An Environment Must Be Fit for the Brave and Curious Spirits of Children
Artenia Beast believes an environment should greet each child with an abundance of possibility. Rather than corral children through scheduled activities, we make an offering of spaces, supplies, time, and hearty encouragement so that children can invent, explore, and chase grand ideas. These environments include:
An Artist's Studio: Anchored by a 15 foot long paint wall, the artist's studio is outfitted with easels, a buffet of artist tools and supplies, and tables where each child may create. Gallery space for our young artists is also available on walls and shelves.
The Science Lab: The laboratory balances the introduction of thrilling scientific artifacts with the opportunity for self-directed experimenting. Balances, bones, mortars, pestles, and chemicals safe for the young scientist fill the shelves. Weekly, our resident scientists introduce new and mysterious substances on our sensory tables and set up exploration stations where children discern the principles of magnetism, gravity, and such.
The Author's Corner: We do love a fine story at Artenia Beast! Our carefully selected library of books features strong girls and boys and reflects the diversity of experience on our planet. Children may also hone the fine motor skills that lead to writing in the appropriate years. Of course, the telling of stories is a dearly valued skill and our resident transcribers ensure the glorious tales the children have to tell are not lost in the ether simply because they cannot yet shape their letters.
Dramatic Play: Our young actors are greeted with the costumes and props fitting their dedication to the art of theater. Our loft provides for an elevated stage. As subject matter tips to a focus on domestic dramas, sets include wooden kitchens and nursery equipment.
Construction Zone: Blocks, ramps, tracks, roadways, pipes, and scaffolds invite the endless creation and inevitable destruction of buildings and villages. A magnetize ball run and the introduction of new materials ensure our young architects and engineers are ever challenged in the raising of new structures.
The Outside: Artenia Beast is firmly of the belief that there is no terrible weather, only terrible clothing. Children must be in nature daily and explore the wonder of wind, rain, heat, and seasons. The outdoor play space beckons with logs to climb, mud pies to make, hills to crest, and holes to dig. Sadly, we have inherited a play yard that looks rather post apocalyptic. In the months ahead, we are dedicated to the expansion and renovation of this space into a natural play scape similar to those first encountered by Artenia in the southern villages of Norway.
Strict Philosophies Can Be So Insufferable
In her world travels, Artenia has met with the great thinkers of the world, including those who ponder deeply the education of the young child. Artenia shared a lovely codfish with Rudolf Steiner over a conversation on the unfolding spirit of the 4 year old. She sanded pine blocks with Maria Montessori as they celebrated the child's need for meaningful and joyous work. In Reggio Emilia, Italy, Artenia had the fine luck of working with 15 toddlers to construct a city wide string and tin can telephone system.
While Artenia deeply respects each of these thinkers, she herself refuses formal adherence to any one philosophy. She has found that as soon as she takes a firm position on the doing of things along comes a child to challenge this very system.
Therefore, Artenia commits to respecting each child tremendously, offering new experiences constantly, and resisting all notions that narrow the possibilities of a day or a child.
There is No Such Thing as Toys for Girls and Toys for Boys.
How eager our culture is to turn our girls into princesses and our boys into soldiers. Artenia Beast will absolutely not have with this notion. Her teachers and her environments ensure that each child knows that being a boy or a girl is just one small biological fact that says about as much about her or him as height or weight or shape of nose. Of course, we will not deny play, but we shall open up possibility and our stock of princess props shall be balanced with proper adventuring costumes. We are also vigilant in ensuring that half the heroes in our stories are girls and women.
We nurture gentleness, the ability to care for baby or friend, courage, problem solving, and adventure having in each and every child.
The Twenty Four Essential Life Skills
Artenia Beast is of the belief that kindergarten ready means a child is nearing 5 and still quite in love with learning. Just because we can teach a 3 year old phonics does not mean it is the essential work of that year for that child's brain, body, and spirit. This does not mean Artenia does not share and celebrate the art of writing and the clever world of numbers. It does mean she will not drill it to the point of misery. We make a fine offering of the experience and let the child take it up following her or his own will.
Artenia has defined her own list of 24 Essential Life Skills. You can expect offerings of joyful experience and instruction in the following areas over the course of the year(s):
The assembly of tents and forts
The art of successfully foraging for nuts and berries
The proper greeting of wild beasts
The techniques of introducing oneself to royalty in cultures throughout the world
The fundamentals of traditional dances from each continent
The making of a proper breakfast
The crossing of swift rivers
The essential knots and basic rope work
The creation of tapestries
Hat making for all climates
The art of fencing (foam sword of course)
The keys to surviving arctic conditions
The fundamental engineering principles of structure building
The protocols for a fine somersault
The basics of calming one's spirit with yoga, breathing, brisk walks, and the singing of song at the top of one's lungs
The treatment of wounds and illness and the fine art of making-it-better
The steps to growing and tending a bountiful garden
The identification and respecting of birds and insects
The fundamentals of treasure hunting
An introduction to archery with handmade bows and foam arrows
The protocols for the safe conducting of thrilling scientific experiments
An understanding of the basics of the following artistic mediums and genres: sketching, clay work, painting, sewing, woodwork, weaving, print making, dyeing, music making, singing, acting, and set construction.
The telling of a rousing tale