How is this program different…?

Have you heard of the Slow Food movement? We’re sort of like that with our early childhood program at The Magnolia School. In everything we do, we seek to promote a Slow Childhood – creating a gentle, natural environment where children have the time and space to really unfold and develop their qualities as young human beings on our beautiful planet. We feel that promoting a Slow Childhood is one way to counterbalance the hectic, accelerated, media-driven world of today. 

What makes our program unique? 

We don’t rush. Instead, our daily rhythm has us dancing, skipping, and scampering through our day, and then we sit down around a beautiful set table for a home-cooked lunch. We don’t believe in cheap plastic toys. Our classroom is filled with objects made of wood, stone, silk and wool, molded beeswax and real blossoming wildflowers. These things are much more real (and beautiful), and much more nourishing to the soul. Showing videos doesn’t fit into our lesson plans. Instead we will tell a story, create a puppet-show, assist the children in acting out fairy tales, or observe them as they create their own imaginative game. Playing the kids some recorded music is not our cup of tea, either.  We’d rather sing together or play the harp, or pipe a tune on the wooden flute. And what if it’s raining outside, or freezing cold in the wintertime? Excellent! That’s no reason to stay indoors! Whatever the weather, the natural world is our natural home. Because children at The Magnolia School are dressed for the occasion, we spend extended periods of time every day outdoors, rain or shine or snow. (With extreme weather conditions, of course we’ll stay indoors for safety reasons.)

All of this makes up a recipe for early childhood education that we’re really excited about. These are the ingredients we work with:  beauty, stillness, rhythm, melody, community, harmony, joy.

Toys Faeries

To what purpose? So that children learn to be part of their world, not observers of it. So that they learn practical life skills – weaving, baking, gardening, nature study, chopping vegetables for soup, using a hammer and sandpaper – that give them confidence and a firm sense of their own accomplishments. So that they value community, and the social bonds that knit us together. So that they embrace the natural world and come to love it: the beautiful September days as well as the drizzly February mornings, the brown toad and the chickadee, the dandelion and the magnolia blossom. 

What do the children learn? Our program, for children age 3-6, prepares them socially, emotionally and academically for the demands of a more traditional school program (Kindergarten or Grade 1). Literacy skills and mathematics are woven into the fabric of the day. Drawing, modeling, and preparing food fosters small muscle control, while gardening and other practical “work” (like sweeping, digging or dragging fallen branches around to build a fort) strengthens the limbs. Nature study and explorations in Tower Grove Park teach them about the region's flora and fauna, weather and the seasons, and local geography. Through our outdoor program we seek to develop healthy willpower, inspire self-confidence, and awaken children to the wonders all around them.

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