The importance of grandparents and special friends
By Lorie Hammond
Next week, April 5-7, is grandparents’ week in all of our classrooms!
I know that all of us appreciate the role that grandparents play in our children’s lives. We see grandparents dropping off and picking up happy children every day, and know that families are lucky who have grandparents in town who can participate in the daily life of their grandchildren. But I think we could go further in integrating grandparents and other special friends, including senior citizens in our neighborhoods, in the life of our school.
This week is a time to begin the process.
Our children could benefit soooo much from grandparents reading stories, helping with projects, or just being an extra adult in their lives, who listens to what they have to say. I know that grandparents are busy these days, but I think we might reach out more than we have to invite our grandparents or neighbors to be a part of our school life on an everyday or weekly basis. Think about whether a grandparent or special friend in your family would like such an invitation, and if so let our teachers know. Our children can also use another special friend!
Please look for notes from your child’s teacher about specific events in your child’s classroom. Each teacher is organizing his/her own version of this event. But the days for each of our programs are as follows:
Wednesday, April 5- Grandparents and Special Friends’ Day at Peregrine ECC West—Participation in classrooms from 10:30-11:30 AM, with tea with Director Lorie for those who would like to learn more about the school at 11:30 in Room P-2.
Thursday, April 6- Grandparents and Special Friends’ Day at Peregrine ECC South– Specific teachers will give you information about when to come.
Friday, April 6- Grandparents and special friends’ day at Peregrine Elementary- Teachers will send information about details.
by Lorie Hammond, Director, Peregrine School
Schools define a community’s values and its faith in the future.
Peregrine School provides a model of childhood and of 21st century education which is inspiring and instructive to its participants and to others in our community and region.
At Peregrine School, we value children as actors in their world, creating real solutions and thinking critically about their world. We respect children as profound thinkers and high-level participants, regardless of their age. We provide opportunities for children to express their thoughts, to be real actors in their classroom world and eventually, the larger world. When a toddler draws and tells us about it, we record what is said as a serious message, and keep it as a measure of that child’s thoughts. When upper school students write poetry, we provide opportunities for it to be performed as a public poetry reading in an art gallery. When we study science, we act as scientists; when doing art, we act as artists.
In the 21stCentury, we know that most of the jobs which our children will hold do not exist today. We live in a time of rapid change, when huge problems and huge possibilities will emerge. The skills which students need to enter this world go beyond the 3 R’s and “doing what you are told”. Tomorrow’s adults will need to be creative problem solvers, peacemakers between groups, environmentalists who understand the natural world, and pragmatists who can recognize and take advantage of opportunities. They will need to know and care about science and history, so that the can become caring and competent citizens and husbanders of an increasingly complex world.
Peregrine School has several purposes: 1) to provide a broad, excellent education to our children, so that they can reach their highest potential both for themselves and as citizens, 2) to educate the entire community and region, including parents and teachers, about possibilities for childhood and for 21st Century education, 3) to reach out internationally through community service learning and study tours, and through multicultural, multilingual programs at our school, and 4) to celebrate education and childhood as joyful experiences.
By Lorie Hammond, Director, Peregrine School
Ten years ago Peregrine School was a dream just coming into focus, born of long walks with my daughter Elena, as we thought of the kind of education we would like to create for her children. This dream then spread to a playgroup of parents, such as Kim Longworth, who joined in the vision and of our first group of children, who have just graduated from the sixth grade after spending nine years in Peregrine. Soon Su-Fei arrived as a chef to help start our food program, and we were on our way.
What began as a very personal dream has now become a public shared reality.
This weekend, Peregrine had its first board retreat. Sixteen board members and parent representatives gathered to begin a process which we will carry on in our whole community this year: a process of planning what we want for our school for the next five to ten years.
Looking back, it is wondrous to see how far we have come, and how many people have given tireless thought and energy into getting us here. Many thanks to them all. As a non-profit independent school, everything including funding has come from parents and volunteers, as well as our wonderful staff of teachers who are the heart of the program day to day, and our tireless admin staff, which solves a myriad of problems every day.
In our first year we were a single classroom on the west site, the first escuelita class. Fabiola Vidrio, our current west primaria teacher, was our first hired employee, and Gabriela Cortez was soon to follow. At that time we felt that the west site was so large that we would not fill it! We could not have imagined that we eventually would have two sites, although creating an elementary school was always central to the dream. The west site, with its now beautifully developed environments, remains at the heart of our vision.
This will be our third year at the south site. The potential of this large space is just becoming real to us. With the new Chinese Immersion class (Pandas), we have filled the preschool to capacity (90) this year. The elementary school has also grown to about 60 students, and will be at capacity when it hits 80. Every inch of our building is now in use! At least as importantly to our SOAR vision, this site has an acre of land. With our students, we are attempting to “green” and to “wild” this site as quickly as possible, to make outdoor classrooms and play spaces for our students.
In this tenth year, it is essential that we look deeply at our vision. What ties together our many programs? What is their shared goal?
Both Reggio Emilia and Project Based learning are parts of a much larger tradition, which is called “progressive education.” In the United States, John Dewey is the philosopher behind this tradition, and we still read him to look for inspiration.
The central tenet of this educational movement is that the child is the agent in his/her own education. This is different, in fact opposite, from the traditional educational approach which focuses on a body of knowledge which must be transmitted. In traditional education, the student is an empty vessel to be filled with knowledge. In the “progressive” tradition, in contrast, the child is seen as a very active player with existing ideas and understandings. Our goal is to engage a group of children, through when play they are young, and later through provocative experiences. Experience is at the heard of education, but what kind of experience, Dewey challenges us to ask, is most educative?
Progressive schools are constantly evolving, just like the students within them. At this tenth year, I perceive our community of teachers, staff, and families as involved in a deepening inquiry about how to enrich our learning community. Our teachers are life-long learners, exploring constantly how to do things better. Last year we created SOAR: Science, outdoor education, arts, and responsibility, as a unique combination of activities that define Peregrine School. This year we are exploring more deeply how we teach each in of these areas.
If traditional schools measure information learned, using tests, how do we measure our progress as a learning community?
First, we look at our intentions.
A key intention is engagement. Our goal is to provide provocations, in the form of age and interest appropriate arrangements of toys, inviting art materials, or rich environments which cause children to engage in meaningful ways. Our teachers build on this engagement through inquiry questions and creative reactions to children’s dialogues, so that a teachable moment can be transformed into a sustained, meaningful play experience or inquiry. This is as true for a sixth grader as for a toddler, although expectations increase with time.
How do we know what our expectations should be? Accountability is a buzz word in education. Are students meeting expectations? How do we know? For young students, we look at the overlap between spontaneous play and developmental standards. If we want a child to learn to hop, we might put out a provocation of something to hop over, or play “hopping” music, then watch if a milestone is met. This is what portfolios are about. We measure progress against accepted norms. Documentation is a central part of our program. We keep track of how individual children develop, and also assess constantly whether our provocations are creating the learning we desire.
In primaria and elementary school, we transition from assessing developmental standards into measuring the connection between the challenges we provide and important skills and knowledge in academic disciplines. Are students challenged to behave like scientists, asking questions and doing experiments, and are their results recorded with increasing rigor as they get older? The crux of progressive education lies in making the connection between experiences meaningful to a child and disciplinary goals which lead to further, more advanced learning. Finding challenges and teaching methods which meet students’ levels and interests and which motivate further learning is a never-ending quest, which requires life-long learning on the part of the teacher. There is no one right answer about how to do this, and the answer which works with one child or one class might not work with the next. This means that teachers are also researchers, constantly problem solving and reflecting about best practices.
In Reggio schools, people speak of the environment as a teacher. Our classrooms are rich environments, constantly curated to provide interesting provocations to our students. Also, our gardens are major learning sites. We are committed to the continuous development of our gardens and cultivated wild areas as places for play and learning.
Place based, outdoor education is a focus at Peregrine School for us for at least two reasons. First, Davis is a science and environmentally oriented city, and Reggio’s goal is to teach children in the context of their own community. Second, there is increasing awareness world-wide, spearheaded by the forest schools of Scandinavia, that children learn many things outside that they cannot learn inside, and are healthier and happier for it.
We hope that everyone in our community will take time to walk through our environments at both sites every so often to see how they are developing, and will participate in helping with projects that enhance our outdoor environment for both play and structured learning.
As we enter this tenth year, please join with us in thinking about and sharing what you want to see in a school for your child and for our community. What began as a mother-daughter musing about a good school for our own family has now become a shared reality for a whole community. Peregrine is a place where people of all ages can work together to create a wonderful space for our children and for ourselves as lifelong learners. Please join in envisioning possibilities and in participating actively in the growth of this exciting place.
Today Chris asked a question that has been out there awhile, but which I hadn’t really faced. He asked Harvey and I how we felt about Isabella’s years at Peregrine, and what we felt we/Isabella had gained. It’s THE question.
Perspective: I mentioned that Harvey and I are product of the OLD school drill and kill method of teaching. Little was asked of us, but that we follow instruction. Certainly we weren’t prompted to ask many questions. Rigid instruction, conforming and obedience do not lend to knowing oneself or passion. We wanted more for Isabella as all parents do.
So we sent her to a progressive school, Peregrine, where questions are encouraged and explorations valued. Pedagogy is my least favorite word still, but we actively chose a model different for Isabella with which Harvey and I were not always comfortable. Tough for us to evaluate without bias, but Isabella is most certainly a Peregrine product.
I’ve been thinking what that looks like. But when and how do you take a measure of “happy” or “self-fulfilled”? Too heavy for me consider, but this is what is evident: she loves school, she loves learning. She loves her teachers and admires them greatly. There’s a reciprocity with her teachers and her interactions. She feels like she has agency in the world in which she can ask questions and express her opinions. She values the dialogue Chris and Carol guide around topics as diverse as identification of core human traits, for example: what parties participated in the writing of the Constitution, what is a catastrophe, why an artist speaks to us, how propaganda operates or what reduces our carbon foot print. After she reads a book, she wants to discuss it for Pete’s sake! She has so many ideas too.
But I appreciate that she has already had a truly rich education in a respectful and loving environment. I am grateful to the people of Peregrine for the wonderful potential and inspiration, maybe even fire in Isabella.
Yifu, (age 6) from Peregrine School’s K-1 class just won the 2017 Yolo-Solano clean air calendar contest! Congratulations!!
Emily Dalmeyer (4 years)
We’re reposting this in honor of an amazing educator who inspired so many in the field of early childhood education.
The Last Word: Bev Bos Curriculum director at Roseville Community Preschool/
early childhood education expert/author
Shared from- Sacramento Magazine
by Catherine Warmerdam
Posted on February 12
Photography by Tyler & Christina
I’ve been working with preschoolers for 50 years. When Roseville Community Preschool first opened, what the parents really wanted was a place to take their children so that they could have half a day off to go shopping. But they wanted to make it valuable and kind of fun. When I took the job, I had five children and I thought, “Well, this will give me enough money to buy new shoes.” I never thought I would make a career of it. And here I am: I’ve written books, I’ve given 6,000 workshops, I’ve spoken in every state in the union. I really didn’t plan it.
I was born and raised in North Dakota. I was a twin and I weighed less than 4 pounds when I was born. The doctor said, “The little girl won’t live, but the little boy will.” But it didn’t work that way. We were a very, very poor family in the sense that my dad didn’t make much money, but our lives were really rich with storytelling and singing, singing, singing. My dad and mother used to put the eight of us kids in the car, and we’d just go for a drive so that we could sing. I used to sometimes sit in the back and hope that they had enough money to get us an ice cream cone, but they hardly ever did.
I always know—and I don’t know how I know it—what a child needs. I’m really good at paying attention and watching what children do. I can always tell when something is wrong with a child.
For me, being child-centered means I try not to have preconceived ideas. I watch some people and they’ll say, “Oh, there’s an ADD kid,” or whatever. I don’t do that. Every child, from their toes up, has value to me. I think kids are idiosyncratic and they sometimes do weird things, but I just don’t pass a judgment on a child, and I never think that there is a child who isn’t worth all of my energy.
It is going to destroy us if we don’t start paying attention to letting children play. There are 11 conditions for human growth, and all of them fit into play. They need to be outside. They can do so much there. They can feel a sense of belonging there. They can take risks.
All children need one person who will always stand behind them, no matter what’s going on. They need one person to whom they can say, “Please, I need help.” Someone they can really depend upon. You don’t have to be your kid’s best friend, but you’ve got to be their best defender. You’ve got to stand behind them and hold them tight. You have to tell them, “I’ll always be here. Even if you’ve messed up, I’m going to be here for you.”
If you really want to be a good parent, set some time aside every single day to lie on the bed and just listen to your kid. Make it their time. Don’t be in a rush. Time is fleeting, so you really need to pay attention.
Our Eagles Class culminated their unit on American History with their very own short film on the American Revolution! Our 2nd, 3rd, & 4th graders researched and wrote the script, designed the sets and costumes, and acted- all while learning about film making and the portrayal of history in film. Check it out!