Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Justin's First Day of Children's Farm

We were on a waiting list for a wonderful preschool program in the area (it's only 10 minutes from the house!!!), and were called last week and offered a slot.  So we jumped at the opportunity!  Today was Justin's first day.  Mamas were allowed to come with today, but on Friday he's on his own....
The Children's Farm is a working hobby farm that is also a farm/nature-based preschool.  We spent some time meeting the other families today.  I got to explain my choice to a grandmother who was confused as to why her daughter-in-law chose this preschool (she watches her grandchild during the week, and just gets to drop them off and pick them up here).  This is everything we've been looking for. 
1. The kids WORK.  This is where all of their learning is done.  They are experiencing using their bodies and creating something tangible.  They can see the steer gratefully munching the hay that they loaded into the wheelbarrow, wheeled across the farmyard and climbed up a fence to place in the manger.  They can wash eggs and then enjoy them for a snack.  They toil in the garden (ok, I'm not sure about 'toil', but it sounds great) and then get to actually enjoy the fruits of their labor.  Literally.

2.  Outside time is a priority for this school.  This is SO important for us!  If kids are properly dressed, they should be out in EVERY type of weather.  Their immune systems benefit, their brains benefit, their empathy towards fellow man and beast benefits, their muscles grow from proper use.  Today it was a bit rainy, so we came in all of our rain gear.  Just in case!  The teachers told us that during the coldest days, the children play in the hayloft to keep them out of the wind.  Love it!
3.  These kids aren't coddled.  This is a real farm.  There are sharp, pointy implements, farm animals with teeth, hooves and beaks, horseback rides and a hayloft that one could break bones falling from.  I am so excited for Justin's neurons to grow and connect during each one of those experiences.  He is going to learn more about listening to and trusting his body here than I could ever expect him to learn in a padded gymnasium.

4. Healthy food.  Need I say more?  There is a no sugar, candy, cakes policy.  We have to get approval for birthday treats that we want to bring in.  Coming from Waldorf school, that's not a big change, but from some of the conversations I overheard today, it's a new concept to some families.

I wish I could be there every day to photograph Justin's grand adventures on The Children's Farm.  He is going to be there three afternoons a week, freeing up his sister and I to do some one-on-one work and maybe go on some longer hikes than 3 year old legs can keep up with.  He is very much looking forward to the 'school year', because "I want to feed the steer his hay every day."

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