August began with the National Nature-Based Preschool Conference, at Dodge Nature Center in St Paul, MN, August 15 – 17. I was pleased to present, and to have worked on the planning committee. The setting was amazing – filled with nature, growing crops, animals, colleagues and new friends from across the country. My presentation to these early childhood educators focused on the connection between spiritual development of young children and nature, with a new twist. I chose not use a PowerPoint, and participants reported that they were able to use their own thoughts and images to absorb these concepts, rather than those I might have chosen for them. This was an important lesson for me to learn.
Before the workshop was over, I invited everyone to use recycled bottles to make their own Nattles. I think it was a successful time for all.
On August 23, I offered a workshop sponsored by The St. Paul Talmud Torah and St Paul Public Schools, to which both parents and educators were invited to hear about and explore children’s development in relationship to Streams of Living and Learning (science, technology, reading/responsibility/respect, engineering/ecology/environment, art, math, and spiritual development). On January 2, I’ll do a follow-up workshop with a Jewish lens superimposed upon children’s living and learning.
On August 24, I did a short presentation to The Aleph Preschool educators of Beth El Synagogue. Together we explored the connection between nature and spiritual development, as the educators took their first steps towards beginning the new school year. I plan to return in January to keep the conversation alive.
Finally, on August 28 in Orange County, California, I joined my husband, Jeffrey, as we retold the story of Rabbi Abahu’s shining face. The next day, I worked directly with Jewish early childhood educators as we explored the idea of spiritual development for young Jewish children. Both events were sponsored by the Jewish Federation and Family Services of Orange County, California.