Aloha families now is the perfect moment to spend quality time with your children. Many families will and can take this opportunity to act on and remember these times as moments when you and your children grew to know each other better. Let us pacify some of the over stimulation in the world. Breathe deeply and stay in gratitude. I'm offering some suggestions that may work for your family in keeping it simply, fun, and loving for your most precious little gifts.
For the Heart - Verbally express your love to your child, rock you little ones back and forth, play calming music, put lavender oil in the diffusor or add into play dough for some calm play. Sing songs of kindness and Love, songs with positive and uplifting words that makes you feel happy.
Fine motor- Use droppers, tongs, chopsticks, spoons to have your child transfer 10 objects from one container to another. This will strengthen their fingers and wrist muscles needed for pre-writing. Have your child draw a picture of what it means to be kind. Stay as unconditional as you can when they express themselves. Create a drawing with your child of something silly or of their interest and color together.
Grossmotor- Have family dance parties, frog hops and crab walk around the house(making it safe of course), run in place, walking s l o w l y as sloths or jackson chameleons. Dig in the dirt, plant some new crops, new trees. When the child starts to walk on their tippy toes, tip toe with them, go into their world. If they are overstimulated and walking on their tiptoes give the child heavy lifting work to do or provide deep pressure in the form of gentle massage on their arms.
Life skills- Keep an organized area of play, less is more. In a non-judgemental tone have them eat over their plates, clean up their crumbs after meals and sponge their area. Welcome the crumbs, its an opportunity for them to learn and practice taking care of themselves and one another. Re-teach the washing hands routine and sing to different songs while scrubbing.
Communication- Give your child at least 10 seconds of processing time when you are request something of them. Request a 3 step directions so that it is manageable for their brains, for example: 1.Go to the living room, 2.grab your red truck and 3.bring to your room. Observe your tone and words, if you feel impatient from cabin fever or stress go to the bathroom and take some deep breaths. Give your child boundaries by giving them reminders for transitions saying "In 5 minute were going to eat dinner, clean up, take a shower or whatever task you need. Most importantly is to follow through so the child understands the importance of starting something, finishing it and to learn the value of being present and how to listen to others. Go down to their level, observe their eyes to see if they seem lost or if they understand and are processing what you have expressed. Loving and calming repeat directions a second time if needed. They are learning and learn best when they feel calmness around them.
Spirit- The child is a sensitive and pure being, they are empathic to what is around them. If you feel stress they will too. What ever you believe that brings you positive upliftment continue to do, pray, chant and or go into nature, sit by a tree, breathe deeply. Days will go by and your children will grow remember these sacred and precious moments.
Continue to follow your intuition and if you would like to join me, light a candle together and offer it for your family's and the world's peace. Aloha to all Vanessa Valencia M.A.T. peace educator
Coming into the community allows me to share education beyond the classroom. Edith and I were so happy to have the opportunity to volunteer at the Maui Earth Day Festival. The festival was filled with many great speakers such as Doreen Virtue and many booths representing sustainability. In the keiki (children's) section we created a project where the children could create their own flower of peace. As the eternal environment influences the internally environment I found it important to incorporate mindful activities that would allow the children to incorporate both their ability to be creative and reflective. Last year I created a color-coordinated crayon stand. Aesthetically it looks pleasing to the children along with creating a sense of order. They enjoyed sorting the colors and I observe them placing the crayon tips pointing it up, as it was originally placed. Both the crayon holder(from last year) and the world map was inspired by Montessori materials. The activity consisted of creating their own peace flower. They then created a message to the world regarding peace and the environment. As the children wrote their message my mind focused in on sending peace to the world. I mentally did the white flower meditation taught by Amma. The meditation includes chanting for world peace as one imagines white flowers of peace touching every creature on earth. One of our sweet friend's Melissa stop by, she was adored with a white flower. I felt it was symbolic of my intention for creating peace flowers. I was delighted and we added her flower right next to our peace sign for a short time. I had the children close their eyes and go into their hearts. The children came up with great ideas for example one was "taking care of the bees" . Through protection of bees, mother nature can create more food bridging the nutrition gap world wide. Another child wrote "don't pollute". Pollution brings up the topic of hygiene and sanitation world wide. These were and are important ideas brought up by the children. The most magical highlight of the days was when I was explaining to the children the different continents and to imagine sending love and peace to every person, animal, tree and plant, a small white flower fell on to their flowers. Through out the day various white flowers fell and appeared from the tree above us. These tiny flowers showered and accompanied us as we sent out the intention for peace on this earth.
My purpose and passion is for a more peaceful world. I have a passion for guiding children towards remembering they have the tools to be in and work towards recognizing love, resolve conflicts and create peaceful situations. I believe that this not only starts with the teacher, classroom and schools, but also at home, in the community, our relationship with nature and the world at large. In order to work towards my goals, I must do my continuous inner work of releasing that which doesn’t work, finding and creating solutions and witnessing and becoming mindful with each child, person and situation. Whether its substituting in a school, leading and co-teaching a children’s workshop, or consulting with parents to assist their children at home. Peace must be sought with in and then through that access we can works towards a more conscious and peaceful society.
My heart feels so greatly blessed to have had the opportunity to attend the "2015 Spirit of the UN Awards". Speakers and members shared their wisdom about the culture of Peace, collaboration, compassion and most essentially, that which is within us - Love. Later I started my Montessori Model UN training. One part of a mural by Jose Vela Zanetti stood out for me- the hands. The hands represent seeds of hope it reminds me of one of my favorite Montessori quotes: "The secret of good teaching is to regard the child's intelligence as a fertile field, in which seeds may be sown to grow under the heat of flaming imagination. Our aim therefore, is not merely to make the child understand and memorize facts but to touch his imagination and to interest the child to his innermost core.We do not want complacent pupils, but eager ones: we seek to sow life in the child rather than theories, to help the child grow mentally, socially, emotionally and physically." - Maria Montessori. May the spiritual values of love, compassion and peace touch the core of our hearts so that we can continue to work, live and play as one earth family. Aloha, Love, Amor...
As an educator and life long learner I find myself reflecting on my experiences. It allows me to better understand what I have learned and therefore allows me the awareness to provide and create rich and meaningful experiences with the children under my care. Service to others and cultural awareness go hand in hand. For example, as a young child and teenager volunteering or doing service at home, in my town, surrounding areas as well as abroad was a wonderful opportunity to further develop compassion and appreciation. In rural areas of Colombia, I saw happy children but with ripped clothes. In Italy, I saw distressed street children asking for money and food. In Morocco, I saw quiet young girls making rugs. I interacting with many of the children and although with some I did not speak their language, I felt a connection as we were all children. I played and laughed with them. I offered clothes, bread, and tried to consul the young Moroccan girl. I wanted her to hide the coin to keep it for herself. I looked around the room to hide the coin, finally I came up with an idea. I showed her how to tuck it in her dress seam. I knew the fate of that coin may get to someone else..In exchange she gave me a hug and let me weave a part of her rug. My weaving didn't work out. She smiled and patiently set it up again, and again and again. Then it was her turn. Colorful threads moving left and right, up and down although out the loom. It was intricate and I was amazed of how quickly she moved to make the design with all smiles. I learned about the beauty in their world...
Some of the trips we went on were intentional trips to serve and some became spontaneous sharing of Love. Although there were harsh realities in their life these meaningful exchanges taught me about the world, cultures, the spontaneous feeling of Love and to take immediate action towards helping those in need. It taught me that all these children where just like me.
Children have a natural sense of unity towards other children. It is important as educators and caretakers that we continue to nurture this sense of unity in children. If you do have the opportunity to travel this is great is you don't, I wish that one day you have the opportunity too but there is still a lot that can be done at home, in the classroom, school community and your town at large.
At home children can do service around the house through watering plants, cleaning the dishes or anything you think or feel will service your family as a whole. Remember when handling tasks that each task should allow the child to feel successful. For example having them wash 3 cups instead of 9.
You can branch out into the community. You can both follow their interests as to what they would want to volunteering in as well as expose them to new topics:
for example locally: new or on going project volunteering in soup kitchens, gardening, packing food for ones town
globally:supplies clothes for people around the world, set up online fund raising account
volunteering while vacationing
Connecting in taking care of one self as well as others structure the child to learn and understand that we can stretch out our Love as one big earth family.
I am very grateful I was able to receive an invitation to attend the United Nations Academic Impact(UNAI) – START/Amrita University Conference on Technology for Sustainable Development.
The conference was held on July 8th at the United Nations. There were faculty and research delegates, from 93 universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Stanford which have partnered for the cause.
The chancellor of Amrita University, Amma, discussed about the connection between Science and Spirituality and how to "reconcile ancient spiritual wisdom and modern technology for societal transformation":
Afterwards many researchers showcased their university's research projects.
At the end of the conference, I signed my personal statement with my intention to collaborate on research-and-development efforts with the specific aim of providing humanitarian relief and furthering the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This made me think of how as teachers we line up to state and nation goals. I also feel to further impact we can work towards lining up to international goals.
The world is surrounded by many glorious sights and compassionate actions; it is all surrounded with the necessity for more awareness.
As new trends and new ideas arises some children around the world have been conditioned or have experienced violence through personal, environmental, political, media, family, and worldly misunderstandings. Still children are resilient to learning yet require tender care. As educators all these weeds can be composted to create a new fertile ground in which the child can plant seeds of peace for a new future.
“Ahimsa” is sanskrit for nonviolence/compassion. Ahimsa means to practice nonviolence in thought, words actions. It is to create harmony in our thought, words, and actions. To create peaceful actions, children first need to learn to rehearse nonviolence in their thoughts. Nurturing peace in our minds and feeling love in our heart we can create a patient awareness for what is not understood. As children begin to do this practice they create a resiliency towards their own negative thoughts transforming them into positive thoughts and the ability to self-regulate. They learn to go deeper into their psychic order (body and mind) and inner spiritual planes.
As educators we must learn to find our own compassion and translate that in our classrooms. We must role model compassion in our environment towards all staff, teachers, administrators, visitors, children, plants, and materials. This will allow the children to feel and see the love we have towards one another and respect towards all things.
In the classroom we can observe the spirit/soul of the child through his or her joy. We can assist them in learning to develop a love for themselves and nurture an interest towards their culture. As this love develops they can also learn about other cultures. We can overview the whole earth and discuss how we are all unique individuals from different cultures and all live in one world. Thus we are citizens of the world and our culture is love. Our home is earth it sustains us and we must also take care of it and give back.
“So long as you breathe the free air of earth, you are under obligation to render grateful service.” (Sangha, 2015)
Children authentically understand how to live in their free will. As we provide opportunities to discovery cultures and to respect one another, children will freely develop a love for humanity and create peace consciousness. In all, I wish to anchor children into their own spirit of love while helping them to develop a universal love for mankind.
A. Sangha. (2015). Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda - free, original 1946 Edition. Retrieved fromhttp://www.ananda.org/autobiography/#chap12
Lace, L. (2012, November 20). Amma: an example of compassion and love towards beings. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/lV6J7eOC-K0
UNESCO. (2013, March 4). A look at journeys to school, around the world. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/MxBfqd639BE
who is the “child?”
The child is our present, the child is our future. To behold a child is to behold one of life’s beautiful creations. Their innocence, their intrique, their newness created in each moment. The child’s spirit is deeply connected to living and experiencing life and to loving him or herself. Watching his or her hands or observing a ladybug. Each moment is a discovery filled with wonder and awe. Through spending time in nature they continue to unfold that which is already awakened within themselves and to me they are one of the most precious connections to source energy/ pure love.
As an eduator of “the child” it means to receive a gift. To gently go through the layers of wrapping paper until you get to the child. You learn to get to child through observation.This can be seen as the child learns to find him or her self or as Maria Montessori discussed when they reach “normalization”. When the educator provides the environment for the child to develop self-discipline through listening to his or her inner self, the child will have developed will. This will and faith gives them the building blocks of creating success.
Consistant guidance to allow the individual to develop his or her talents, character and to grown in their development, at his or her own pace while learning the environment around them is the task of educator. The body, mind and spirit of the child are one unit and all these should be a platform for viewing the child.
As we demonstrate love and respect thorough our words of encouragement and kind actions, we allow “the child” to be seen and heard. As we allow children the space to listen to their inner motivation we are allowing them to see and hear themselves. This ability to see themselves will give children the focus to see solutions so that they can better understand their abilities and bring out their treasures .
As children grown and we guide them to appreciate the environment through the care of themselves, the materials, classmates and the world, they learn to be grateful for what they have.
To see, learn and understand the child we must also see and honor pure love within us and as we continue to open our hearts to love, observe, and guide “the child” we will continue to hear the call to honor and cultivate life.
This week Heron enjoyed transfering the 10 kukui nuts to the plate. As he began to put the kukui nut in the appropriate circle I stood back. He was having some challenges holding the tongs. Then I heard him say “I can do this” a few second later he grabbed the kukui nut and exalted “I did it!”. He continued on with much focus. From a distance I smiled internally. Heron is new to Montessori and is learning how to do things independently. At the moment he is in the sensitive period of order. As he repeats the lessons over an over he develops a sense of safety as well as a sense of space. As he repeat the lesson he constructing his brain to develop patterns.
I also presented the lesson of dry transfer and dry transfer with a spoon. He then practiced these lessons. As I observed Heron I thought about how he will continue to benefit from the Montessori method. I also wonder how Maria Montessori felt as she observed her first child or children. I think about how her method inspire children towards things such order, respect, independence and peace.
As we come close to September 21 international day of Peace. I think about a more global perspective. It was nice to learn that during Montessori’s time she put a lot of time and effort into supporting the “Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Rights of the Child. Currently all countries except for Somalia and the United States of America have agreed the law:
“The Convention states that every child has the same rights:
the right to a childhood (which includes protection from harm)
the right to be educated (which includes all girls and boys completing primary school)
the right to be healthy (which includes having clean water, nutritious food and medical care)
the right to be treated fairly (which includes changing laws and practices that are unfair on children)
the right to be heard (which includes considering children's views)”
These rights are something that I agree with as well and something I feel will observe that children have equal opportunity towards.
Montessori, M. (2013) Montessori model united nations. Retrieved from http://montessori-mun.org/why-mmun/maria-montessori/