“Our community is committed to a lifestyle conducive to holistic childrearing and personal growth.” – from the Breitenbush Credo
For almost six years now, I have had the honor and privilege of serving as the Childcare Coordinator for the children who live at Breitenbush. To me, “holistic”, as it appears in the Credo, means the unbroken connectedness of life, community, and environment. The world is our classroom. Learning doesn’t flow from a canned curriculum created by some educational publishing company, it evolves out of what is important in our world. Our childcare program is committed to loving and respecting children as complete human beings, as much teachers as they are learners. All of us here in community benefit from the presence of our children.
The children and I focus on participation in the wonder and beauty of our natural environment, as well as supporting the community in which we live. For example, Childcare enhances Breitenbush’s recycling effort by acting as the RAT Patrol (Recycling Action Team). We gather and sort recyclable materials and help raise awareness of the importance of completing the circle of resource use. We also support our community by honoring members who demonstrate superior commitment and dedication by awarding the “OJ Hooray Award”. Whenever we find a deserving member of the community, we present that person with a glass of fresh squeezed OJ along with a cheer and a song to let them know how much we appreciate their efforts. Daily we learn about the birds and critters, the trees and plant life. We fall into the soft, moist moss of spring and autumn, and breathe deeply the rich loamyness of our Mother Earth. We sing to the river and listen as she sings back.
This year, the Breitenbush Community has gifted our current and future generations of children with a new childcare facility – a 16’ by 20’ room added on to the original 80-year-old School House cabin. It is my hope that we will choose to create here a beautiful “studio”. I have recently become involved in studying the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. Originally developed in Italy, it is named after the town in which it began. People around the world have become attracted to this model because it allows children and adults alike to open up to the wide array of materials that we can use for the purposes of communication, education and building meaningful relationships. It is a way of working that cultivates creative thinking everywhere.
As we evolve in our marvelous experiment of community, may this addition of an art-based curriculum for our children help us to know and understand each other better and give us other ways to share and better love all of our fellow human beings. Every loving and educational exchange with a child is an investment in the future of the world.
– Carol Leona