We are so grateful to have found this beautiful expanse of earth to explore. The tall grass and wildflower prairie is surrounded by little forests. Each morning we set off on adventures into the woods, and the discoveries begin immediately. Every sight, sound, smell, and sensation becomes a new experience.
As we take part in each child’s navigation of their world, we marvel at the pure perfection of what the woods offer. Children who have been sad to see their parents leave, quickly become balanced and confident as they jump over branches and crawl under fallen trees. Kids who have difficulty regulating their energy indoors, become focused and contemplative, climbing or gazing up into the leaf covered canopy.
The terrain is rich with possibilities and challenges, winding through the tall grass, building houses with heavy logs, sliding, falling, tripping, jumping, and moving in and out of branches and brambles. We’ve found huge puddles and tiny streams covered in ice. We’ve discovered hanging vines on which to swing and little hills that make us howl and sing.
Each child finds an activity to supply their own needs from the array of choices in this natural playground. As they ride their own emotional waves of complication and success, we see them naturally compelled to care for each other. They hold branches out of the way for friends to weave through. They run back to help a friend get up off the forest floor. They marvel at their own accomplishments and feel genuine concern for other kids who call out for assistance.
Everyone. rhythmically, ebbs and flows with their desires for togetherness and independence. We rarely have to express spatial boundaries for the kids. They naturally stay close, even when exploring alone. As we cultivate a community perspective of collective decision making and valuing each person’s needs and contributions, we hear the children naturally expanding this philosophy out into the larger world. “Maybe we could build a house for someone who doesn’t have anywhere to live?”
We experience very few of the typical conflicts that are normal daily occurrences in preschool. There is an abundance of resources, ample space, plenty of time, the outdoors stimulate emotional balance, and we all feel an easy understanding that everyone can get their needs met if we take a deep breath and work together. For the teachers and the kids, we’re all pretty sure this is the perfect way to spend every day learning!!!!