5 Years Deep!

2nd blog post, I guess this is a sign of how busy it gets working with children. Five years deep into working at Sweet Pea. Each year is different, and each year I learn something new. This fifth year has been uniquely challenging (in a good way) for me. I find myself repeating to myself (As I do to the children) the areas that are hard and out of our comfort zone are the areas that we are growing in. One thing in particular that has been challenging, is the subject of who’s right and who’s wrong. We find that our daily activities and adventures set the stage for presenting a “handful” of problems. Children at the preschool age, in particular, are not as always “skilled” or “equipped” to successfully handle certain problems. These could extend to areas as little as how to properly play with a stick, to who had the shovel first. We find on adventures problems being presented as to “how do we safely cross this log”, or “is the ice stable enough for us to walk on”, and “if we get our boots wet will our feet feel happy later on today”. These are just a few examples of problem-solving that we touch on at school each day, and seriously, I mean seriously the list could go on and on.  As a teacher you are constantly guiding with language, example, and contemplating on do we allow a natural consequence to happen or do we step in at this point. We do this based upon safety and growth. We teach the children problem-solving skills in hope that one day they will successfully be able to problem-solve in a healthy way.  Beyond everything we teach, kindness and problem-solving are two of our underlining themes.  I can’t help but feel a little defeated when I head out into the real world and see adults who choose to not solve problems in a healthy manner (being a matter of my perspective).  I guess it’s true what they say, “everything you need to know you learned in preschool.” This is where I start to remember that word “growth”. Things that are out of our comfort, that are challenging for us. Walking around in nature “literally” all day you stop and observe the little things. Tracks that lead into a den. Nests that have been hiding behind leaves all summer, and now they present themselves to you on these crisp winter days. A young aspen tree that has been rubbed by a buck’s antlers, but over time has covered and healed it’s wound. Of course the winters in the northwest Rockies can be harsh, and not only does it make for a more challenging year being an “outdoor school”, but for nature itself. Patience… Patience with teaching and guiding children, patients with the adults in the world (who we may not always see eye to eye with), and something that we all need and learn is patience with ourselves. We can solve these problems with a little kindness and patience, and then we will have growth and that is always an amazing thing! Here’s to a patient winter~

“Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy Holidays Everyone!




From then ‘til now, one year at Sweet Pea!

I’m the type of person that when I feel like I have a good idea, I listen to my gut and go with it…That’s exactly how Sweet Pea was created. I woke up one morning and said, “I could turn my bedroom into a classroom”, and I did. (Well with the help of family and friends of course.) It was the same way that we found our little house on Sweet Lane. My husband’s family and I were driving out to the Swan Range to pick huckleberries, and we were talking about how we really like the east side of the Flathead Valley. We had been looking for a house to buy for about a month over in the Kila area, and hadn’t had any luck. We decided to take a little detour that day and followed a real estate sign down a road named Sweet Lane. I took one look around and said “I love it, I want it” and guess what, we bought it!

It’s amazing how life works, Sweet Pea pretty much just fell into my lap. The way this school has developed and grown, I have often felt that it has been somewhat out of my hands. Everything that has been created here has been so purposeful. It is shaped by something that I can’t quite describe with words.  I truly believe that what transpires here, with the children playing, learning, and engaging with nature is nothing short but “Magical”.  I often tell people it’s just like in the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it they will come”.

We all are becoming aware of the rising need of connecting children with nature. You can’t help but read articles or see posts about the sad condition called “Nature deficit Disorder”.  Where children spend more time inside playing video games, or watching television causing a number of behavioral problems. They say that the average child spends 44 hours a week on electronic media, and how much time are they spending outside?

Earth is our home, our planet and if we don’t have knowledge, and passion, and an understanding of how things live and survive then how will we know how to take care of it. You can’t raise a puppy, or even more so a child without knowing what type of needs and care that they need. The same goes for our world. It is up to us to protect, love, and cherish each little ecosystem, each habitat, and each life that grows and lives here.

This is my belief and this is my goal, and that is why Sweet Pea was created. I have been so thankful for the area that I live in. There are so many parents that enjoy taking their children outdoors, that would rather let them get dirty and play outside then sit inside playing video games all day.  Thank you, thank you for knowing what is important and taking the time. I wouldn’t have such a loving community of children without you!20160616_154805

-Rachelle Laster