During the first month of school we focus our curriculum on building community. It is at the heart of everything we do. We set up opportunities for the children to play, work and get to know one another.
We ask the children:
- How do we want to be together at Opal School?
- What does it feel like to be a part of a community?
- What does community mean?
- What should it feel like, sound like, be like?
Then we look, listen and feel for those moments between children and adults. We find them, celebrate and savor them.
Those moments happen over and over throughout the day between all of the children. The remarkable thing is to be able to capture them and then reflect them back to the children. We want them to see themselves in action, to carry images of themselves living the ways that they say they want to be with one another.
Below is one of those moments captured in Opal 2 between S (a second grader) and M (a first grader).
M: I can't get my hair just right to play the part of the bride.
S: Here I can help you, remember I'm your friend who helps you get ready.
S: I'll just carefully push your hair back behind your ears and then you'll look the part.
M: Oh, that will look so nice.
S: Then for your headband and you'll be ready to play.
M: Thank you friend, I needed your help to feel all ready.
When moments like these, that happen everyday, get appreciated, reocgnized and highlighed as real important work that happens at school it allows a whole community of children to generate a list like this of how they want to be together:
N age 8: It's like (the child) is the flower who is feeling so beautiful and it trusts the community so it can bloom. The flower will wilt if it is sad and then it won't bloom.
C age 6: Yeah, if we do all these things our community gets better everyday.