I originally typed this letter up to share with the families in my play school, but thought that I would post my reflections here as well.
Since you are entrusting me with a piece of your week and your child’s development, I wanted to take a moment to share my heart with you.
My husband and I have talked at length about what we want to do to help our children learn and grow. We keep coming back to the same three words.
Playful. Children learn through play. It’s their most important work. We intend to allow our children time to play throughout their childhood.
Natural. We feel that we are grounded by nature and seasons. Fresh air is good for the soul. Following a child’s natural strengths is one of the greatest gifts we can offer.
Nourishing. Our bodies, souls and minds need consistent and constant nourishing. Our food is eaten with intention around our family table. We believe that literature and family stories should mindfully fill our days.
As a mom, my heart is telling me to lean into the movement of embracing the simplicity of childhood. To us, this means that we are very intentional about what enters our home, including toys and learning resources. We minimize screen time and try to fill our media intake with people that inspire and encourage us. We say no to opportunities and experiences daily in order to keep simplicity in our lives.
This all being said, we do believe in intentionally teaching children. Our daughter’s gift is language. She devours books, is an adventurous talker and is curious about how letters and words work. It’s just her gift. And, as I mentioned, following our childrens’ lead on their natural gifts is one of our home pillars.
But want to hear the truth? I haven’t fully embraced the letter component part of this gift to the capacity that I could yet. I love researching and find learning about learning methodology fascinating. We tend to lean towards Charlotte Mason and Waldorf style with a strong dose of child led learning. Charlotte Mason and Rudolf Steiner felt very strongly about not starting academics and formal learning until the child is at least six. Their reasoning is strong and in general, I think there are many years for teaching more formally as the child’s brain develops and matures. I’ve mulled over this, pondered how these thoughts mix with my formal teacher training, pushed myself to think about my own childhood education and came up with this word.
I am choosing to trust my instincts. While I don’t plan to do any formal schooling for a few more years, we do intend to plan out or days a bit in the fall. We will be using The Peaceful Preschool as a very loose guide to our days. I am so thankful for the community that this curriculum has created as well as the Wild+Free community for their guidance. I will gently introduce the letters of the alphabet, week by week, with weeks crossed out for review and child led interests. We will be picking and choosing what activities we do from this beautiful curriculum, saving the more advanced and formal lessons for the next couple years.
I also trusted my instincts on something else that begins in the fall. I have started Roots+Wings Playschool, a cooperative learning group that is designed for toddler and preschool families. It is organized like a mom and me call and is centered around literacy and sensory rich experiences. My intention is to homeschool our children, but this once a week, plus weekly field trip, is a great balance to this style of educating. It gives us a chance to learn alongside other families and connects us to new experiences.
Not to mention it’s playful, natural and nourishing.
Wherever you are on this parenting journey, I encourage you to trust yourself. Be your child’s roots and wings and lean into the beautiful community of people around you. And since your reading this, please know that I am beyond grateful to have you in my community. Truly, thank you.