First Day School Annual Report 2019/2020:
First Day School hosted two "mindfulness in nature" summer camps in June and July, bringing together two batches of a dozen kids each who climbed and explored every inch of our grounds while taking in lessons about centering, community and Quaker values. All this energy fueled Third Haven's Family Open House on September 21, which welcomed twenty children and their families. Everyone enjoyed a kid-friendly supper, then the children scampered off with teachers for a dusk-time bug hunt while parents engaged with our guest speaker, PYM's Melinda Wenner Bradley, to discuss "How to Raise your Children in the Light".
The fall schedule for First Day School offered a regular rotation of themes: nature seekers (Cherie Baron and Kristen Hanlon), Queries and Reflections (Jeanne Halpin), and Faith & Play stories (Susan Claggett). In addition, other Meeting members shared their talent, passions, and time including puppetry with Kevin Walsh, Marilla's Lunches with Cynthia Quast, and Climate Change with Dona Sorce. As is our custom, the Christmas season was filled with the traditions of wreath-making for the Meeting buildings, telling of the Christmas story, and our Christmas Pageant (this year featuring the Virdee/Whalen family as the Holy Family).
First Day School also continued this fall our popular outreach program, Little SPICES. The six-week session seeks to give parents genuine opportunities to center and connect with their babies and toddlers. From October 18 through November 22, with a special nighttime dinnertime potluck session on November 8th, the program offered themes and discussion for each class will be based upon key Quaker values of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Stewardship (SPICES).
In the spring, we added in series led by Kulveen Virdee and Lisa Kluepfel called Peacemakers. Every lesson the children added a new tool for their toolbox of techniques for understanding and managing their emotions. Faith & Play evolved into Godly Play stories with Susan, with the goal of building Bible story literacy among our children. Unfortunately, First Day School and Little SPICES offerings were cut short by COVID-19. This change, however, gave us the opportunity to join West Chester Meeting in their virtual First Day School offerings, and eventually to host our own lessons through Zoom.
In June, First Day School will help honor young Meeting members who are "Moving Up" in their education. The Ceremony will be held virtually with gifts from the Meeting sent to each child (Maeve Mufson, Nathan Mullen, and Atticus Leibman). Also, led by Dee Rein, First Day School has a summertime activity for kids (and kids at heart) of the Meeting. Based on the Flat Stanley children's books, all will be invited to take cardboard cutouts of Margaret Fell and George Fox on a summertime treasure hunt, looking for places where they see Quaker values and ideals. This project is organized by PYM's Faith & Play group, and First Day School will be sharing photos from everyone in the weekly announcements.
Additionally, First Day School was asked to join a planning group that is helping to form a Resource Friend practice area for Religious Education and Youth Work for PYM. Further, our First Day School spoke at a Religious Education and Youth Work Thread Gathering at the Wilmington Meeting in December. Finally, we have fielded requests for information and ideas to other Meetings within PYM to help grow other children's programming.
In summary, First Day School successfully attracted about 5-12 kids weekly, Little SPICES was at capacity with 14 children, and each summer camp (June and July) was enjoyed by 12 kids.
First Day School Clerks wish to thank the Meeting for the abundance of love, support, time and guidance. So many young lives have been touched because of you.