We are fortunate to establish Dragonfly Play School at The Trout Lake Abbey, an organic farm, retreat center and spiritual home to people of all faiths, with a Buddhist temple and Druid Sanctuary on site. The Abbey is a multicultural and interfaith community, steeped in the beauty of nature, art and spiritual iconography. The Mt. Adams Buddhist Temple has generously offered use of a small cabin in the cloistered garden for use as our classroom in this first stage of the school. Dragonfly children will be invited to experience different spiritual/religious spaces and learn about a variety of belief systems. We welcome families of all faiths and believe discussion around these differences is one of the building blocks for raising compassionate, empathetic and tolerant children.
The Classrooms: indoor and out
The Abbey has 23 acres for us to explore—a mix of wild spaces, landscaped gardens, vegetable and herb beds, orchards, chickens, and grassy fields. Nature is our primary classroom and Dragonfly children spend at least three hours (often longer) outside every day. We believe in all weather play, and find rich exploration in all that each season has to offer.
Dragonfly children have extended periods of time for open exploration and uninterrupted play. Our schedule is intentionally paced to give ample time for entering deep imaginative scenarios, and problem solving through multiple iterations of an idea. As teachers, we introduce new materials with prompts and questions- “I wonder what we could build with these long carboard tubes?”, intentionally placing children in the driver seat of creation. We are always close by to help facilitate communication, assist in problem solving through conflicts, or support off track children in shedding difficult emotions, in order to regain their ability to think and play.
With our unique location, come unique play opportunities. Next to our classroom is small, lush evergreen forest, dubbed “the magical forest” by our first cohort of children. Ditches trickling with water and ponds that fill in the spring bring bugs, frogs, snakes, fish, birds and other wildlife encounters. In the winter, picnic tables that normally populate grassy nooks around the Abbey, line up and pile high with snow behind our classroom- making natural ice forts and igloos, or ships to be sailed across open seas. Plowed snow and perfectly sloped driveways, make for ample sledding opportunities. Children watch vegetables gardens turn green in the spring and harvest treats from grape vines and bountiful orchards during harvest season. The Mountain Room, a large open space, hosts our bi-weekly music classes, taught by Jen Harty.
The Abbey is an everchanging environment, filled with both an abundance of nature and art that delights young explorers and sparks fantastic conversations. It is an enchanting place for children, who readily recognize and relish it’s almost magical nature.