Wednesday, March 27, 2013

We Welcome Spring in the Garden

One of the many things I love about the Lake and Park School is the tradition of working together in small mixed-age groups.  Sometimes these groups involve the whole school working on a study as we did this past fall learning about salmon.  At other times a small group may work on a special skill or project, riding bikes, jumping rope or learning to play chess.  A multi-age group provides many rewards including the opportunity to get to know one another in a different setting, make new friends, and learn or try new things in an unself-conscious way. 

This month I was able to work with just such a group as we began the spring clean-up and early planting at our school P-patch in Coleman Park.  As the spring continues different groups will continue the work in the garden and in the summer opportunities for families to keep the garden going will be available.  In addition the P-patch is also a lovely outdoor classroom space that each of the classes will travel to for special lessons and activities, or maybe just a nice place to find a quiet spot to read a book.  Please read on to learn more about what has been happening in the garden this spring.

Planting flower seeds in the hopes of attracting butterflies.
I was in the garden group.  It was really fun.  I liked planting flower seeds.  We planted flowers to attract butterflies.  I already saw two butterflies.  Our neighbor at the p-patch is Harriet.  I like her garden too.  It is pretty.
We had to get the soil ready before we could plant.  We had to spread compost.  It was fun.
Every day we went to the garden in March was sunny.
By Olivia

Adding chips to the paths in the garden.
We came to the garden in March to get it ready for planting.  The first day we weeded the paths and put wood chips down.  We picked up all the tree branches that had fallen during the winter.  Then we weeded the beds.  We started seeing worms and centipedes.  The worms are good for the soil.  We also planted some chives.
Every time we come to the garden we see more insects.  I don’t even know what they are.  I hope to learn what they are.  I really like to plant peas.  It was fun to plant peas.
By Thomas

I like sage.  I like it because it is colorful.  I planted the sage in the herb garden.  I helped bring the wood chips.  We got the beds ready.  Then we planted the vegetables.
By Tate

Stepping stones added to the square garden bed .

Hi, my name is Sadie.  I planted broccoli-kale and if you are wondering I planted about 3 or 4 plants.  I also planted most of the beets in the middle of the newly planted garden.  We put in stepping stones there too.  And we saw two butterflies and Tate found tiny eggs.
By Sadie

Hi, my name is Kaitlin.  I really enjoy coming back to the garden!  We were the first people back to the garden.  No one was here all winter!  Planting was so much fun.  I brought down wood chips in a big wheelbarrow.  I hope to see you at the garden.

The wood chips are hard work.  The wheelbarrows are really heavy when they are full.  The path is on a hill. It takes teamwork to carry the chips.  You get them down the hill, through the tiny path and down another hill.  Then you have to stop the wheelbarrow and then dump.
By Autumn

Why I enjoyed planting the chives was because they are edible grass.  I like planting plants because I want to have my own garden to make my parents happy.  I also like gardening in my duck gloves.  I am excited because the potato I planted last week has green leaves.  I am becoming better friends with Olivia, and now she is becoming an “old” friend.  I loved picking chives for Olivia.
By Jordi

In front of the pea trellis.
How We Built the Bamboo Trellis
By Chloe
I was working in the garden and someone named Jim was working.  So I asked him if I could help him make the pea trellis.  We started to make the pea trellis.  We used bamboo and string.  I never did anything like it before.

Surveying the progress.

This spring we planted peas, chives, radishes, potatoes, rosemary, strawberries, sage, mint, rhubarb, cabbage, kale and more.  I love the garden.  I helped with the wood chips, turning dirt, planting, and I learned the code to the shed.
By Franklin

Friday, March 15, 2013

Thoughts on Admission Season--Implications for Children in Private School Settings

March 2013

I want to reflect on this season that is so very much a reality for children and families of the private school world: Admissions Season.  It takes place right in the heart of the school year and often brings with it a premature sense of the upcoming school year being right around the proverbial corner.   But for every child,  and for every teacher, although January is the month when parents are sending in applications and renewing contracts, the current school year is by no means exhausted.  In fact, it seems that that is the time when everyone is truly  "getting into the groove" of the current year.  Things are in full swing. Holidays are past.  The child knows that the teacher knows her very well;  significant academic growth bursts out in many wonderful ways, all the way from the renewed focus of January to the excitement of upcoming spring break.    Children are at ease with one another.  Relationships grow more solid and new friendships occur.  A hesitant child begins to find a strong voice.  The one who was worried is relaxed.  And in the middle of all this wonderful budding and blooming, relationships between adults and between the children and about the projects and animals and skill sets,  here is that interfering next year's calendar imposing on all of this natural ease and productivity a burden, albeit, a necessary one.

How to make the most of this year to maximize the experience for everyone:

Thus, whether your child is enrolling in Lake and Park for the first time, has been to many schools for admissions visits, is moving out of a beloved familiar place and worried about a new place, or if your child is conscious of friends moving on, or of herself or himself staying behind without the comfort of a good friend, you as parents can help make the situation work for everyone by doing the following:

Wait, if you can, to mention any real upcoming changes unless they are very much in the child's awareness.  A preschooler doesn't have to know now which kindergarten he will attend.  A first grader who has been on school visits is usually happy just to wait to hear when the transition is eminent.

Allow this year to have full play--emphasize the here and now.

Help your child's current teacher keep the class focused on that here and now by not discussing the possibility of friends making changes.

Wait to answer your child's questions about next year until they are asked

Remember:  six months in a four or five or six year old's life is a significant fraction of time.

A great time to think about the next school year is after goodbye's have been said in June, after summer has had a chance to sink in and the child is curious about the next step.  Then it would be time enough to walk by the new building, check out the playground, take a look around.  For those arriving at Lake and Park for the first time,  it is usually perfect just to wait until school begins.  We have a purposeful Slow Start to allow everyone to "get on board";  if you visit a classroom at the tail end of August, you will often find it in disarray, with the teacher preparing for the beginning. Wait to actually enter the room until the teacher has it ready so that he or she is able to properly welcome each child.  And, do not worry about having your child meet children in the new school beforehand.  It is easiest, I have found from many years' experience, to wait for that potluck or picnic or get together until the child has met children in the neutral setting of the shared classroom rather than to try to create a friendship on a play date.  Teachers know how to welcome the child and facilitiate connections.

Please post any thoughts or tips you may have regarding this conversation.