For those new to our group this year, each week I will send a reflection email that shares with you the concepts we are exploring, questions that are arising, ongoing projects, field trip ideas, and more. I include photos of the children, and trust that for the sake of privacy and respect for our school community all of these emails and photos are kept within this group. If you have a grandparent or caregiver you would like for me to add to this list, please let me know and I’m happy to connect them.
This week was both a reunion of a group that has been together for anywhere from 1 to 6 years, and the beginning of new friendships with two new students. We are welcoming Eilish and her family to our homeschool this year, and what a beautiful, seamless integration it has been. Her light and joyful spirit, and her enthusiasm to learn and grow alongside this group of children is something we are all fortunate to observe and share.
We are also welcoming Linden, after he has spent the past year with Ariana’s group, and is now moving up to our older group for half of each week this season. What a sweet and loving friend he is becoming to everyone here! The way the children have all opened their arms, both literally and figuratively, to both Linden and Eilish is inspiring. It is clear this is a community they have been building themselves, with their caring and creative souls, and as a result it is one they are proud to open and share with others.
Our days start with morning circle, and this week we reviewed many of our morning circle songs and games. We are always adding to our repertoire, and each child has their favorites - Mirabai requests "pass the squeeze”, Audrey loves the “human knot”, Astrolis and Arlo are very excited about our new bean bag tossing game, while Zelda, Tavi and Georgie like to lead our multiplication table songs. Robin tends to jump into our “Just Round the Kitchen” song, Ayla guides us through “Good Morning Brother Sunshine,” and Francesca, our fluent Spanish speaker, helps us through “Buenas Dias a la Tierra”. Linden and Eilish joined right in this week, and their voices are an incredible addition to this choir.
We visited each of our main learning spaces this week outside of the yurt: the main farm, to harvest pears, dahlias, and to visit our “elements” garden from last year; the laneways where we were sure to harvest autumn olives, check on the sumac (we estimate another week or two before the berries are ready for harvest), and collect mullein leaves and red clover flowers to dry; the stream, with its endless life and changes throughout the seasons; and finally the trees, our maple grove at which each child has developed their own relationship with a tree that serves as a home to them throughout the year.
We began our journal work, which serves as a place to document our days and includes new stories we are sharing together. We are continuing our greek myths, which weave in and out of other tales and legends from around the world, and this week was the story of Icarus and Daedalus. These stories are powerful, and rarely subtle, and bring forth deep messages about relationships and emotions that we all experience in life. Last spring we became quite familiar with the stories of Daedalus, Theseus, Ariadne, King Minos, Medusa, Perseus, Cassiopeia, King Cepheus, and Hermes, among others. We will continue to draw the stories together, and explore the various meanings and feelings they inspire in us. These stories connect to our past studies of the astrological cycles and we will revisit our star gazing this fall and winter after the equinox when our night skies are more accessible.
Our math work this year began with recognizing the different languages of numbers that have been used throughout history. We shared a story of the Roman numerals and then used our popcorn math games to play with these new numbers. I am attaching our math curriculum for fall/winter, which begins to work through area, perimeter, volume and various forms of measurement that the children will use as they build structures. As always, each child is at their own stage, so working together and at different levels and paces is how we accomplish our projects. Please look through the curriculum and let me know if you have any questions or ideas.
This week we spent hours reading in the yurt - with the children asking/begging if they could read at various times throughout the day, during the sprinkling rain or waiting for our math popcorn to be ready. Now that the children are sounding out words, reading proficiently, or reading fluently in chapter books, there is an incredible amount of resources they share as they help each other through sentences, read silently in nooks, or pass on their favorite books to the next child.
We will have literacy support multiple times throughout the week, math support once a week, craft support once a week, and music once a week. This year feels full to the brim with a community of caregivers that are sharing their passions and skills - thank you all so much.
As always each week we bake our bread, explore the stream, care for our animals, and have a sharing circle at the end of the week. There are never enough words to express my gratitude to be alongside this group of children, and share a space that they have created themselves. It is a true honor.
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The Allen Farm program is for children ages six and older. Follow along our learning and exploration in the woods, on the farm, in our yurt, and across our island community, at the upper Woods School.