Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Tomorrow is our first day of school.
The way we organized things this year is that we're having the new children come alone for four days at first, and then be joined by the older ones. I figured this will give us ample time to orient them to the classroom, lunch and snack areas, the outdoors, and most importantly to us (the giants) and each other! By the time the returning children join us (next Wednesday) the new little guys will hopefully already be able to work independently for short periods and understand the basic functioning of the classroom.
The shelves are stripped bare except for a few things in each area:
Practical Life: Opening and closing containers, Opening and closing nuts and bolts, Opening and closing wingnuts, Opening and closing nesting dolls, Large bead stringing, The large snaps frame, The small snaps frame, The velcro frame, Dusting a table, Using a dust pan, Mopping, and an assortment of knobbed puzzles
Sensorial: Wooden blocks, Large lego basket, Small lego basket, Cylinder block 1, Cylinder block 2, Touch board 1, Touch board 2
Language: Blank chalkboard, Sensitizing, Sandpaper Letters
Math: Sandpaper numbers
Art: Crayons, Play Dough
As the days go by, transition materials will disappear, and more practical life materials will make their way onto the shelves. When the returning children join us, I will I add quite a few materials to the shelves for them. By then, with some guideance, the new children will be able to distinguish between works they've been shown and works they have not been presented yet (and may not yet use).
Outside we have nice new buckets and shovels for the sandbox, the chalks and erasers for the large outdoor chalkboards, ye old swings and tire swings, the rope swing, balls, and large building blocks.
The grace and courtesy we'll be working on during these first days will be: How to enter the classroom, How to use the bathroom, How to work at a table, How to work at a rug, How to clean a dry spill, How to clean a wet spill, How to wash hands, How to stand in line (for washing hands occasionally, and for washing dishes after lunch), How to get the teacher's attention, How to walk in the room, How to use a soft voice, How to tuck in a chair, How to brush your teeth, How to have snack, How to sit at the lunch table (to name a lot.)
As the days progress we will add more to this list, and ever repeat the lessons as needed. (Especially as six year old elders begin to slip into the next development plane and conveniently forget them.)
Our focus as adults will be on establishing trust with the new children through conversation, songs, games, lessons and good times. As well as to use analyzed movements and soft language to give a clear impression to them. And to just enjoy all this.
It usually feels like a tidal wave when summer vacation is over and we're on the cusp of starting another year's cycle. Do I remember how to do it? I know that in two days the summer will be like dreams from a distant past. I think about "beginner's mind" and Shunryu Suzuki saying:
“Go, and enjoy your problems.”