Our focus for the week was communication. The story I told was inspired by a desire for the children to understand that the strength of our community at Homestead depends on everyone learning to listen from their heart and speak from their heart. We must practice BIG EARS and BIG VOICES and to TUNE IN WITH ALL OUR SENSES. In the story, it is the smallest animal of the forest meadow community that hears the forest fire first, and must warn all the other animals. Encouraged by Barn Owl, Deer Mouse makes his voice heard and the animals are able to escape to the river. This is the last story for our Animal Behavior block and main lesson books will go home next week. As you look at their drawings and writings at home ask them to retell the stories.
Coinciding with our focus on communication we have had several big teaching moments to hone our communication skills. There were a couple of events that resulted in children being hurt either physically or emotionally or both due to lack of listening, lack of speaking up and sometimes speaking without sensing/thinking. We had our first spontaneous talking stick council as a whole group. Basically we stop whatever activity we are in the midst of (chick and duck enclosure construction this week) and stand in a circle and go around stating how we feel in the moment. Next, we circle around speaking our needs. My experience was that it was a powerful and moving experience for all. Everyone was able to practice listening and speaking up. In other instances I addressed the fact that words can be as hurtful to the heart as any physical blow to the body. I used basic empathy exercises of putting oneself in the others “shoes.” I initiated a reconciliation/healing process with a few children in which we ended by putting our hands together in a pattern, like a strong weave in a basket. I then pull my hand away, illustrating a broken connection, a hurt that goes unresolved, and we acknowledge our community basket is then weak. We will continue this social emotional work. It is, in my mind, the most important work we do together.
In math we are working on basic addition and forming our numbers, the older kids are working on sequences /pattern identification which also requires basic addition ( Eg. 22,26, ?, 34,38 ) .
Biggest news of the week…..chicks and ducklings have an outdoor enclosure to protect them from daytime predation. The Homestead Mama Hens proudly celebrated their babies’ first steps and scratches on mama earth upon completing their project on Thursday afternoon. It was a beautiful big deal!