Spring is such an exciting time in our work with children.  The hosta plant that seemed dead over the winter now needs cutting back to stop it from overflowing onto our pathway.

Strawberries are turning red.  Peas are ready for picking and eating.  The worms have powered right through the compost we feed them and have made us some rich, beautiful, (stinky) soil for our tomatoes.

The caterpillars we watched made chrysalides and then emerged as Painted Lady butterflies.  We could hold them and feed them molasses water on a q-tip.  Watching closely, we could see their proboscis unfurl and suck the juice .  How amazing to witness this from so close up.

The children are growing too.  This is a fun time to look back through their journals or their books that they started years ago.  We see the progressions.  “Wow–here you were just starting to write your name”.   “Look how I used to spell pizza before I knew!”  “My drawings were scribble scrabble weren’t they?”

It is time for reflection.  Funny to hear a 5 year old say “back when I was a kid”, but it is true.  They have changed enormously.

At this time of the year Joan and I are gathering photos and drawings from the children’s portfolios.  We enjoy this process for all of the children but especially for those children who have been with us for three years.  We see them transform right before our eyes from almost toddlers to these amazing five-year-olds who are competent, confident and ready to move on.

On the child’s last day at Chrysalis they are each given a stone and a shell.  The stone is full of wishes as we pass it around the circle and everyone adds a special wish for the child to keep.  The shell symbolizes our school.  I remind them of the hermit crab who needs to find a new shell as it grows.  Chrysalis is like a shell.  It is a safe and protective place to learn and grow and try out new things.  And when you are older, you move to a bigger shell.

Kindergarten is in a bigger school.  Still safe, but larger, and a little less nurturing.  Children may be expected to go down the hall to use the bathroom.  There will be more times when the teacher makes decisions for the children.  Probably a little less snuggling and laps to sit on.

But because the children have gotten what they need as three, four and five year olds, they are ready for this.  They try on a bigger shell.  Put on their wings and fly away.  So many metaphors for growing up a bit.  It is such a delight to be a part of this for so many children and their families.ImageImage

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