Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

Educating Preschool students from the "Inside Out"

Friday, August 24, 2012

The well of spirit

There is a saying: "Stop and smell the roses," but sometimes other things are worth stopping for as well. As I was beginning to write this entry this morning, I was mentally uplifted by a small wishing well that sits on the path next to my home that I pass daily.

As a young child growing up in Washington, there was a small wishing well that most of the children in our small town would throw pennies into each week when we went shopping at the neighborhood variety and hardware stores. Stopping at the wishing well made us feel rested, dreaming of the future and refreshed as we watched our nickels and quarters drop to the bottom. Similarly as a teacher I often have to take time out to refill my spirit so I have boundless inspiration for the coming school year. 

 On one of my last posts in June, I wrote that my summer had almost been planned out magically for me. Divine Mother had arranged the summer, and also filled the small crevices with sheer awe and delight. I was able to travel to California and Oregon where I participated in two large events for the Education for Life Foundation. These events were also sprinkled in with my service and love for children, nature, and cooking in the kitchen.

I was honored to deliver a presentation for the Education for Life 40th Anniversary this summer.

On my drive to California I was presented with a task that seemed like I would be climbing a long mountain all summer. We had currently outgrown our space at our current Living Wisdom School location was was challenged to pack up all our belongings and move to a new location. A large surmountable task.

 However ,as I was traveling to the Education for Life celebration and family camp in California  I was presented with a task that seemed very daunting. I felt that if I excepted the task, it would be like climbing a long mountain all summer. We had outgrown our current Living Wisdom location and I was being challenged to pack up all our belongings with all our staff, and move to a new location. My husband and I had moved our home last summer after 17 years and this was going to be a larger, if not insurmountable task, indeed.

As first, I was quickly taken to a lower, fearful space in my mind. "How can I possibly pack up my classroom and still be able to dip into the wishing well of spirit?" I wondered. Fear rushed through my whole being. But then, with a simple turn of my mind, a small voice said inside of me:" Enjoy, each moment as a way of dipping into the well of spirit. Take each moment deeper inward to fill your heart, mind and soul."

 As if on the turn of a dime, a wave of energy filled my being. I could have given in to the frustration, but what I chose to do was refocus my spirit. As I was able to refocus my attention, our car was traveling over the border of Oregon to California. As you drive down the valley it is a breathtaking sight. When you enter California from Oregon the weather immediately switches, and fills you with warm rays of the California sun. The warmth of the sun filled my body to its core reminding me that I could trust Divine Mother to take care of all my needs.

My goal for the summer was not only to let go of anger and fear, but also to let go of wishing and waiting for things to be different. All I had to do was open my arms to each moment and fill my soul with Divine Mother's love deep within my being. I needed to let myself be refilled by that inner well, rather than wishing to control things outside me.

 Even after my realization, I was still challenged with packing up my classroom, but you know when I let go of the resistance and my ego's wishing that things would be a certain way, the moving process took over.  Every box, every rock that a child had given me, every pencil that a child had used in learning how to write, filled me with such loving memories that in the end, the work of moving bathed my soul.

 How did you spend your summer? Were you able to dip into the well of spirit and all the beauty that lies before us?

We all can make our choices in life. This summer has been one of the most beautiful I've ever experienced, filling me with a deeper sense of gratitude in every moment. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cool clouds that gather to bless us

School is out for the summer and I have been planning ahead for the rest of June, July, and August. It feels like the summer is almost automatically planned for many of us before it begins.

This picture above was taken in the local Shoreline Ballinger Way Pea Patch directly behind our school on a cool misty morning.

It reminds me of how children, stay focused quietly in any moment and see all the little things in life. I love how focused on the moment she is. This image will stay with me this summer and give me the space to be present in all my undertakings.

I am heading off to one of our sister schools at Ananda Village in Nevada City, California. This will be the first time that I have had the opportunity to teach at the Family Camp that they hold each summer. I'm looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new families from around the globe.

Until July.

May these next few weeks bring you peace and inner joy as you prepare your summer family activities.  Please comment below and let's share together the wonder of summer and how we can continue to bring spirit into the lives of our children.

Many Blessings,

Monday, June 11, 2012

Flowers so soft and fragile

 This is a very busy week at the Living Wisdom School. We are all finishing up our yearly projects and assignments.
School ends on Wednesday, June 13th. 
This artist told me the smiles in her flowers were their spirits smiling back at her.

My  Preschool class wanted to spend the last couple of days painting. Today the weather was so glorious.  I couldn't resist and set up our art gallery in the Living Wisdom organic garden. We began with a "fairy tale story" then created lovely garden pictures. 

These are our budding Monet apprentices. 

Don't you agree?

We have practiced all year by using contrasting colors in our paintings.

Monet's waterlilies

These were her garden"Iris's"

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Spirit and Nature dancing together

Many of you may or may not know that one of my creative hobbies is birdwatching. I have been exploring the habitats of birds and migration patterns for over 30 years. I find it exhilarating to witness beautiful and incidental sightings of ordinary birds in their own habitat.

 About 12 years ago, I was taking a workshop with naturalist Joseph Cornell, we were learning how to use our voices to call birds in a dynamic way.  I can be honest with you, I have not mastered that skill but I found the joy welling up inside me that I might have the opportunity to be still enough to actually hold a wild bird some day.

Well yesterday was that day.

I always tell my students when we are going outside in nature, it is the animals kingdom " world" that we are entering. We have to be mindful and still to listen while we become aware of everything around us.

The children and I had just finished a beautiful morning circle singing, one of Yogananda's chants,
"I am the Bubble, make me the Sea."
 We all went around the circle, and shared while holding a musical heart.  Each child was invited to acknowledge their own unique expression answering the question, "What makes your heart sing?"

 The children were very still and receptive. But working with young children the energy can change almost at any moment. We had sat long enough listening to a creative storytelling session about nature and the children were clearly ready to explore free play in our playground.

The children had only been out for about a minute, when one of the little girls noticed a baby bird that had fallen on the ground. They ran to get me. They were very scared for him. We had an attack from a large crow about two weeks before, so they were very protective of this little young Chickadee.

I tried to pick up the bird, but he just kept trying to fly very low to the ground. He wasn't hurt but was a little stunned and shaken up. I slowly picked him up and placed him back on a tree limb but he quickly flew to a neighboring fence. There he became trapped.

Meanwhile the mother over head was very loud and had realized the baby was no where in the nest or in sight. I could not see the nest, but she was gathering food, and looking desperately for her.

In the meantime, the small bird lay motionless behind the fence. After about five minutes I came around the corner to retrieve her. She could see that I was not going to hurt her this time. I was able to carefully pick her up in the palm of my hand and speaking gently to her.

We all weren't sure exactly what to do? We have small bird boxes on the fence that were made for the Living Wisdom School, so we opened the top and placed the baby bird gently inside. We left the top partly open so the larger birds could not get inside.

Shortly about 20 minutes later, the little Chickadee jumped out on the top of the birdhouse. Then she jumped to the fence. Her mother then was able to see her and quickly jumped to the next post. The little bird in joy flew to his mother. They both then flew back up where the Mother continued to feed her. It was a rare site to see.

Now the children in our classroom witnessed the whole experience. What joy and relief  it brought for all of us to see that the tiny bird made it back safely to its nest.

 This was a rare drama to witness which could have turned out differently in many ways. We all were thrilled and our spirits were dancing together with nature so harmoniously right outside our classroom window today.

Here is our classroom story we finished writing together. This will be made into a book for the classroom.

Keep you heart still, enter the silence of nature and let me know what you find out there.

Joy to you 


Monday, May 28, 2012

Divine Mother's Everywhere

 At the Living Wisdom School, the Month of May is a tribute to our Mothers.
About 8 years ago I began the tradition in our school of honoring our mothers, as a way of providing a platform for the children to express their love on Mother’s Day. 


Each year the children meticulously draw their moms’ portraits for our

 “Hall of Mothers". 

They also participated in a classroom interview, answering questions such as, “How did God make mothers?”; “If you could change anything about your mom, what would it be?”; and, “What are moms made of?” The questions always draw delightful smiles and insights into the child’s inner life.

Quiet moment reading the interview questions.

 The children in my classroom spend the week preparing the menu for the Mother’s Day Tea, practicing the songs that we will sing during our all-school performance, making delightful gifts, and practicing the art of manners and serving their mothers first at the tea table.

Serving our Mother's
Preparing our salad for the Mother's Day Tea

All the children singing at the Mother's Day Tea

 For the first time this year, we set up a photo booth so that moms could have their photos taken with their children. 

I am hoping that the joy and vibration from our simple event touched all of our divine mothers everywhere. 

Aum, Namaste.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Come Gather Round

Today's story is one that we read during our recent "Frog" theme.

This is a short fable written by Parmahansa Yogananda.
 It is a delightful tale about will power, perseverance and never giving up. 

We acted this story out during class. This is the two frogs in a pale of milk
Pond and Frog Yoga tales

Someone just posted this delightful video on Facebook that I wanted to share with you.  My children in our classroom love telling this story several times in a day.

 This is fun!

Until next time. 
Curl up with a your child and read a good spiritual story with purpose.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

It's Springtime, It's Springtime and Mother Nature sings

We are having a particularly glorious spring this year in the Pacific Northwest.
When the flowers begin to bud and the ground begins to swell with warmth, an inner glow also becomes apparent in all of us. I was raised here in Seattle, and over time the winter months have become longer, with an added gray cloud cover that never seems to clear. But our weather reports this spring are unusual in that they refer to a strange phenomenon called: sun breaks.  So you see, sometimes we just begin to feel the expansion of moving out of our homes and dig our hands in the soil or just listen to the returning sweet song birds in the trees.
I too have been away from my computer and spending more of my time with several large projects that take me outside in the fresh air.

In my Living Wisdom Classroom we have covered several new units this spring and also rekindled our annual events, the Mother’s Day Tea and our Living Wisdom Joyathan.
It would take weeks to describe all our daily activities to you in detail.  That means I will have some nice events to write on this summer, when school is not in session.

(Double click on photo to see all the projects)

But for now, let me say that we began the month with flowers and frogs.

When you first look at this, it might seem like a patented preschool education prescription for teaching--focus on words that begin with “F”--but honestly, this didn’t occur to me at all.  I choose my own curriculum by the energy of the students, looking at what will uplift them, along with the rhythm of what is happening right outside our classroom window. All too often a typical Early Childhood curriculum talks only to the intellect.  It doesn’t take into an account the child’s feeling nature and physical components. Too often we talk, talk, and talk with young children, when what they need are need “direct experiences”.  I have found, by working spiritually with young children that they already know much of what I am trying to teach to them.  I have witnessed that learning is for many an act of remembering.  They already know almost everything you are educating them about. It is a profound truth for me, this an awakening of the young soul. It is an awakening and remembering from the past. I don’t like to purchase online curricula. What I want to share with the children in my classroom are truths that are a part of their everyday world.   Some subjects that will educate children for a lifetime include: how to be a true friend, how to work harmoniously with others, how to show compassion, how to be calm in a hectic world, and how to find true happiness within their own being. These are my goals as an Education for Life Teacher.
I chose to focus on flowers and frogs this month for the expansion that I sensed that these subjects could bring to a child’s soul. So often we see children picking dandelions in the grass and making a bouquet for their mothers, or witness their delight in finding new flowers that they have never seen before in the organic gardens at our Living Wisdom School.

When we studied frogs, we were able to go out and look for them in a nearby stream.  We made frog habitats, drew their life cycles, created three-dimensional models of frogs, painted original stories about frogs, and stimulated learning with acting out stories from the classic, Frog and Toad, tales about true friendship by Arnold Lobel. The time in my classroom is both teacher and child directed. Notice I didn’t mention anything about teaching letters. Children can learn these from their parents or grandparents in a family setting. The classroom activities are rich with play, art and creativity to uplift the child’s soul.
These simple truths open their hearts in love for the experience of harmony and build on the capacity to love that we try to cultivate through-out the year in our classroom. Isn’t this wonderful?  We often forget about the simple experiences of childhood.

Look at this one!

Here are some of the samples of our time together.
A child handing me a flower that they picked for me. 
True friendship holding hands and picking flowers together

I want to end with a thank you to all our children in my classroom this month.  We have had a memorable spring as Mother Nature sang to us through her beauty.