Rhythm of the Day
For young children, rhythm, ritual, and repetition are extremely meaningful. The rhythm of our day at school gives the children a sense of security, relaxation and predictability. The schedule of the day is as follows:
8:30-9:00 a.m. Arrival Time
Each child arrives at school in his or her own way. Some enter with gusto, running into the class and quickly engaging in activity, hardly remembering to say good-bye. Others take their time adjusting each day, sitting and visiting while warming up slowly. The morning good-bye is a very valuable time for experiencing transition. We strongly encourage parents to make their morning transitions warm, yet brief. After a kiss and hug good-bye, the children are free to play, read books with a teacher, or engage in different activities until it is time to begin circle.
A note about transitions….
All children at some point feel the discomfort of separating from parents and transitioning into being at school. For some children, this experience comes and goes quickly. For others, it lingers. If your child is having a difficult time saying goodbye, here are a few suggestions: First, prepare your mind so that energetically your child feels your confidence about him or her being at school. If you are feeling hesitant, your child will become hesitant as well. Second, make your morning goodbye quick and clear. The most difficult thing for a child who is having a difficult transition is for parents to lengthen the goodbye in an attempt to make it easier for the child. With transitions, the clearer and more positive and confident we are as parents, the easier it will be for our children. We know this is often easier said than done and teachers are always available to help!
9:00 a.m. Morning Circle
The heart of each day is Morning Circle. It is very important that all children arrive in time to benefit from this time when we come together to welcome the day, to acknowledge each other’s presence, and to connect with what is happening in our world. Circle is a time when the children are lead through a series of songs, verses, movements, and games that weave into a story. At circle, there is a sense of wonder, inspiration, and appreciation that is sparked and that carries the children through their day at school. What happens in circle tends to flavor much of the children’s play, observations, and provides the ground for other class activities. Please make it a priority to arrive in time for circle every day. When children arrive in the middle of circle, it disrupts the entire rhythm, making it nearly impossible to re-group. Sequences, poems, songs, and silence are interrupted and the atmosphere changes dramatically. For children who are the ones interrupting, they distinctly feel the discomfort of this and we notice a significant difference in their sense of connection. For us as teachers, we spend great amounts of time preparing for circle and it is frustrating for us as well. Please make sure your child arrives by 9:00 a.m. If you are going to be late, please call and then wait until 9:45a.m. to arrive. At 9 o’clock, we will put a sign on the gate to let late-arriving families know that circle has already begun. We completely understand that sometimes you are running late in the morning and we really appreciate your understanding about our circle time, which we all hold so dear.
9:30 a.m. Snack
Morning snack consists of simple foods like grains, nuts and seeds and dried fruits and other foods that we may cook or bake in relationship to what we are doing at circle. We try to find a balance between serving a snack the children like, and making sure that they save room for lunch! If individual children have allergies, please let us know and we will be sure to accommodate their dietary needs.
9:45-11:20 a.m. Morning Activities
When children play, they learn about the world. Children’s play is, by far, the most important aspect of their early education. Children learn more through play than through any projects we are able to provide. In play, the children communicate deeply with one another, sharing their thoughts and ideas, sorting out difficulties, experiencing their emotions and the emotions of others. When children are able to sink into their play, uninterrupted, they become exceptionally creative. If we can imagine the times in life when we feel completely relaxed and expansive, when our creativity flows, leaving us with confidence and a feeling of greater meaning and connection to our lives, we can begin to understand the depth and importance of children’s play. Teachers provide support during these times by creating a cheerful and uplifted environment, nice playthings, and an unobtrusive yet warm presence, there to lend a hand if needed, and otherwise content to simply observe. The playthings available to the children are mostly made of natural materials – cotton and silk cloths, building blocks, log pieces, hollow blocks, dolls, stones, pits, and carved wooden figures, to mention a few. These open-ended types of toys encourage children to “create as they go” and to connect to the natural world through their play.
As adults, it is vital that we remember that sometimes we can’t always see the most important things going on in a child’s day at school. Playing is truly the magic of childhood, yet it leaves no trace that can be measured by us. As adults, we are necessarily more outcome oriented, but children are quite the opposite. Although much pleasure and confidence comes from making things, for young children, the real passion and meaning in life comes from play.
Arts and Crafts
We make a distinction between art and crafts. Art is lead and created by the child. Crafts are lead by the teacher and created by the child with the teacher’s help. In the older class, the art shelves are always full of art supplies which the children may help themselves to at any time. In the Cubs, art supplies are offered on a daily basis as well. Arts and crafts relate to the seasons and to what we are doing at circle. Through the course of the year we paint, color, sew, weave, die cloth and wool, sculpt, dip candles, and do many, many other crafts and art activities.
Sensory Play and Handwork
We have many play things which encourage the children to work with their hands. Locks and keys, pouring and scooping materials, beads, marbles and tracks, trains, magnets, puzzles, geo boards, matching games, tweezers, eyedroppers, Froebel’s gifts, hammer boards, and many other materials are available. We tend to rotate materials and offer activities that relate to the other areas of curriculum, as well as those that accommodate each child’s interests and needs. We also sew, weave, tie knots, work with beeswax, and woodwork. Handwork is important in a young children’s development. Several educators have observed that manual dexterity increases mental dexterity. Other benefits of handwork are increased concentration, determination, patience, spatial awareness and self-confidence.
Whether building with blocks, sculpting sand, painting a picture, baking muffins or listening to a story, children naturally connect to their senses as a way of taking in the world around them. The youngest children in the school explore the world very much through their senses of touch and taste. The world is a tactile playground and the children’s connection to these senses allows them to experiment and learn about cause and effect, and about how they stand in relationship to others. Young children are great scientists and seem to have an unquenchable thirst for studying how they can effect their surroundings! As children grow, sensory play becomes combined with imaginative play as well as intellectual discovery. By the time the children are ready to enter elementary school, we want them to feel very comfortable in their senses of hearing and seeing, as most educational environments will expect children to be able to focus on and absorb information through these two primary sense doors.
Sensory exploration is encouraged through specific activities which highlight individual or multiple senses. Children work with their senses of touch, smell, and taste with mud and sand, water and bubbles, play dough and clay, cornstarch, flour and birdseed, smelling and tasting jars, cooking projects, and being outdoors. Attention to the senses of hearing and seeing is encouraged through participation in circle and story rings, rhythm and repetition games, self-expression and language activities, as well as many of the handwork materials and projects mentioned above.
On average, we cook with the children a couple of times each month. Cooking projects offer one of the best scientific exploration opportunities for our class. The children are involved with each step. As you know, the children love to pour, mix, measure, knead, flip, crack, chop, and taste!! If you have favorite recipes, please pass them on to us.
11:20-11:30 a.m. Clean-Up Time
We teach the children to relate thoroughly to the beginning, middle, and end of their activities. This is easier said than done! We always sing as we work and help each other out. We don’t force the children to clean up, but we strongly encourage them to participate, mostly through modeling this habit ourselves. When a child is consistently not relating to the ending of their projects, we use stories, games and group discussions about “wrapping up loose ends” and “relating to the beginning, middle and end” as our main tools for helping the children feel the importance of completing what they start.
The best stories open out some of life’s secrets for the child,
not in any intellectual way, but pictorially in images and symbols.
If you want your children to be brilliant, tell them fairy tales.
If you want them to be even more brilliant, tell them even more fairy tales.
The story ring is a magical time of the day. A candle is lit, a song is sung and we can see the children bring the story to life in their minds. We tell many different kinds of stories- some with morals, some just for fun, some that are highly interactive. Each story is told daily for about a month to give the children the opportunity to absorb the story and make it their own.
The children take turns ringing the gong and leading us in a bow before we sing a song and begin lunch. Lunch is a very social time of the day. If you can imagine having a lunch date with your friends several times a week, you will have a good picture of your child’s lunch time at school! Lots of chattering, conversation, voiced opinions and laughter prevail.
12:30-1:00 p.m. 1⁄2 Day Children Goodbye; Candle Songs and Rest
Story ring provides a smooth transition into candle songs and rest time. The candle songs are sung by the teachers to the children, with each teacher encircling the children with candle light and music. Some children fall asleep and others stay awake while resting. This is a deeply relaxing and nurturing time of the day as well as a time for the children to experience stillness in the midst of a day full of activity.
1:00-2:45 p.m. Indoor & Outdoor Play and Activities
In the afternoon, we play outdoors, continue the morning’s projects and often bring out handwork toys for the children to work with.
2:45 p.m. Closing Circle and Afternoon Snack
We formally end our day by gathering together. Sometimes we sing and sometimes we play a short game. We always end our day by singing:
Thank you for this day,
For rest and work and play. Thank you to every friend, Soon we’ll meet again.
May the long time sun shine upon you, and all around you.
And the pure light within you, shine your way home. Blessings on our day and peace on earth!
Parents are welcome to join us for afternoon snack. Just let us know you will be coming!
3:00-3:15 p.m. Departure Time
The children are free to play until their parent arrives. Then, they gather their things and say good-byes. This is a time for teachers and parents to touch base and for children to be with their parents in their school environment.
3:30 p.m. Departure Complete
By 3:30 p.m., all of the children should be on their way out the gate, with all departure routines completed. Once the children leave, the teachers have time to clean up from the day’s activities, prepare for the next day, and touch base with each other. We depend on your prompt arrival and departure at the end of the day so we can keep the class running smoothly.