EARLY IN AUGUST, SHEARWATER HOSTED AN EXCHANGE visit of 20 mostly high school students and their teachers from two Chinese schools – the School Attached to Dalian Maritime University and Dalian Ealing International College.
This was a first for Shearwater, and we were very lucky to have the guidance of Katie Grubb from Mandarin Pathways to help us provide a welcoming and memorable experience for our visitors. Students were billeted with families in classes in the upper Primary and High School, and received a warm and generous welcome into their homes.
From the feedback we have received, this visit was one that everyone enjoyed – the Shearwater students, visiting Chinese students and host families.
None of it would have been possible without the goodwill and cooperation of our teachers, the students, the host families, and Sandra Frain, who introduced the students to bread and butter making. Students received a welcome to country performed by Dhinawan, Belle Arnold and former Shearwater student Coedie McCarthy.
We hope to strengthen the ties formed through this first visit, to build a regular exchange program for our students and teachers. If you would like to see some of the activities of the visit, you can view videos produced by Rob Lewellyn of newsoulprojects by clicking on the links below. The password for all films is exchange2016.
Northern NSW/Queensland Meeting Report 19th March 2016
For the large Region that stretches from Coffs Harbour, (Mid north coast NSW) to Armidale (North western NSW) to Cairns (North Queensland), hosted by the Cape Byron Steiner School, Byron Bay NSW.
There were 34 enthusiastic participants, and the day was a wonderful opportunity for meeting to discuss pertinent issues, enjoy an engaging and active workshop presented by Sandra Frain, and to renew our relationships with our colleagues. There were many familiar faces, and some very welcome new faces, representing kindergartens, preschools, playgroups, family day care, parents and students.
We began the day with a meeting for members of the association to hear, discuss, and give feedback to, the proposed changes to the constitution of the Association for Rudolf Steiner Early Childhood Education (AARSECE). These changes have been carefully developed and worked on by the committee (the representatives for each region of the association in Australia) over the last two years.
At the Special General Meeting of the Association, prior to the Annual General meeting held at the Vital Years Conference in Tasmania in July, these changes were voted on and accepted by the members of the Association.
-Marilou Araullo Julie McVeigh
Regional Meeting report by Simon McLean- member of North Coast Region
Dynamism: 1. Great energy, force or power; vigour. 2. Any of various theories or philosophical systems that seek to explain phenomena of nature by the action of force. (Retrieved from Dictionary.com)
Everyone gathered for the main presentation and workshop which was ‘outdoor work and play’ by Sandra Frain. Before the hands-on work we were treated to an inspiring talk by Sandra on the benefits of creating and utilising bio-dynamic composting with children in our outdoor environments. Sandra’s dynamism will have you running back to your gardens and outdoor playgrounds at great speed to eagerly dive head-first into the mud and muck!
The roles played by the four elemental realms of earth, air, water and fire when entering into this partnership with mother nature to create compost were vividly brought to life by Sandra, and this word (and feeling of) dynamism became the central theme of the day. The changing of the season into autumn and the mood of decay experienced through natural cycles seemed the perfect time to be considering the importance of enabling young children to connect with the forces of nature. For children who have not had a lot of opportunity to get their hands into the earth, experience the potent smells of decomposing matter, or witness first-hand, natural processes occurring in the garden, composting is a wonderful way of engaging children with the outdoors.
The all-important nurturing of the senses is so beneficial for young children. There is nothing intellectual about getting dirt under fingernail’s, it is a soul experience that can be nourishing, satisfying and even healing for children (and adults) on a deep level. With these thoughts in mind we enthusiastically made our way to the kindergarten playground where we participated in making two preparations – “physics in a bucket” as described by Sandra.
In one copper pot we stirred horn silica into water (501) for the air, and in the other, horn manure (500) for the earth. After this we began “organising” a large compost pile, alternating wet and dry materials beginning with sticks and branches, then layering decomposing plant and vegetable matter (kindly contributed by the kindergarten families), leaves, a variety of animal manures, lime and plenty of water. The pile was completed by covering the “body” of it with hay, making several deep holes in places which represented various organs and depositing golf-ball sized measures into them of yarrow (502), chamomile (503), nettle (504), oakbark (505), and dandelion (506).
The following week the kindergarten children stirred a valerian (507) preparation in a bucket and added it to the pile. As a parent of a child currently attending the school, to witness approximately 30 colleagues performing this task with such a gesture of love and care was moving in a powerful way that is hard to describe.
The outdoor workshop concluded by everyone taking a cup and choosing either the 500 or 501 liquid preparation to spread about the school’s air, gardens and grounds.
After lunch we gathered again for the final session of the day providing an opportunity to share examples of working outside with children that had made a significant impact. The afternoon surprisingly turned into an impromptu day-spa whereby foot baths and hand massages with essential oils were offered and received willingly by all attending.
I am sure that most would agree that catching up with friends and former colleagues, and the opportunity to meet new like-minded allies at these regional meetings is just as enjoyable and beneficial to our work as the workshops themselves. The regional meetings are vital in the way that they connect us all, sometimes from out-of-the-way-places in our
states, to remind each other that we are not alone in the ways we work with young children. There is much knowledge, experience and wisdom to share, and we always have a wonderful time when we do get together. So, thank you to Sandra and the kindergarten staff from Cape Byron for hosting such an enjoyable, nourishing and inspiring day.
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“The environments for the workshops were made so cozy, so inviting. The workshops were engaging for all. We were Living the pedagogy not just talking about it or being lectured to. Many participants have not heard a story nor seen a puppet show. This would have been new to them. I enjoyed the tactile experiences: the grains, the dough, the wool. I can’t wait to do this with my children at home , with my class. The workshops are counter culture because most teachers and teaching institutions don’t teach this way: actually doing what we would so with the children. It was so refreshing”.
“After the “Joy of Learning and Parenting” experiential workshop, the school teachers were more joyful; they were singing, they made a calm and loving mood for the children and they created some of the activities you taught us like using grains and clay for dry and wet moulding opportunities. The boys especially loved these. The mood in the classrooms was more joyous and calm. The ‘circles’ had more ‘intention’”.
“Parents reported being more attentive to their children ( various ages), following Sandra’s encouragement that parents give their children eye contact when speaking with them, and be genuine in their interest while communicating with their children”.
“A parent who attended both educational evenings spoke of singing to her young children more and noticing an uplifted mood. She said that her children enjoyed the “messy sensorial play activities and that she personally also feels these health benefits. She was delighted to make an impromptu story for introducing a birthday present to her captivated children, along with the song” From you I receive to you I give”.
“Sarah said the most important message for her of “The Joy of Parenting “ evening was for her to be “more intentional “ as a parent. She sees that she is often trying to “get the parenting out of the way so she can get on with what she needs to do”. This evening helped her to see that she could enjoy being with her children more. She can enjoy the process and be less”results” oriented”.
“Ian said he was grateful to have learned so much about so much including child development and ways that he can be with his child. He did not realize there was so much scope in the topic. It gave him a lot to think about”.
“Thank you for such a beautiful heart felt joyous meaningful experience on Saturday.”
“Thank you Sandra for a beautiful day. I felt so uplifted afterwards.”
“Thank you for the real space to be able to feel comfortable enough to release some emotion.”
Stay tuned for more workshops this month across CANADA.