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March 2012

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Waldorf Preschool in Caribbean Costa Rica

We have now been in Costa Rica one week.  The time has flown!  We ‘moved’ into our new house in Puerto Viejo on a Saturday and on Monday morning we introduced Grunter and Whoop Whoop to their new school.  That day we stayed a couple of hours and they were very happy.  This was most surprising as Grunter had not let go of my hand in days… (it seemed).  Within a minute of so of entering the school, he dropped my hand to investigate some blocks.  I was shocked and so relieved.
The next day we came at 8am and stayed around 10 minutes before leaving.  Grunter was fine, but W2 had a meltdown about 2 hours into the day and they called us to come get him.  Thankfully, we are just down the road and can quickly return.  Grunter probably would’ve been fine, but of course when he saw mommy it was all over!

Their second full day, they did great and attended the entire school day 8am-12pm!
They even ate their ‘snack’ of lentils with onions and tumeric (they have never eaten lentils for me).
Unfortunately, the 12pm time is a bit too late for their body clocks and they are waking much earlier here–the sun rises, the howler monkeys hoot and a million birds wake up right outside our windows at 5:30am.
When I put them down for a nap too late, they miss their ‘sweet spot’ and simply are too worked up to sleep.  Yesterday was one of those days:(

When they miss a nap, it affects their nighttime sleep and everything falls apart.  This morning, W2 woke up at FOUR a.m.  We brought him into bed with us thinking he’d crash out, but it never happened.  Grunter woke up at 5:30 and we strapped them into the Ergos and walked the beach looking for crabs and admiring the crashing waves.
By the time it was ready to go to school, W2 was a nutcase, but we went.  I knew today they wouldn’t make it a full day, so I’ve arranged to come get them at 10am and put them down for an early (hopefully very, very long) nap!

The little school is simply amazing.  We are so lucky they are letting the twins attend for this month.  It’s so good for them to be independent and well, good for the mommies, too!

When they come inside from playing they wash their hands and feet and then put on lotion and clean clothes before it’s time to go home.  For the prices of preschools in Manhattan, it should include foot rubs as well!  I wish we had something a little like this available–for $160 a month!

Here is a sample of the school:

Dear parents,

Now we are entering our second month of school, the children are comfortable, the teachers are  familiar with each child, the daily and weekly rhythm and each other. 
Our focus remains on the importance of free play as an educational and developmental tool. Children up to 7 years old learn through imitation and we work everyday on being good role models, engaged and happy in the work we do. Household tasks like sweeping, dusting, setting and clearing the table, washing dishes, raking and weeding help with large motor movements, co-ordination, sequencing, organizational skills as well as the more subtle effects of maintaining a healthy and beautiful environment. The children participate in every aspect of this, from taking the compost to the compost pile, caring for and feeding the bunny, cutting vegetables for our snack, helping Archangel, our worker, build the new chicken house, bringing in the laundry . . . all wonderful examples of what it means to work – and work towards something together! The children are really learning a lot while they are helping. This healthy work also appears in their free play when they share a picnic, or change the diapers on the baby dolls. 
Our daily rhythm is taking shape as we work with the natural rhythms of the children and the day. We begin with an hour and twenty minutes of free play where the children are mostly outside playing on the swings, in the sandbox or exploring. During this time there is always an adult led activity at out table: Mondays we cut pumpkin, Tuesdays we play with dough, Wednesdays we draw with crayons and Thursdays we cut vegetables. This mix of artistic and practical table work with a teacher gives the children a time to concentrate and work on developing fine motor skills. Singing while we work always makes it rhythmical and flowing.
At 9:20 we come in for hand washing and setting the table. The kindergarten children take it in turns to bring us our fruit snack. At table, when we are all sitting in our correct places, with our placemats and our hands quiet we sing our blessing:
“Blessing on the blossom
Blessing on the fruit
Blessing on the leaf and stem
Blessing on the root
Blessing on the farmer
And those who made the meal
peace be on the Earth
And peace begins with me.”
there’s always applause at the end of the verse! After our fruit we play inside for a time. The children who wish, join us for some short songs and movement games. At this age we cannot and do not expect all the children to participate, but there is more expectation that the children over 2 and a 1/2 years will join us. The verses are mostly nursery rhymes with movements that go along with the actions. In the verses we are working with language, imagery and movement. Our verses might be in Spanish, English or nonsense words – we are working to develop listening skills and imitation of more complex sounds and small movements. 
After our brief circle we may go out into the garden to do some work, or play. We have moved our second snack to the earlier time of 10:45. Again the children wash hands, help set the table and sing blessing. We tidy our dishes and it’s time to brush teeth and go to the potty. Washing dishes is always a popular activity! The children are usually ready to be changed into fresh clothes and then we play inside or on the deck until pick up time.
It’s a busy day for the children and many are tired by 12 o’clock. As they are changing into fresh clothes they are realizing that soon their parents will come. Each day at this point we see  the children begin to miss their mamas and papis, and some tears can come with these sad feelings. As the year progresses and the children grow more accustomed to the rhythm of the day and the knowledge that yes, their parents will always come, these feelings will lessen.