The children of Swallowtail School are settling into their routines this week, after spending last week on our Farm campus.
Each school year opens with a week at the Farm for our Kindergarteners through 8th graders. It’s a lot of fun. The children play games, go on expeditions, get acquainted with the Farm property and its animals, and work on projects. The week culminates in a “big game”, a cooperative and mildly competitive game created by the teachers for grades 1-8 to play together. By the end of the week, they are dirty, exhausted, and fulfilled.
We refer to this very special return to school as Outdoor School, but really it’s a team-building retreat.
Throughout ‘Outdoor School’, our teachers take care to lead their classes in cooperative games and in projects; to challenge them to work as a team and to get to know each other better. They split up in groups to do projects; for example, some of the seventh graders built picnic tables for the Early Childhood program.
The classes play cooperative games together - such as parachute games - and they play games with all ages, in an effort to get to know all of their schoolmates better. The older children are given leadership roles in the all-school games, establishing their status as mentors to the younger children in their school. It’s a status they hold throughout the school year.
Outdoor School also provides time for personal reflection with art projects. And the grades each get started on Handwork by prepping their materials for the upcoming year’s projects. This year, students dyed wool and fabric.
The rest of the year, our Farm campus will serve as a site for environmental education. The third grade will visit regularly to tend to the animals, and the fifth grade will visit regularly to learn Botany. Our Kindergartens, and first and second grades will visit weekly for environmental education and for the benefit of simply being comfortable in nature.