On Tuesday, I spent the morning at Wellspring being the Parent Helper. It was a joy and a pleasure to see as a co-founder of the school and as a parent the way our values are being put into action. The whole morning was spent experiencing this group of facilitators and children interacting and learning, not only "academic" skills but also real life skills.
I sat in on Circle Time with the nursery and kindergarten kids (ages 3-6) and saw how beautifully and (seemingly) effortlessly the facilitators led the children in learning through play. Anne and Darcy showed the kids how to make letters by moving their bodies to look like the letters - learning through multi-sensory methods. Then they asked the children what letters they'd like to do. After a few suggestions one child said he'd like to do "P" but this time he wanted not to do it by himself but with the whole group. He organized the group, kids and facilitators and me, to stand side by side to create the P. Okay it was backwards but still, I was impressed by his creativity and how well all the kids participated in putting the letter together.
When some kids appeared to be tiring of the activity, one of the facilitators asked for a show of hands of who would like to do more letters and who would not. She had one child hold up her fingers to show who wanted to continue and then another child held up her hands to show who didn't. I not only liked the democratic process demonstrated but also the math skills that the kids were learning unawares as they counted aloud and then demonstrated with the fingers. The no's won the day and they moved on to the next activity.
The rest of the morning was delightful as well as I got to be supervisor in the Art and Writing nook. There the children were working on a project where they drawing on paper cut-out figures three people with whom they (a) got along with all the time; (b) didn't get along with all the time; and/or (c) got along with some of the time and didn't get along with some of the time. I loved seeing the creativity of the kids from the ones who drew elaborate faces and clothing to the ones who just took their blue markers and drew as little as possible. The project wasn't complete in this day and I can't wait to hear what the facilitators do with this. I just think that bringing these little people's awareness that it's alright if we don't get along with everyone and noticing that most people we do get along with some of the time and don't get along with some of the time is a valuable teaching for them.
So I left the space feeling very uplifted that not only what children are learning is so important - life skills as well as pre-math and reading skills - but also how they are learning them - through play and in a multi-sensory, experiential way. I can't wait for my next Parent Helper morning!