Guest Post by LORI: The Nest Program {a place for a child to truly grow}

Welcome, Lori, to the BUSHBABY journal. We're so happy to get to know you + hear a bit about the special class you teach in Peoria!

Hello! My name is Lori.

The Nest is my parent/child class that I’ve started from my home here in Peoria Illinois. My class follows the model and philosophies of Rudolf Steiner (founder of the Waldorf Schools) and the principles and practices of LifeWays North America.

“Young children thrive in a home or homelike environment that offers beauty, comfort and security, and connection to the living world of nature.” ~ Home Away from Home.

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As mentioned, The Nest follows the same practices found in LifeWays:

  • the need for relationship-based care (bonding and continuity)
  • recognition of living arts (domestic, nurturing, creative and social arts) as central to the advancement of children’s social, emotional, and intellectual skills

The Nest is a parent/child class for children 18 months- 3 1/2 year olds. An adult must accompany the child. I mostly have the mothers join in with their children but I also have had fathers, grandparents, and a couple of nannies bring the children. It is great fun especially to see the men dive into the class with such enthusiasm!

The class follows a gentle rhythm that begins as soon as they come through my front door. Rhythm is essentially our main topic that we cover here at The Nest. Life becomes simpler and less stressful for both caregivers and children when a supportive rhythm/routines are established. After slippers have been placed on feet, we pass through to the bathroom to wash hands to a song. Once little hands have been washed, they roll dough out at their table to a fun baking song. I place the baking sheets into the oven and it is time for free play for the children while I take the adults for a simple sewing project. No sewing background needed! The children play nicely with the wooden and handmade toys placed throughout several downstairs rooms. There are no plastic or electronic toys for the children to play with. Play is how children learn. When they play without the use of technology, they learn to create, problem solve, and to internalize emotions.

“Play is the work of the young child” ~ Rudolph Steiner.

After free play and sewing time, we all clean up to yet another song that leads right into circle time! Circle time consists of finger plays and seasonal songs for the adults and children to do together. Children love it when their adult sings along!

“Emphasis is on loving human interaction with warm speech, live singing, verses, and stories rather than technology.” ~Home Away from Home.

After a few songs, the aroma of freshly baked bread calls us into the dining area for snack time. The parents and children set the table together. Once the table has been set and a singing blessings has been sung, it is time to eat! A basket full of fresh hot bread rolls, a variety of fresh fruits and veggies await to be served. We are working on teaching our children to pass the dishes around the table and other table etiquette.

Once snack time has come to an end, clean up songs are sung and amazingly, the chore of sweeping, washing dishes, and tables with the children becomes fun and pleasant. While the house is in the middle of this cleaning frenzy, I quietly set up my table for the puppet show.

The shows are usually nursery rhymes or classic stories brought to life through singing puppets! The shows are usually very short in length due to the attention span for this age group. Some of my previous puppet plays have been: The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Elves and The Shoemaker, Willow The Witch, and Baa Baa Black Sheep.

“Foundation for lifelong literacy is fostered through storytelling and puppetry; through individual lap time with a book; through poetry, verse, and music on a daily basis; through drama; and through the daily interactions of play and movement in a healthy, secure environment.” ~ Home Away from Home

Finally, it is time to say good-bye. We all join hands in a circle and sing a lovely good-bye song to end our two hour class.
It has been a passion of mine to work with young families to help them through this most wonderful yet exhausting time of raising their children. Today’s society is pushing for our children to advance intellectually too soon! Studies have shown that children’s mental capacities are not ready for this until the age of around seven years. My hope for The Nest is to allow the families and their children to slow the pace down and enjoy life as it is because time really does fly and children are children for a very short time!

Thank you, Lori for inviting us to a day at your class -- it sounds + looks just lovely!

Lori Harms is a graduate of Illinois State University in Elementary Education and a LifeWays graduate (More info about this child-development training organization based in Milwaukee Wisconsin here).

For information on The Nest Program and registration forms for upcoming sessions go to: The Nest Program