One Sunflower

supporting the children of our future

on June 19, 2012

Two classrooms in two schools, two teachers, two sets of children and their parents,
all will be leading us in the future. May it be better …

It is almost the last day of school.  I stand outside a bright and sunny classroom in a brick and mortar school.  The daily schedule for this preschool is posted and I glance over it, although I know it well.  The children arrive by bus and go first to breakfast. The rest of their 3 ½ hour day includes circle time, outdoor play, indoor play, closing circle with stories and finally, lunch.  Indoor activities are described as games, puzzles, block play, art and sensory exploration, journal writing. Entering the old wooden school house where my niece attends kindergarten, I am transported back to my childhood.  Here is the “cloak room” I remember – pegs on the wall, cubbies for shoes, and benches under the window sill.The half day schedule is posted on water colored paper beginning with a gathering circle and continuing with workshop time, outdoor play, snack, second workshop, closing circle. Workshop activities are described as cooking, wood play, crafts, and dramatics.
Plastic chairs are gathered around melamine topped tables, a counter top is laden with typical Hispanic entrees in plastic bowls and trays, paper plates and napkins are ready for serving.  A huge bowl of blue Jell-O sits in the middle. Outside the classroom, a cloth topped table under a tree is laden with organic chips and dips, vegetables and fruits displayed in wooden and ceramic serving dishes.  Flowers in a glass carafe stand by a bowl with fabric napkins.
Parents gather in the gym to cheer their children as they run and walk in the annual jog-a-thon fundraiser.  English speaking and Spanish speaking parents stand together, giving encouraging hugs to their students as they round each lap. Children with special needs are accompanied by an aide.When the buzzer sounds ending the run, parents gather to eat lunch in the classroom.I catch wisps of their conversation as I pass among them:  work schedules and play date plans, sources for recipe ingredients. My sister-in-law and I enter the Waldorf classroom through a doorway reminiscent of a fairy cottage.  We sit with other parents, who are cookie-cutter versions of us, in small wooden chairs facing the center of the room.  The children, all Caucasian – English speaking – no special needs, are led in a dance and song performance about Ashputtel, better known as Cinderella.  Each child is wearing a cape and headdress according to their role in the play.  After the performance, parents eat and chat about the newest ice cream store that has opened and the values of vegan and gluten free diets.
After the meal, the teacher thanks the parents for attending and shares the accomplishments of the children over the course of the year.  A round of applause is given to the teacher and everyone makes their way to round up their belongings and head home.
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4 responses to “supporting the children of our future

  1. WOW — so much to think on and wonder about here. Thank you

  2. Love this!! Do I sense sweet, respectful, perhaps “nostalgic” feelings for your niece’s schoolroom? I think there is such beauty in Waldorf environments. I don’t teach in a school like this, but in a public preschool. I try to bring a lot of these softer rituals and traditions into my room. One dear teacher friend shared her idea of “Fabulous Fridays,” where snack was served with tablecloth and fresh flowers – I’m thinking of challenging myself to do this for my ‘inner city’ friends this next year, to slow down and soften their classroom experience. Thank you for this.

    • onesunflower says:

      @Maureen- You are right, I am respectful of the two traditions, environments, styles, audiences – of these two schools. I don’t think I’m nostalgic as much as aware of the subliminal message I sense from the fairy-tale and Hobbit-like atmosphere of the Waldorf school. It is as though childhood is a place not a time frame.
      I, too, try to bring a homey, cozy quality to my classroom in ways that you describe.

  3. As Margie stated, there is so much to think about from your post. I like the way you presented the two columns as being totally separate, ’til the end where they were one-in-the-same.

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