WEEK 16 “From Under Our Big Tree” NEWSLETTER: 7 to 9 Class (Spotlight on the Whole Child: Physical Development)

All Together - 7 to 9 Class
“Nothing happens until something moves.”
― Albert Einstein
Dear Community,This week we are focusing on one of the aspects of how learning comes to life at The Knowing Garden: Honoring the Whole Child. There are specific details about the 7 to 9 downstairs class a little further below.

We believe that as children begin each day with us, it is our responsibility and privilege to acknowledge the whole child that walks into our school each morning. We think about how we can recognize the cognitive, social, emotional and physical needs of each individual and optimize their learning. This optimal state for learning is one of relaxed alertness. Achieving and maintaining that state can be difficult for all of us as we are always being bombarded by external stimuli, bodily sensations and emotions. Knowing this, at TKG we strive to create opportunities for physical stimulation and release that can help students to feel regulated and ready to take on learning explorations. Each classroom offers unique opportunities to help students listen to and know their bodies and state of being.

This is a taste of what the downstairs class offers to students in support of physical development.  All of the materials are freely available and anything related to stepping outside of the classroom is just an ask away. When choosing what types of materials or activities to offer to help children tune into their bodies, we think about the senses:

  • Taste- For calming and rehydration, a team of students makes a refreshing pitcher of “spa water”
  • which is cold water and a fruit cut up and squeezed inside. Snack is also always available if students need a quick nibble in between more formal meal times
  • Smell- A diffuser with organic oils like peppermint or lavender is turned on intermittently during the day to calm or energize our space
  • Tactile-Kinetic sand, rainbow loom bands, magnets and silly puddy are all stocked in at our ”Peace Table”,
  • Inside big body movement- If students are feeling the need to expend some energy or are needing a release from sustained concentration, we have a giant 4 x 6 foot “Flopping pillow” (courtesy of the Stickley family) that students can flop onto.  It is great fun to fall backwards into it or body slam onto to it! 
  • Big body  movement – Every day, for 30 minutes, students enjoy the fresh air and sunshine outside in our courtyard and yard with swinging, tetherball, jumpropes and rock tag. The lower courtyard where we now do P.E. is home to our new kickball court. Once this time is over, students are free to choose to go back outside for up to the 45 minutes at free-choice Deep Learning time.
  • Often, we’ll have impromptu freeze dance opportunities to help us wiggle our way back to learning readiness.
  • Who could forget our F.A.C.E time elective of theatre and dance!
In addition to these classroom offerings, we also have our Monday Field Day experiences and our Tuesday/Thursday Physical Education time with Max. We know that for children, up to age 10 is the golden age when the  brain experiences the most neuroplasticity. (learn more in Joann Deak’s book Fantastic Elastic Brain). One of the factors that supports neuroplasticity is physical exercise.On Field Day the students experience at least 3 hours of free physical play- running, jumping, throwing, climbing, skipping .  There are also at least 30 minutes of a guided, physical skill building experience like learning to play a sport or playing physical team building games.

Max, offers some reflections on P.E.:

My Physical Education time with the students has been going great this year! We started off the year with a focus on basic movements, like the squat, the plank, the push up, &, of course, burpees!. These kids can get DEEP in the squats! Oh, to have young knees again! After developing a bit of awareness of their bodies, we’ve begun to focus on coordination, balance and team work. We have been doing bi-lateral work as well. For example, we’ve done movements like walking while balancing a cone on the head (balance of external object), bopping a balloon through hoops (coordination, agility, and balance), cone drills (speed, agility, lateral movement and memory) as well as working through a few team events like untying the human knot(communication, balance, coordination, and flexibility).  We’ve also worked a little bit of getting in sync or “together” as a team using my camera phone to check if everyone in class is, indeed, “jumping” at the same time!

As a final fun note, we’ve also been starting to explore the actual muscles and bones of the body. They’ve already learned about the following body parts: the cranium, sternum, ribs, cranium, spine, vertebrae, femur, and clavicle (collar bone), as well as biceps, triceps, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, pecs, and of course, the glutes.  It’s been great to be able to mix in a little bit of this anatomy body awareness within our workouts that we do with a playful, “Put your glutes over there!”

Thanks for the honor of letting me a part of the TKG crew!

For our greater community, we host once a month whole school dance parties and occasional mindful moments.  Our sprouts enjoy it when parents join the morning games and we encourage community walks, partner hikes or small group outdoor adventures! What better way to encourage physical activity with your example.

Don’t hesitate to ask any of us for more details on the physical development curriculum. We welcome your feedback.


Lena Garcia, School Builder/7 to 9 Classroom
Elle Schwarz, Co-Teacher, 7 to 9 Classroom
Erin Levin, 7 to 9 Room Parent
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TKG Info

Tending the Garden

***Enrollment Information Night – Thr Jan 29th 7pm
Our first (of two) enrollment night is coming up and we hope you’ll help spread the word.  Pick up some flyers (at the Green Monster) this week and post up at your favorite spots.  To share the registration page, send your friends to THIS LINK.

***Monthly Parent Meeting – Sat Jan 24th 9am
Thank you for taking the time to join us.  This month, we will be reviewing Board business highlights in addition to our parent resources. If you are unable to attend, please let Lena know in advance.

***High School Committee Meeting – Thr Feb 5
Join this ongoing committee that meets to discuss high school transition and will be working on establishing connections with local transfer schools.  Contact Monica for more details.

TKG Principles

  • CONSTRUCTIVISM: teachers and parents provide the trellis on which students will build on their existing knowledge
  • WHOLE CHILD + FAMILY, cognitive, physical and social/emotional capacities are connected – families & caregivers are our partners
  • BRAIN SCIENCE,we are sensory learners with existing neural pathways and we can help develop and practice new learning
  • CAPACITY BUILDING, nurturing creative thinkers who are encouraged to solve problems that serve our community
  • COOPERATIVE LEARNING, small groups, low ratios, mixed ages and generations
Parent Teacher Info

Parent/Teacher Toolbox

PT Schedule for the week

  • WEDNESDAY – RD (LS (AM set up))
  • THURSDAY  (ME (AM set up))
  • FRIDAY (AS(Project), LS (AM set up), TV (PM clean up))…WE NEED a volunteer for (AM Breezeway)

PRINT the most current PT Calendar, here!   Contact Trish with any changes asap.  If a sub (for a full day) is not secured, TKG will arrange for one of the co-teachers to cover and bill the family for $150 for the day.

PT RESOURCE: Don’t Interfere with Free (physical) Play
Did you know, some schools are actually hiring recess “coaches” to teach kids casual games like “tag”?! Gwen Dewar, PhD, the creator or Parenting Science, wonder why: electronic entertainment; city traffic that makes it dangerous for kids to play on the streets or walk to parks; the perception that children must be kept indoors to keep them safe from crime? She offers there may be one another problem:  We are too intrusive and we sap their motivation to take risks.  The case against intrusion is compelling, jump over to Dr. Dewar’s article, here.
Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

  • School Tours, Tours begin this week.
  • Office Hours, Fri Jan 23rd, 9am @ Green Roast Coffee
  • Fundraiser Opportunity -Tue Jan 27th Friends and Family @ Chipotle – from 3:30pm to 7:30pm.  Don’t forget the flyer and contact Shannon with questions.

Thank you Families!  Contact Trish or Monica with any questions or to schedule meeting time.  The most updated calendar is online via our website. PRINT the latest Official Calendar, here. 

The Four Agreements
1. Be Impeccable with your Word
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best

Resource Of The Week – Whole Child + Family

Exercise Is ADHD Medication

At TKG, we create opportunities for physical stimulation and release that can help students to feel regulated and ready to take on learning explorations. Each classroom offers unique opportunities to help students listen to and know their bodies; coupled with Field Day, Crossfit-inspired P.E. and community dance parties, we encourage the flow of oxytocin to achieve relaxed alertness.

Mental exercises to build (or rebuild) attention span have shown promise recently as adjuncts or alternatives to amphetamines in addressing symptoms common to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Building cognitive control, to be better able to focus on just one thing, or single-task, might involve regular practice with a specialized video game thatreinforces “top-down” cognitive modulation, as was the case in a popular paper in Nature last year. Cool but still notional. More insipid but also more clearly critical to addressing what’s being called the ADHD epidemic is plain old physical activity.

Read more about the report focusing on research that found kids who took part in a regular physical activity program showed important enhancement of cognitive performance and brain function, @TheAtlantic.

Whole Family - Exercise is Vital to Learning


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