Every year when we open our doors and everything feels new again, all our days are spent looking closely. We observe and reflect on where the children are spending their time, what materials they seem drawn to, who they are playing with, what they are talking about and what they are telling us. It is a totally unique time in the year where the classroom routine and the relationships between us are just beginning to take root. It’s as if the entire school is buzzing with possibility, like big ideas are right on the verge of breaking through and blooming into rich project work.
There are, of course, many children who are still working through feelings of sadness and worry over being separated from their parents. So teachers spend much of the day comforting, acknowledging, and simply being present for those children who don’t feel ready to do anything but miss their family. This is a safe place for them to express their upset and be truly heard with empathy. Our philosophy encompasses a respectful image of children, and we view them as being capable of not only solving problems and using substantial materials, but also handling and learning how to cope with big emotions.
We maintain that this is a place of great joy and learning, but it is also a real place…meaning that it is full of conflicting ideas, sadness, and hardship too. There is a balance that exists however, and from the struggle comes growth, a new understanding or maybe a breakthrough. This is often how new relationships or projects begin. It is a totally unpredictable phenomenon and one of the most exciting things about working alongside young children.
Every thought, every emotion, every encounter, every laugh or quiet observation is like a seed with the potential to grow and cultivate new knowledge.