Just giving you a peek of what life has been like at work:
Right before classes started, the teachers had a nice little art workshop together. I took home a few cards from a watercolor exercise and used it to cover my work notebook, where I jot down random things. The school hosts many talks, workshops, even yoga classes, mostly for free. This is something very striking that I found about my new place of work. It's a school that values the personal development (and well-being) of the teachers just as much as it does for the students, and that's saying a lot, because I find that it cares much, much more about the kids than most schools I've come across in my life.
Birthdays are a big thing in Kindergarten. Here is the very first birthday wreath I've ever made, for a four-year-old. I try to pattern them according to the celebrant's age.
|Hi Mom (one hand set-up ftw \m/ i'm holding the ball in my elbow-pit)|
Aside from ~homemakin~, Kindergarten in my school requires a lottt of crafting!
*palpability of excitement is OVER 9000*
We make toys for open-ended play, decorative crafts, puppets and props for story time, etc! I'm learning the very basics of crochet and knitting for now, but one night I was feeling ambitious and took on a SNOWFLAKE!
|wet + stretch technique for taut and alive isnofleks|
It was a success, but of course I don't remember how to do it anymore. I can only do it while watching the video. huahuahua. (Which I wanna do soon because CHRISTMAS!)
I also made a very simple (and admittedly very cartoony) but cute monkey for a puppet show we had recently and that was super rewarding:
|Ooh-ooh, Ahh-ahh..ng cuute!|
I may have always thought of myself as someone who was crafty and creative or whatever, but it's dawned on me often that although I have many creative ideas, I rarely am able to finish actual work, and this job really allows me to practice more, because somehow, being tasked to finish work, or to create output puts less pressure on making the work perfect, because it's less ~personal~, and it just needs to fit certain requirements that are specified. And in turn, being used to making more work also makes even the more personal work easier, because I'm already in the practice of Doing rather than Overthinking. It's really nice.
But aside from finish-able projects, there is also plenty of room for free playing, and not just for the kids! I also find myself playing around a lot more, and getting back in touch with what doing things for fun is like. Often in my adult life, I've found myself stuck in having to make everything I create mean something, or serve a purpose. There wasn't much free energy flowing outward from me, and I feel like it coagulated somehow and corked my energy in, even when I actually needed it. But my job somehow unstuck me from that somewhat! It put the focus out of my head and into my hands. It strengthens what I believe they refer to as my "Will".
Some of free-playing can be very soothing. There's an activity that our main teacher uses to calm the kids down if we have time before Story Time - everyone gets a ball of beeswax and just molds it into whatever. Beeswax, if you don't already know, isn't exactly as soft as play-dough. You have to be both slower and but more deliberate with it. It's done to make the kid's fingers stronger and to sort of herd their energies inwards rather than outwards. It helps them sit down and focus.
|ma lidol ocdapus|
The toys in the classroom are mostly wood, rope, cloth, and metal. Raaaaaaaaaarely plastic, and little paint. It makes the children's play-world less bright and deafening. The textures are tame and more like nature. And dolls are used to encourage empathy and gentleness.
The kids love tying things together with rope, building structures like houses, shops, and cars. Big ones, with chairs and some wooden skeletal components, often using colorful cloth for walls and roofs (more like pretty canopies). One time we even found them with an island kitchen layout, while one of the girls recreated my story table of The Three Little Pigs, and performed it super well, too! We thought it was reminiscent of our school café!
Early in the mornings, they only play with the "small toys" and during that time, they learn how to share, to borrow, to negotiate with train cars, train tracks, blocks, et cetera (with varying results). I think social manners are so important to establish early on for balanced and confident people (being someone who was super awkward and shy for most of my life), and it's really nice that the school puts that forward. Here is a "car parking building" the kids made next to a train track:
I'm really happy to find myself in a job where I really feel like I'm helping people. And on a more selfish level, a job where I'm not encouraged to put the job before my sanity or health, and where in fact I am encouraged to take care of those things. I remember being told during my interview that I "need to sleep enough for this job"... I came from a call center, so hearing that was as touching as it was confusing for me. They actually care about you (?!!?!?), not just what you can do for them.
|I'm putting this picture of our daily fruit box because it's cute. And because I love that they encourage children to love fruit.|
The school really feels like a community to me, and I didn't expect it to come to us this way, but that's exactly what Beardy and I wanted to have just a year ago, aside from a place of our own. We wanted to find our own community, with people who were a little more like us.
|This picture is special to me, I made vegan patties, lemonade, and a vegetarian potato salad for a birthday I co-prepped with my co-assistant teacher!! ♥|
I'm glad that it's happening to a certain extent, and I just hope it gets even better from here.