A strong, nuanced sense of self and a nervous system that can roll with life's ups and downs
are the best assets any child can have- but you're not likely to find these subjects
on their school curriculum.
Children who know themselves and their reactions will be better equipped
to navigate any terrain they find themselves in. And it's up to parents to provide it.
That's why I created The Circle.
The Circle is a nature- and craft- oriented
class where kids will have fun immersing themselves
in wonder of nature* and leting that wonder inspire them
as they draw, paint, weave, write, sew, and more.
At a deeper level, though, they'll also be deepening their self-awareness, expanding their social-emotional toolboxes, and beginning to understand their nervous systems.
*for virtual students, this may take the form of independent exploration and sometimes a bit of foraging before class!
The Circle is a space to explore:
• social cues
• regulation tools
• & more
Through the practice of:
• guided meditation
• & more
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.
The healing powers of nature are well studied and documented. Kids who get to spend more time in nature tend to be happier and healthier, with more resilient nervous systems, better digestion, better memories, and more energy, among other benefits. It's not a stretch to see how these benefits would translate to healthier relationships and a greater ability to overcome adversity.
A critical distinction for The Circle- and what makes it possible to have an online option- is that we won't just be in nature or just learning about nature, we'll be connecting to nature at a deep level.
In other words, we'll be making the transformative leap from seeing nature as something 'other' to experiencing it as part of ourselves.
Here are a few of the ways students will do that whether outside together or connecting through screens:
• tracking experience throughout moon phases to see if or how they affect us
• exploring the web of correlations found in ancient perspectives on the seasons and elements
• intuiting the symbolic language of the animals and plants that cross our paths
• sitting and 'listening' for the voices of trees and stones
• becoming aware of the complex webs of cooperation that underly any environment
• practicing body-centric intelligence as compared to mind-centric
• foraging for materials and giving something back in exchange
• learning about the indigenous people/s of their area and how they live/d
• experiencing the shifting energies of the seasons
• observing cosmological phenomena like the solstices and equinoxes
• trying on the role of 'environmental steward'
Ideally, online students will have ready access to a yard or park, but I'll find work arounds if that isn't the case. After all- the kids with the least access to the outdoors are the ones who need it the most.
Practices like those listed above multiply the benefits of nature by weaving us
back into the land that supports us and letting us experience ourselves as glorious microcosms of everything we find there.
Wonder and compassion for nature expands our capacity for wonder and compassion
for humanity- including ourselves.
I'm the single mom of a 13 year-old girl who I homeschooled/ unschooled/ earthschooled from the beginning of kindergarten to the end of 6th grade (and who will be joining me as TA for some of the in-person classes). Throughout that time, I also taught weekly math and history to mixed age groups in our local homeschooling community.
Always, my goal was to curate special experiences that would kindle my students' internal motivation to learn, rather than moving them through an external, arbitrary list of objectives that would have no value to the kids and be instantly forgotten. I wanted them to feel good about my classes- not for my own ego (okay, maybe just a little ; ) but because feeling good is an often-overlooked basis for feeling comfortable enough to experiment and safe enough to venture out of comfort zones.
I didn't have this language at the time, but on some level I already knew: a dysregulated nervous system is a huge obstacle to any kind of learning.
After completing two years of herbalism and earth stewardship education- and observing the sharp emotional toll of divorce on my daughter- I began to create space for an even deeper kind of education, leading camps and weekend workshops that wove together myths and crafts, wonder for nature and our selves and each other, with games and songs and healthy sprinklings of magic.
Now that I work with women to heal their wounded emotional bodies- wounds that tend to be decades old- I've come back to the idea that started me on this path: what if we never lost our magic in the first place? What if, instead of finally appreciating ourselves in our 30s, 40s, 50s...... never.... what if radical, humble self-acceptance had been an indisputable fact of our adolescence and young adulthood the whole time? What if, alongside our moments of transcendence and humiliation, our heartbreaks and bad hair days, the failures and traumas we thought we'd never come back from, the successes we thought we'd never top- what if we'd had the knowledge that we're lovable and amazing and so is everyone else?
Whatever my shortcomings as a mother, I know that at least I'm giving my daughter the tools and the freedom to
These are the questions that inform The Circle. And I can't wait to meet the families who are as moved by them as I am.
A mother-daughter workshop circa 2017