Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

Educating Preschool students from the "Inside Out"
Showing posts with label Joy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joy. Show all posts

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tree and leaves in the autumn


Leaves in the autumn came tumbling down,
Scarlet and yellow, russet and brown,
Leaves in the garden were swept in a heap
To jump up and down in,
with our two tiny feet.

Red leaves and yellow leaves,
Orange leaves and brown.
Leaves are everywhere,
Happily dancing down. 


I believe every school classroom all over the northern hemisphere is celebrating the seasonal changes now as we celebrate autumn. Our classroom at the Living Wisdom School of Seattle, is no exception. Our focus this month have been the beauty of trees. I like to build on the spiritual experiences for young children through the study of our earth's natural rhythms. 



What do the trees teach us?
  Just to name a few qualities that I focus on: inner power, strength, calmness, beauty. and stability. Tree medicine comes through many experiences in the classroom.  We can share a powerful story from nature, a song, interwoven bark textures, and though a multitude of visual art creations.    
I love the fall and all the many ways it can open the heart in nature.
 As we all know the projects are endless. 



Our class plays daily in our natural playground filled with Cedar, Douglas Fir, Maple, Alder and Hemlock trees. Is is a joyous sight to behold.  The children and I love to bath in this carefree childlike setting, filled with make believe bears, gnomes and fairies. The children are transported to a magical wonderland of their make believe worlds and story telling. 





We end each morning with a gathering together at the base of our trees. Here, we do an exercise called: "Reciprocal Breathing". We offer thanks to our trees at the conclusion of our morning in the playground. 

It is the highlight for many of us. 



May this fall be full of many blessings to your family and loved ones. May we all share in the inner  peace the leaves, and trees bring to us in this autumn season.  





Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Try it you'll like it!" New rhythms for the fall season.



Where has this month of September
actually gone?



The beginning of a new school year is filled with many projects to accomplish and new families to greet. The children need to melt their energies as one and just begin to settle into new classroom  
rhythms. 



Last year about this same time I wrote about the change in our seasons, and rhythms with our families. If you didn't get to read it here is that entry. 


I was writing about my new habit of driving in my car to our school. 
Well this year, I am creating newer habits and have switched my impatient look at the annoying stoplights. 
Silly for me, I have always had some great moments while sitting at a stoplights.  
I have for many years prayed at a stop light for others and blessed them while I am waiting for the lights to turn green. Another more expansive thought is by trying to visualize and imagine, all the many stop lights in the world at different intersections. We are all connected at this exact moment in time, all throughout the world. You can realize the unity of people, cultures, cars and all kinds of emotions happening everywhere. Simple as it seems. Give it a try. It can brighten you day. 
I can get carried away with it and often brings me deep inner laughter and joy. 

But then as the light turns green, I am off to my next thought and moving along my way.

 So now this fall, I am changing my morning habits to embrace new rhythms.  In new ways I am changing small things as I begin each day.  I leave earlier each morning, pack my lunch the night before, prepare my veggies for my juicing the night before ,and my morning yoga/meditations are fully recharged and inspiring.  I find myself arriving totally recharged and refreshed. My day just flows beautifully.
 I think the children feel it too. It is glorious. 


 This brings me back to rhythm. What types of new rhythms are we all creating each day? Each moment?
How long does it actually take to create a new rhythm or habit? I am sure the experts have many opinions about this, but in actuality does that really matter?

I have found new habits and rhythms create enthusiasm and honestly that is how I love to start every day. 
With joyful, calm enthusiasm. This also sustains me as my inner reward to keep going everyday. 

One of the new ways of sharing on my blog for the next few months will be more photos of our activities and less writing. 

Another commitments of change this fall, is that I am retaking my Ananda Yoga Teacher Training again after 12 years. This is a thrilling time.   

There is a old saying that goes: "Try it you'll like it." 
Try some new rhythms of change. Let me know what is happening in your lives, and how your family is turning into the greater rhythm of life all around us. 
Namaste. 

Joy to you. 
Chandi

Monday, September 2, 2013

What can a yoga class look like for children and how can it benefit my child?







  What can a yoga class look like for children and how can it benefit my child?

I have been teaching Ananda Yoga to children since 2002, when I received my first training from Ananda Yoga. This was also the first year of the Living Wisdom Preschool which is now the Living Wisdom School of Seattle. Just as the school has evolved with over 50 students my yoga classes have also evolved over the years. I am now teaching 4 classes a week during the school year to about 40 students. The ages I mostly teach are ages 3-8. 


Now often I get many puzzled looks about how I can teach a 3 year old yoga but I have found teaching to the young child can be uplifting, joyful, creative, and entertaining. I believe in teaching children's yoga it is all about moving, centering, listening and creating a deeper state of calmness that a child can tune into on their own. 


So what is Ananda Yoga and how does this differ from other types of yoga techniques?

Many hatha yoga traditions are generally known for toning and stretching the muscles, building strength and flexibility. It also promotes cardiovascular health and emotional well-being and providing stress relief. Yoga also stimulates and invigorates internal organs and thus encouraging the body to heal itself and one that really helps our children is it improves concentrations and focus while increasing mental clarity. 

But Ananda Yoga also provides our children about body control and breath without force, and a gentle ease of,well being connectedness, vitality and inner joy that can help children in their daily routines. Ananda Yoga helps us tune into our bodies opening up the energy channels, that awakens the subtle life force. We learn how to move the energy inward, feel and then move it upward. The children learn the subtle ways to tense, relax, and feel their energy. 
Ananda Yoga also uses subtle affirmations with each asana. The children can memorize these and use them in their daily lives when faced with different circumstances. 

" With calm faith, I open to thy light" 
"Through mightiest storms I stand serene"


A typical yoga class can last for about 40 minutes. I begin with the flow learning. Flowing Learning created by the Sharing Nature Foundation is a simple, and natural framework that can sequence activities and teaches in a systematic way.  "Awakening Enthusiasm" Each class begins with a bell, and I say:



Now in deep faith and gratitude we come to the practice of yoga . 




 We continue with  a song, or a story with our warm up poses. This changes depending on who I may be teaching at any specific time.
After I have matched my energy to all the children, then we begin our day.
These are story cards that we may in . Each child selects a card and we carefully weave our asanas and story through the daily class.
I like to start out with easier asanas first to " Focus Attention".
In Ananda Yoga we do all the starting asanas standing up first. These asanas awaken the body and awaken the energy channels and flow in the body.


I often teach asanas each week the exact same way,and build on their strength and I tune into the asanas that are their favorites. I have found the ages beginning at age 4 the children really need to build core, upper body and upper leg strength. This helps them in all areas of their physical lives. I have found yoga strengthens their bodies to make them stronger runners for soccer, stronger upper body strength for swimming and leg strength for body awareness and control of their upper torso.



The next stage of our yoga class is "Direct Experience." These are the times of deep concentration. This can happen during our "deep relaxation" visualization journey that the children go on, a short meditation we practice together  or  a song that I sing while ringing our ending bell:  "I am rocking until I get real still "segment of our class."This is ultimate climax to the class and the ultimate joy of experiencing the deeper aspects of yoga together.



All of this is done with familiarity from week to week can be  with games, stories, puppets, story cards and songs.
I have many tricks in my magic basket from 12 years of teaching yoga,  that I share. All the  classes build on one and other/ It keeps things actively calm and calmly active.



At the very end of class I offer our" Shared Inspiration" segment of the class. This is when I pull out an muti-faceted glowing egg. We all pass our egg around as we share together the quality of the color that that the egg is releasing for us. As they hold the egg, it turns spiritual colors. The colors represent, love, wisdom, calmness, truth, healing and kindness. They love to hold the egg and share their quality their families after class .
Ananda Yoga allows the children to expand their realities outside of the classroom and share those qualities in other situations and events.


Above all of the techniques and rituals of any yoga class, it is my deepest devotion to share yoga with children. I am humbled and honored.

As we say at the end of our class:
I bow to the soul in you,
I bow to the soul in me
and together we are one.
Namaste


Many Blessings,
Chandi

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Environment is stronger than will. Beauty in the Living Wisdom Classroom.

 The summer is slowly ending, but I can say the life of a teacher is always in clear focus.

 The past three weeks, I have been changing my classroom at the Living Wisdom School and creating my yearly curriculum. There are a few new changes in our environment.  Every item needs to be cleaned, and moved to create an uplifting foundation for the new students that arrive on Wednesday.  Some how it feels like I have been going at "turtle " pace though. I like to spend quality time in my classroom meditating, singing and actually creating some new art. This year some new felt pieces and art will be added into the classroom.

The environment is the third teacher and helps to uplift the spirit of the child. I like to prepare my classroom with soothing harmonious colors, materials and fabrics. This year especially I am focusing on beauty and calmness. Mentally I place each item in a certain location that can uplift and spark inner love, creativity, and beauty for the young child.

 I believe that children don't need a lot of unnecessary materials that clutter their environments and spaces. The materials I use are also natural woods with the elimination of  unnecessary plastic in the space. I also create all my own visuals. I don't buy teacher materials to put up all over the walls. The art on the walls, are there to stimulate children's creativity and instill the qualities that everyone can be an artist. We all have creativity deep within our beings. If I am teaching an aspect I will add my own visuals. These are just my own personal views and are very subtle to the spiritual child.

I begin imagining children playing in a certain location before the first day of school. What area will have the most children playing? What is the flow in the classroom? Are their areas that a child can play alone or with others? Are their areas for drawing, reading, and block play? Are there dark spaces? Is the lighting soft? Is every corner uplifting without clutter? Are the counters clean? Are there plenty of baskets for natural material: rocks, drift wood, and shells? Does the classroom flow with ease? Is there a space for all the materials?

I also place an importance in meeting my students before school starts. I like to bond a little with them and make them at ease with the new transition of entering the Living Wisdom School.



This past week, I added a whole new cooking area for our room and painted this picture that hangs in our reading area.  We are doing more cooking this year, so the children will be practicing along side of me while we prepare: soups, breads, muffins, fresh organic juices, and moon biscuits of course.

In the  pre-kindergarten classroom I use uplifting but soothing colors. The classroom is a nurturing space for a young child. For many children this is one of the first places away from their home. My classroom provides the bridge into a more traditional classroom. I use soft lighting, plants, flowers, crystals, and soothing colors.
This is our angel ring over their heads. 

Our classroom mural of the moon. 




I will end with a thought that a wise man said:

"No matter what work I am called upon to perform, I know there is a way to bring beauty and inspiration into it. May I always be alive to beauty and creative inspiration."

Many Blessings,
Chandi


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mother we thank you!


 Summer's Glow Original Watercolor by Elaine Frenett, Ashland, Oregon
 Today we celebrated our last class for the school year. In the past two weeks we finished up our garden unit and spent some time with creating our habitats for the new caterpillars. 
Divine Mother always has her own timing while working simultaneously collaborating with nature.
We were late in the season to start this project but our caterpillars hatched just in time for our last day of school.
 It was a perfect day, to release our butterflies as our last ceremony of the year. 

We had many fun activities leading up to this moment. 
 Creating three dimensional watercolor paintings 
                                     
 Creating our butterfly habitat in the classroom. 
  
 Sharing Nature with Children:
Duplication Game
The items were shown to the children and then they explored in the forest for the same items to duplicate.
Caterpillar stories, math games, and songs


 Yoga postures and stories about Gerdy and Caty. Gerdy is a goose and Caty was a caterpillar. I created a yoga story that was told all week  in class about how the caterpillar and the goose becoming fast friends. . 
video
                             
    This was a very sweet video that our children were able to watch. They were only three years old when this was taken, so it was exciting for them see how fast they had grown in a year's time. 

But the most exciting was for the children to watch the birth and unfolding of these amazing creatures. We were all in a state of reverence as we carefully set them free today. As Divine Mother's perfect metaphor, it was time to set the butterflies free and for our children to spread their wings and fly too.    

 They were our friends just for a little while,


What glorious smiles on their faces as we shared our last precious moments of our school year together. 

Mother we thank you,
Your joy shines in everything. 
Open these channels so the world once more may sing. 



Saturday, May 25, 2013

Nature's infinite path


I have just returned from a trip to Nevada City, California at Ananda Village. The drive is just about 2 hours outside of Sacramento. Ananda Village is the home to the Expanding Light Yoga and Meditation Retreat. Ananda Village is one of our sister communities from where I live in Lynnwood, Washington. It was the first of the Ananda spiritual communities and was founded in 1968 by Swami Kriyananda. The community is situated on 850 acres of private land including meadows, forest lands,and valleys in the Sierra Mountains. Over 250 adults and children live harmoniously on this land.

I had the extreme fortune to be invited this year, to attend the "Sharing Nature with Children®
New healing activity: Forest Bathing
"Sky and Earth That Touched Me" Joseph Cornell
We spent five days with other participants from various backgrounds that spanned the globe. Many of us came together for the purpose of expanding our consciousness, while sharing our depth of connection in nature. I had to set my camera aside this week and became fully immersed in the vibration of the trees, forests and all life. It was a deeply rich and profound time for me. The pictures in this post are from: Barbara Bingham and Sara M.Skinner Photography. 



The reasons for my attending this training is to expand my work with children globally in the early childhood field, but to also listen to the inner guidance and resonance of my soul.

I love the two fold mirror that our soul reflects while in nature. 
"Silent Sharing Nature Walk"
Sharing Nature with Children®
@Dawn Publications 1998
"Silent Nature Sharing Walk on Lotus Lake"

How we can take nature's serenity inwardly and find it's peace consciously in any given moment but also how can we become a witness to our thoughts as this benign beauty unfolds as a spiritual communion before us? In nature, we feel a spirit of community with all life.

We gain a more positive state of mind as it guides us upward towards a deeper state of inner joy.

 During the workshop we were able to work directly with Joseph Cornell on two consecutive mornings, lunches, and during a celebratory banquet. He is currently writing his next book: "The Sky and Earth that Touched Me" and his "Sharing Nature Wellness Program." These will be published in 2014. We were able to sample the new activities.

Now as they say, after attending a workshop or training; the real work begins. How can I easily and effortlessly apply all that I have absorbed?What is my next step?

I'm convinced that I will be guided spiritually, as nature's path unfolds before me.

My first step on the ridge. 

  " Unendingly magnificent is Nature; yet we view only one of her billions of planets. Her splendor is spread across endless space and manifested on countless worlds;but for us, Her most wondrous gifts remains Her willingness to teach us about ourselves. And when we learn to see and understand ourselves and the world around us, we humans become the pinnacle of Nature's accomplishments; for through man, Nature is able to view and appreciate herself in the fullest, most vividly aware way of all.
      Quote: Sharing Nature with Children®, Joseph Cornell.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Move all ye mountains that stand in my way.


This past spring I have had the joyful opportunity to expand my service with children and explore outings in nature more tangibly. These outings are happening outside of the classroom on weekends.

I was able to organize small groups of children between the ages of four through 10 years of age. I prepared a four hour program designed for using the outdoors as our classroom.  In this process, I was not only the teacher, but the students were instructing me.  In all cases, we all had such a beautiful time together. Each group brought something forward in me, as a nature instructor.


On my last excursion this past weekend, I had a brand new set of students that would be accompanying me on a two and half mile hike. This was not an easy task for this age group. It was a new location for me, and for some of the families.  I had emailed all the parents about the steep paths and warned them to remind the children that we would be climbing a mountain. I was very anxious about what might await us.

From the minute the children met, it was like an instant karmic bonding of old friends reacquainted.

On this trip, I had one older sibling that was just the kindest, loving and spiritual leader in guiding the children's energy. His smile could charm your heart away. He also knew the trail very well, and seemed to guide all of us to the hidden crevices, dips and treasures. The children were actually experiencing "every moment", as we like to call it. I never heard one complaint, or in-deference. They were joyfully skipping and singing songs from our classroom as we hiked together.

We started back up the hill after a quick round of the SuperConscious Living Exercises that I teach in our classroom. A serge of energy ran through our bodies. We climbed up the steep hill with power, energy, and vitality.

When I arrived home from our day together I was in a state or divine gratitude, joy, and inner bliss. It was indeed a humbling experience to be in the company of these great little souls.
These children were the instruments today. What a wonderful reminder for all of us.



In the days that followed this trip I have been watching children's open ended love of nature and outdoor play. It amazes to watch under all circumstances the sheer joy that radiates from their beings.

Recently I just came across an article about some of the benefits of children and nature. Here are some  quotes from that article I would like to pass along:
  • Children with views of and contact with nature score higher on tests of concentration and self-discipline. The greener, the better the scores (Wells 2000, Taylor et al. 2002).
  • Children who play regularly in natural environments show more advanced motor fitness, including coordination, balance and agility, and they are sick less often (Grahn, et al. 1997, Fjortoft & Sageie 2001).
  • When children play in natural environments, their play is more diverse with imaginative and creative play that fosters language and collaborative skills (Moore & Wong 1997, Taylor, et al. 1998, Fjortoft 2000).
But another important factor that most children experience is that God whispers through the trees, through the babbling brooks, and the sounds of the ocean. Through these experiences children tune into their higher spiritual natures. They easily experience the higher cosmic consciousness we all seek.


"Everything in Nature is God's Artwork." Joseph(Bharat) Cornell




I am profoundly grateful in being able to share nature with our children.
May this be one of many more nature programs while climbing mountains together.