Monthly Archives: June 2015

Rain or Shine

So when the sun had finally started to emerge from behind the clouds in mid May I was ecstatic. I totally enjoyed the warmth of the sun on my face as I worked in the Beechtree sandpit or ate snack. I did not wear a hat as I would normally. Instead I welcomed the sunburn. I dared the sunburn. I willed the sun to stay out longer and longer each day.

I shared my thoughts with the children while we ate snack one day and received a mixed and noncommittal response. But before I could follow up, the conversation had moved on. Later, I asked three children independently which they preferred: sun or rain, and surprisingly three out of the three children responded with the answer “Rain!”

“Why?” I asked, trying to replace my disbelief with curiosity.

Each replied in their own way, “MUD!”

There are two things that I have since gained an appreciation of since: foul weather gear and mud. I’ve been outside in all types of weather, but growing up in Rhode Island, when it rained we stayed indoors. Kids generally stayed indoors and built forts, wrestled, read books, or played games. It didn’t rain too frequently, and if it did we knew enough to avoid it. Here at Beechtree we are outside every day regardless of the weather and it’s cool. Through our bodies we experience the seasons. On a subconscious level we understand the world as it changes each day. We see the insects crawl, we hear the leaves rustle, we feel the sun warm and the rain cool. One day we got hail, sunshine, and rain. None of us minded. My feet were dry and well, I was impervious thanks to my foulies. The dramatic shifts in weather enlivened the moods of children, but more than that, it was the puddles and mud that got everyone overwhelmed with glee. I watched as child after child jumped with both feet and utter abandon into a deep puddle of muddy water. They were sheltered by an evergreen tree from above so while the storm whirled around us, the children were free to splish and splash. I did not try to fit my water resistant but not water proof feet into the splash hole, but I did make a note to buy a pair of Wellies so I could the next time.

About the Author

Hello!

My name is Andrew. I am currently a Teaching Assistant in Beechtree’s Bluebell Kindergarten although last year I was cover assistant in both of the Kindergartens and in the Parent and Child Groups.

You will notice that I write from both an insider and an outsider’s perspective. I did not grow up in the UK nor did I have much exposure to Steiner education prior to university. Instead, I spent my childhood playing in the streets, water, and woods of lil’ Rhode Island, USA. My first flight at age eighteen landed me not at a University’s doorstep but in the mountains of Colorado as an AmeriCorps Volunteer, and after exploring the country’s diverse lifestyles in a Kerouac-flavoured rant for a few years, graduated from College of the Atlantic with a B.A. in Human Ecology focusing on Writing, Education, Latin American Studies, and Art (specifically dark room photography, video, and book illustration). I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras, a Yoga Instructor in Maine, and a Secondary English Literature teacher in Switzerland.

In retrospect, I have always favoured an experiential education.

My wife and I sought out Steiner education because we were looking for an environment, for our then eighteen month old son, which would nurture stability, self confidence, creativity, and play, centring around emotional and physical wellbeing but also including a renaissance man’s liberal palette of intelligences. We also wanted a community that would encourage multiculturalism and nonviolence.

This blog will focus on providing an insider’s perspective on the Kindergarten and Parent and Child environments. I will also include links to related topics, guest authors from time to time, and anything else that might be interesting all in an effort to paint an impression of the Beechtree experience. Together and through my experiences, we’ll get our fingers in the mud, eat the food, and most importantly play, alongside the children.

Questions, comments and concerns can always be directed to enquiries@leeds-steiner.org.uk.

Enjoy.

Andrew