News From LB and Claudio:

November 12, 2012

On one of our recent glorious fall days the class went to Claudio’s house for the day. We’ve been doing this with our groups since Claudio and Mary Helen bought the house a couple of years ago, and every time we go we marvel at how much the children enjoy their time there, and how well they handle the independence we grant them while there. The house sits in 5 acres of woods, with a mostly dry streambed, a large ravine, and wooded slopes being the main landscape features. For boundaries we just tell the kids, “If you can see the house, you’re fine. If you can’t, move to where you can.” Then we let them go, and they scatter in the woods and keep themselves amused for hours. (We also have chickens and a bunny.) Among other activities, this time they rebuilt a “fort”, a large structure made of dead branches leaned together over a fallen tree. They spread bright yellow paw-paw leaves inside to make a bed. They clambered inside a large fallen beech tree with its complex of branches and leaves. They climbed slopes. They slid down slopes. They found geodes. Needless to say, it was magical to see them play in such beautiful surroundings, and truly there were no conflicts that we adults had to deal with—something we can’t say about any regular day at school. Our visits out there always confirm our belief that children need (and love) time outdoors for true free play. We will be going again, hopefully once each season.

This month we have been exploring conflict resolution, our emotions (especially anger), and ways to talk with each other when conflicts arise. The main template we want kids to learn is how to make “I statements”: I feel (fill in) when you (fill in) because (fill in). It really is powerful when we address each other that way rather than with the more common “you statements” (You always blah, you make me blah, why did you etc.),which tend to make people defensive and can escalate conflicts. Of course we will be personally guiding the children as they practice these skills as situations arise (they already have…). We believe these skills will serve them well over their whole lives, and they are an important part of realizing our ethos. Ask your child about it. Make “I statements” at home!

Enjoy the fall of leaf, the flaming farewell to warm days.

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