entranced in this musical moment, forgetting about his previous sad feelings. I sensed, looking at him, that he felt a feeling of belonging, such that I have been talking about in previous newsletters.
As we look at the broader picture, it seems that home and school are a young child’s two most important worlds. Children must bridge these two worlds every day. In this previous example, the child was, in his own way, doing this. Every day our children are doing this, making this bridge, finding the transition between these two worlds that could be vastly different, very much the same, or anything in between. Parents often come to me or to the teachers and ask how their day was, how was it after they left. It is important to know how one’s child eases into their day, especially if they had a difficult time leaving you that morning, or maybe you had a difficult time leaving them. The many years I worked at The Harold E. Jones Child Study Center at UC Berkeley, I became quite accustomed to our one-way mirror classrooms, where parents could slip in at any time into the observation gallery, and watch how their child eased through their day. It was a fabulous tool that demonstrated to the parents exactly how their or any child moves from that space of home and school, these two most important worlds in their lives. It also helped the parents build trust in the school, knowing that their child was fine because they could actually see it. Without such empirical knowledge, ie without such mirrors and a classroom set up in this way, it perhaps is more challenging to develop this trust, but it makes for an interesting discussion: what creates this trust? Something to ask yourself as you read this, for we all establish trust in our own ways, and this is no formula for this to occur.
What is important in this discussion is to look at one’s own feelings, which is sometimes hard to do. I have seen many situations where it is perhaps harder for a parent to bridge that gap and to let go of one’s child for the day or in general, and maybe the child was actually quite ready and happy to launch themselves into their classrooms and their world of their beloved teachers and peers. If a child is indeed sad to come to school on a particular day, recognize this too as normal. I have often found that getting oneself to a big event is sometimes more challenging than being at the event itself, and that the anxiety of this gap bridging is the most difficult part. Once a child sees the loving, welcoming arms of Petra, for example, all the previous anxiety gets washed away, as the child breathes deeply and feels loved and welcomed into this inviting classroom community. Trust in anything is that fundamental knowledge that we are going to be OK, that maybe the moment is difficult, but beyond this moment, there is an implicit understanding that equilibrium will be restored and that everything will be fine. Transmitting this knowledge to our children is so important, a life’s lesson that is altogether so valuable.
We hope that all the parents as well always feel welcomed at Peacock. We believe that the most important message all our families can receive when they enter our building and your child’s classroom is that it is also a place for you too. We encourage you to talk often to the teachers, if you do not already do so. We also encourage you to feel free to participate in classroom activities, if you feel comfortable and able to do this. If you have any ideas or suggestions you want to offer, always feel that you can do this at any time. And know that your child is truly loved. I see it every day in every classroom.
So, in our classrooms, what has been happening over the week?
In the Infant Room, here are some of what the babies are discovering with real interest and delight. They are beginning to master the concept of “in” and “out’. They are giving each other toys and taking them away and no one is upset, and they just move onto something else. They are playing under the cribs together, getting stuck under a high chair after they have explored it, and smiling with delight. Outside on their adventures, they have been very quietly watching the ducks by the Waterfront, and they have been screeching with the seagulls and singing to them to their heart’s content. The babies freely smile at all the loving teachers around them, and they all try to express what is wrong: are they tired, hungry, do they need cuddling? They are drinking water from regular cups and they love this. They are sitting at their little table and feeding themselves finger food. Yes, our babies are growing up.
In the Toddler Room, the children have been creating magnificent art all week. They have been dotting their pages, enjoying immensely dot art, a new medium for them. They have been collaging with paper and glue, and they have been creating lovely finger paint murals. For the hot days, they have been making fans that decorate the room when they are not using them. They took a long ride in the big red buggy to the Waterfront, and they had tremendous fun playing in the park. Water play has been a highlight of the week, and with our water table, the children splashed and played and poured and poured and splashed. The week’s highlight was the creation of our new band, with Aga as our orchestrator and pianist.
In the Green Room, art and music have also been highlighted. The children have been decorating their classroom space with recycled art that was carefully painted and hung from the walls. They also talked at length about stars and constellations in the night sky that we often get to see on these balmy, clear summer nights. The children got to create their own stars out of foil and glitter. Then there were the songs about stars… Pizza making from scratch was a highlight in the Green Room this week, an idea that emerged from a circle time discussion about circles and what kinds of circles do we see in our world. Before the children created their pizzas, the teachers discussed with them the process by which they would be making them, what step comes first, and then what comes next. Outside this week, the children took a lovely walk to the beach, where they got to throw stones in the water, watching the concentric circles that emerged, as they talked about water and air and movement, a physics lesson as they had fun throwing stones in the Sound… Back in the classroom, the children have been learning how to serve themselves at meal times, waiting for everyone to be served before beginning to eat, and showing gratitude for the food about to be eaten and to Christine who makes our delicious food each day. The highlight of the week was the visit of Bainbridge Police Officer Carla Sias. She read a book to the children and talked about the importance of having a buddy and being safe. The children were of course excited about seeing her car, watching the lights, listening to the sirens, and sitting in the back of the police car.
In the Blue Room, history has come alive in many different formats. The covered wagons are fabulous; definitely check them out in the pictures below. Their three dimensional creations followed an elaborate discussion about transportation in former times, how people got from one place to another in their migration to the West Coast. Interesting questions were posed and answered related to this migration and to this time in history: Where did the people sleep? What were the dangers and difficulties of these trips? Where did the children go to school? What were the chores the children did? What did the children do for fun? What kinds of games did they play? Shari brought in some examples of foods the people ate then: dried jerky, dried apples, pumpkin seeds. Our blue room trip to the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum again brought alive history of this Island to the children. The docents were fabulous in describing a time in our history before machines and plastic and buildings, a time when the Native Suquamish tribes were the only people here. The children learned about what the land looked like, and what people did. They got to look at baskets that were woven, and to look at types of berries that were eaten. They got to imagine fishing and foraging for their food. The docents taught the children many games that were played by children who used objects in nature—stones, grasses, sticks, letting the children experience joy in playing games just like children did so many years ago. Back in the classroom, alongside the historical wonder the children have been experiencing they have been learning about numbers in terms of maximum and minimum, adapting this concept to everyday events in the room. And a big part of the week was creating elaborate thank you cards for all the people who have shown us so much valuable and interesting information, fire fighters, police officer, museum docents…
My, what a week it has been! Have wonderful weekend, everyone!
with kindest and warmest regards,