Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Visit to Middle Earth and Yoga

Yesterday was such a great day! My friend Ross is a teacher at Middle Earth Child Development Center in Norman and he set up a meeting for me with the director so that I could visit, observe and ask lots of questions.  I just recently started my quest to visit as many reputable preschools/daycares in the metro area in order to learn what I can before developing the structure for 612's child care component, The Young School.

I feel so lucky because as soon as I walked in the front door I could tell that this place was special. The children not only looked happy and active, they looked loved and engaged.  I had no doubt that kids in Ross' class would feel that way (and every assumption I had about that was confirmed as I watched his kiddos play) because he's such a great and happy soul himself, but it wasn't just in Ross' class that I observed this situation.

The teachers also looked happy...all over the center.  That's always a good sign.  When I spoke with the director, Elizabeth Heath, I knew that there was a reason for the joyful atmosphere.  Even under the pressure of running a place serving over 100 kids, she had a smile on her face.  I couldn't believe my good fortune in having someone in her position (she's been the director for 11 years) answer questions and give advice.  She told me stories of how Middle Earth started back in the early 70s with a coop structure, how it has changed over the past 30+ years and that their philosophy statement was the first statement related to child daycare to be published in the US.  Many other programs have used this philosophy as a basis for their own.  After reading it and observing yesterday, I understand why and will definitely want to reference it when we're writing ours.

She gave the best advice and she also told me about a wonderful program going on in Van Nuys, California.  OneGeneration is a daycare program that serves Seniors and children at the same time! I have some big dreams for ways we can incorporate intergenerational learning at 612 because I think it's really important for people of all ages. In fact, I've written about it in a previous post and the TED Talk video I included names it as a key to happiness.  OneGeneration seems to be a place that is fully devoted to this idea.  Elizabeth Heath actually went to visit OneGeneration and related stories of how impressed she was with the success of their activities and approach to learning.  I want this for 612!!! In fact, I would love to go and experience it for myself because I think I could learn a lot, not only about the program, but how to make it happen.

As I sat there, listening to all of Elizabeth Heath's advice, I realized that I was very lucky to start these observations in such a great place.  I think the bar was set very high. I look forward to whatever I will learn in future visits to other centers, but the schools/daycares will have to be pretty awesome to top what I saw there.

After the visit, I went to yoga.  YES, YOGA! I've finally gone back.  In fact, I went twice this week to Ashtanga Yoga Studio and it has already helped.  I find myself so much more relaxed and centered. I'll be going back next week and I honestly can't wait.  I know it's going to help change my body in positive ways, but it's also so good for my mind.  My life, even though overwhelming at times, is very full and I predict that yoga will help me to slow down and count my blessings. Namaste. :)

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