I sent my daughter off to school today. This a big milestone, both for parents and for children, a definitive and culturally recognized step down her spiral path. I delivered her into the care of strangers -- her first time to be supervised by someone unfamiliar. The week before we read books about going to school and I parceled out the treat of PBS shows on the same theme. We talked about it. On her first day I said encouraging things, told her I’d be back, and assured her that she’d have a wonderful time. And yet, she cried when I walked away. Of course she cried. She’s been in my energy field her whole life, and then I forced her to take a step that perhaps none of us would take willingly: a step away from the comforts of home into a strange new world.
(I must say, in today’s age of modern technology I certainly wished that her teachers could have sent me a text to let me know that she stopped crying. They can’t, of course, I understand that. And she stopped quickly, I’m told. Still, I worried until the first hour passed without a phone call.)
She has begun her hero’s journey, and I find it appropriate that my daughter attends a forest kindergarten. Her step away from me was not into the metaphorical woods of adventure, but instead into the twelve acres of literal woods that surround her small schoolhouse. She’ll spend all day outside, rain or shine (and in our climate, it’s mostly shine), hot or cold. Her age group (pre-school) does not require a rigorous academic curriculum, which means that she’ll spend her structured periods doing activities like story time, gardening, art projects, and animal care (chickens, rabbits, guinea pig, etc). The rest of the time she will enjoy unstructured play.