When discussing the strategic plan for Amazing Grace Kids, one word that surfaced in our description of the school was “Oasis.” Defined as: “a small,fertile or green area in a desert region, usually having a spring or well. something serving as a refuge, relief, or pleasant change from what is usual,”* the sense was that Amazing Grace Kids is a place where children, families and staff find refuge.
This oasis of time and space was evident at Explorers last week. Magda and Janet had set up a large piece of cardboard on which they planned to have the children make a marble run, by taping up cardboard tubes through which a marble would travel using gravity. The cardboard they used happened to have a square hole in it that intrigued one three-year-old girl who set about on the self-imposed task of covering it with black tape. She cut piece after piece of tape, which curled into long ringlets. She straightened each piece and placed them in parallel lines, covering the hole completely. As she worked carefully and steadily, there was a meditative sense of being outside of time, of working on a project that had meaning and purpose for her.
As the teachers observed her, we talked about how this type of activity can not happen in a classroom where the day is broken up into short periods of time. Entering into a meaningful, challenging task requires a protected oasis of space, time, materials and permission to explore. And it requires flexibility on the part of the teaching staff, to allow children to veer away from the original plan to something of equal or even greater value.
In our fast-paced world, this was an oasis for the child and her teachers, a pleasant change from what is usual.