Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

Educating Preschool students from the "Inside Out"

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spirit and nature dancing together

My classes celebrated today our Fall Harvest Festival at my home in the Ananda Community. We live on almost 6 acres of land surrounded by many varieties of trees. Today's visit was to help harvest the apple trees. We cooked, sang, marched in a parade, played games and I told stories. Today was a beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest. Divine Mother was shining her sunlight down on us.

We also had a very auspicious event happen. As we were picking our apples off the tree, we looked up and saw a bald eagle was flying over head. It soared above our heads for the whole time while the children were picking apples.

The children drew cards from the recipe. Her card was cutting the butter. The others are showing respect and patience as they wait for their turns.

Team work
Stirring the apples for mini pies

This needs a little more apples on top.

Look how many I found
I can get it

  Our spirits and nature really danced today. What a glorious day we had together dancing in thy light.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Even-minded and ever-cheerful through thy inner light reflected

Even-minded and ever-cheerful through thy inner light reflected!

One of the spiritual qualities that I like to teach children is how to stay even-minded and cheerful through the ups and downs of life.  For some children, this takes deep practice over the course of many years.  For others, it may take only a few weeks.  Either way, it is worth the trouble to guide our children.

 Many years ago, I had a young child in my classroom that often hid under the table, kicked and shoved the tables and chairs that we used to sit on in the classroom.  This little boy was dear to my heart, but since safety was of utmost importance to me, this was not acceptable. I had to really search within myself to figure out what my next step would be.  I needed to suggest to this child that his behavior was unacceptable—not just unpleasant to others, but unsafe as well.  I knew how smart and intuitive this boy was.  I knew that I needed to be decisive and loving at the same time.

I quickly grabbed a mirror and set it under the table.  Oh, my, did he dislike seeing himself reflected back through the mirror!   When he first saw the mirror, he would not look. Then, slowly, he looked at himself and came out of from under the table. As his temper subsided, we were able to talk about what had happened.

Over the years since then, I have used technique this over and over in my beginning classes with children. I often carry a small mirror in my hand to use when children are present. The mirror can reflect to them their deepest thoughts and fears—as well as provide a reminder of joy in many situations.
These pictures were just taken in my class room .

Two children were playing quietly, connecting and building a castle together.  A third child, who was not expressing anything at the time, came over and knocked down their castle to get their attention.  The third child ran off, while the other two were mesmerized, hurt and confused.  It was a perfect teaching moment.  I grabbed the mirrors, bear puppets, and happy faces that I keep handy. We all sat down together and played a game with the puppets, the faces, and the mirrors.  The children acted out something similar to what had just happened.  Using the puppets, the children created a story about two bears eating their berries, and pushing a third bear out of the way.

  This was a perfect teaching moment as I was reflecting to them the actual events that just occurred. We all began talking about how we felt during our morning in class. How did we enter the class today? Who did we play with? Did we use our words carefully and ask others to play? Were we cheerful? Were we upset in our class when others destroyed our game or did we just rebuild it again?
In my classroom at the Living Wisdom School puppets, mirrors, and happy faces are often used to introduce a story, or clarify a rule in the classroom.  This is age appropriate and a clear way of communicating that children can easily understand.  Acting out different situations is a kind of play that helps to ease tension and increase awareness in Kindergarten and Preschool children.

 This evening, I wanted to dive a little deeper in the spiritual qualities of even-mindedness and cheerfulness for this blog entry.  I turned to a book written by one of my favorite authors, J.Donald Walters.

  In Affirmationsfor Self-Healing, I magically without my former knowledge all these years found this affirmation:

I remain untouched by gain or loss. In the calm mirror of my understanding I behold Thy light reflected.

We can guide our children to the inner truth and light that is reflected within them

There they will find true peace and happiness while enabling them to always be even-minded and cheerful. 

Many Blessings, until next week. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Living in harmony with the animals on the earth

The past two weeks our class has easily transitioned to our next unit: "The Animal Kingdom." My Preschool and Kindergarten classes just loves animals. In fact, many young children love animals. This is one of the easiest steps for teaching young children compassion while opening their own hearts to the world all around them. 
The next few blogs will contain the projects that we completed.

To begin the unit I wanted to combine three stories and tell them over and over throughout the next few weeks. I wanted to try some of the techniques from a one of my favorite blogs by: Sally Haughey from: Fairy Dust Teaching. She has written many excellent entries on storytelling.  Specifically here today, the entry on: The power of table top puppets and retelling a story.

I choose the story: The Great Kapock Tree, by Lynne Cherry.  Here is the story read aloud.

The children heard me tell the story with puppets and then we all practiced again and again. For many, this was the first time that they ever had the opportunity to act out or retell a story.  I also want to work with the principals on building strong hands on literacy.

The children acting out different animal parts in the story. These children are listening to sounds on one of our rainforest Cd's and making the sounds of the animals in the story.
 Individually acting out the story

Well, we arent quite yet ready to make a video of our stories, but we have had alot of fun retelling the story in many creative ways.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"The light is inside each one of us”

 Often I am asked by parents, “How can parents tune into the different spiritual qualities of their children? How can I motivate my child spiritually today? What are the best ways to keep my children’s hearts open, loving and expanded as they grow into their adolescent years?
As a mother of three children that are now in their 30’s I must say, I wish I had all the information that is available today for raising holistic spiritual children. Honestly though, the best way to tune into our children’s needs is for us to be centered in ourselves through a meditation practice. This daily practice of stillness can transform anyone’s life and the depth of intuition.

  I was guided to begin a meditation practice during 1980s with a group of women, shortly after my third child was born.  In the strict Christian faith in which I was raised, I was taught to believe that “God,” or the Holy Spirit (which I visualized literally as a “holy ghost”), or any spiritual experience, should be something far outside of myself.  But finally I realized that contacting the Divine was actually a very easy process.  I realized that I had the gifts, and that the light was within me all the time.
My new found mediation practice took many forms.  At first I was guided by visualization, books, crystals, watching and listening to the VHS videos and audiotapes prevalent then. I was like a sponge, trying to put my hands on any practice that would give me inner guidance and answer my questions about my life’s purpose and how to be truly happy.  I became serious about my meditation path and the practice of Kriya Yoga in 1993.

As I was driving my car down a long street on the way to work this morning, I realized that that our life is a long journey, and that the life we share with our children involves nurturing them to tune into the longer rhythms of life. Parenting and teaching are focused on the longer rhythms when we share our spiritual lives with the children that are around us.  We have all been drawn together for a higher purpose.  We may not yet know the reason why we are together, but there is definitely a reason.  I am always telling my students, “You have a great work to do in the world. That is why you have come to our Living Wisdom School.  Your life will make a difference too many in the future.”

Every moment that is shared with our children is priceless, and can help to build the foundation that they need for a lifetime. How many times a day do we have to remind our children to do something?  How many times do we need to re-tell stories about their birth, or a family event that was important to them?  How many times do we have to remind them to brush their teeth, hang out with the right friends, be home on time, write a note to tell you where they are or learn to behave in a restaurant and grocery store?  Sometimes, as a parent and teacher, you just wonder, how will I get through this?  How am I doing?

               1983                                            2008         
 My children

Then, one day, you realize that your time with your children is precious.  It’s like the wind. It permeates the very essence of your being and then, before you realize it, it leaves you—it subsides and vanishes. We can’t hold on to the wind, but we can surround ourselves with the love of our children and students, feeling it in every fiber of our being through the deep love we feel from the spirit of God that enfolds us. All our lives benefit from knowing each soul.
I once received a profound birth announcement from a family that were new parents.  It read,
“May this young child born today be my guiding light and teacher, and may I be still enough to hear the whispers from his soul.”
I can say now, after 35 years, that we as parents can only do our best in any given moment. But the key that I have found as a teacher at the Living Wisdom School and as a grandmother of three is meditation.  As a chant we sometimes sing puts it, meditation has been “the polestar of my life.”  It has given me the guidance, attunement, courage, and deep wisdom to share the ray of the divine light that I have sought and been granted—again, in meditation.

We all can benefit from time spent attending life’s deeper rhythms. Mediation can feed us.  It helps us to become witnesses, holding a calm focus on the deeper intuitive feelings that balance our lives. As a witness to our children, we are able to calmly receive the high truths that will serve their spiritual lives.

“May God’s light expand within you;
May we be one in that light someday.”
--Words from “Go with Love,” by: J. Donald Walters.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Sequel: All the World is my Friend"

Three dimensional shaving cream world painting.

All the world is my friend when I learn how to share my love,
When I stretch out my hands and smile,
Then I live from above.

 These words are from a song;  All the World is my Friend, by: J. Donald Walters, which I shared with you in my blog on September 14th.

 Friendship is such a powerful way to bring a classroom or a school together. We want our children to love and nurture their friendships in the classroom. How often though, do the activities, songs, games and dances infuse this consciousness into their awareness? Practicing friendship is what makes our school so unique and inspiring. We just don't talk about friendship; the children actually live it daily. 

The other day, one of our school’s first grade students came into our preschool classroom, excited about the classroom project that his class was creating. He wanted to share it with the whole school. He wasn't embarrassed, or afraid of being made fun of.   He just wanted to offer the children in our Preschool classroom tours of their "recyclable" clubhouse his classroom was making in our back acreage at the Living Wisdom School. He wasn’t bullied or laughed at for coming into our classroom. He was encouraged by all the students to share his class’s new creation.

The song’s words are stated: then I live from above. “Living from above” is expressed by sharing friendship in accord with the higher truths of our spiritual nature.

At the Living Wisdom school the children are given examples daily about what it is to be a friend. We offer mentorship programs and the teachers offer opportunities that bring out the best in each child. 

My preschool classroom activities also embraced the theme "friendship".  We were making “All the World is my Friend” necklaces.  The children made the clay beads, painted them as worlds, and strung them onto necklaces. Each child was given pictures of their classmates and their teacher to bring home. This project allowed the children and their parents to learn the names of each student. This creates a deep bonding experience for each family.  

Volcano painted by a four year old
Forest made and painted by a three year old.
The children also designed mountains, deserts, and forests made out of natural earth clay. They were dried and then painted.

"Hey, look that's me!"

This little girl is showing her friend how to art cast her earth. These were later painted and used for healing prayers for the earth.
"Please don't worry this will not fall on you. Watch your head! .

The children at Living Wisdom love to go to school, where their inner joy is awakened from their divine  friendships. They soon find that awakening inner joy is where true happiness lies.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Moon light, Moon light guiding our sight

Every month our classroom celebrates the rotation of the moon and we have a "full moon"celebration.

In the Education for Life classroom I want the children to expand their awareness outside themselves.

The best way to start this expansion for the young child is be in spiritual harmony will all of nature. The moon for the young child is magical and mysterious. I have seen over the years and heard from many parents that children have to say goodnight to the moon every night.

I have adapted for Preschool the "moon celebrations" taken from this beautiful book: Kindergarten Education by: Betty Peck.  We have a wonderful time with crafts, snacks, stories, games, costumes, crowns and a musical parade throughout our whole school.

Well its cloudy here in Seattle but I am hoping that you were able to enjoy the moonlit evening with your loved ones through out the world. We all feel so connected on this magical evening.

Until next time......

Many Blessings

Monday, October 10, 2011

Come gather round , its time for a story

Come gather round,
Come gather round.
With a friend on the left and a friend on the right,
Come gather round. 

Its a very special day, come gather round. 
On Monday mornings I have the most amazing schedule that anyone could ask for. In my classroom there are five little preschool girls on Mondays. We have so much fun cooking, exploring nature, gardening, creating beautiful art projects and telling imaginary stories.

Today's story is actually using a new story cards that I recently purchased at Eastwest Bookshop in Seattle.

Have you ever wanted to make up grand stories for children but you didnt know where to begin? I was able to purchase these beautiful cards by John and Catlin Mathews. These cards lead you into the land of make believe, wonder and endless possibilities  They are that gentle nudge or simple way to jump start your imagination for any story-time.

   The cards have beautiful illustrations that lead you to a beginning of your story. As you select the next card, the pictures weave the storyteller through a world of make believe and wonder. You can select one card or as many cards for your story as you like. One tip though, is to know the attention span of your children and how long the story should be to will remain fresh and enchanting. With my class, I wanted to create a direct experience for them and keep the story short for today.

 Our morning began with dressing up like princesses. We took an adventure to the secret garden outside where we would surely might find a faery hiding in our mint. There we picked fresh mint and lavender. We quietly tiptoed back into the classroom to make our "lavender mint tea".  

Washing our leaves
Steeping the Tea
Tea and a story. What could be better than that?

 Each time you open the box of cards there are more inspirational ideas. 
We made up this fairy game today with our story but the ideas are endless. 
These cards are wonderful for all ages.  This might also make a nice story for a birthday party.  Additional imaginary themes, crafts and games could go along with the story.

Until next time...We wish you sweet dreams from this castle over the hill in Ireland. The bunny and fairies will follow you into the garden as they wait patiently for your next cup of tea......

Joyful reading and storytelling.