On Fridays, each family brings in healthy (nut-free!) food to share for picnic. We love it!
We start with fifteen seconds of silence in which one child counts in their head while everyone else is quiet and calm. This is a time to reflect on those less fortunate, and be thankful for the yummy food we are going to share and for the company of friends, and also helps create a calm atmosphere for eating and sharing.
We love going on excursions at Pine! Whether it’s a trip to the museum, our annual end-of-year trek to Wet n Wild, or simply a Friday afternoon picnic in the park, we love to get out and about in the community. While excursions have a specific educational purpose, they also have a deliberate social purpose, as they help us to learn together, develop friendships and get to know parents as educational partners (parents are such fantastic mentors to not just their children, but to all the children at Pine).
Circle is an important time of the day at Pine Community School. We start each morning all together, reflecting that we are a (multi-age) community. Circle is a time to share news or objects from home, sing songs, listen to stories or poems, or share interesting trivia facts. A different child leads circle every day, and this child is also responsible for choosing a morning game (non-competitive, indoor or outdoor).
Both circle and game are designed as opportunities for children to listen to each other and co-operate as a team.
Whole School Meeting and Democratic Process
Thursday mornings instead of circle we have whole-school meeting – a very special, important time. Meetings are run by the children, and are a democratic forum for children to raise issues about how the school is run, social situations and challenges, make and review rules, and decide on ideas for excursions or projects. All items and decisions are recorded in the minutes book by the children (in pictures and words), who are skilled at chairing meetings, setting agendas and taking minutes. We try and make Thursday meetings more a focus for the children’s issues, although parents and teachers can raise issues also. (Parent council meetings and general parent meetings are held monthly to ensure that parents are also fully involved in the decisions made at the school).
The culture of a democratic school is one that values children’s voices, teaching them that they have the right to be heard, as well as the responsibility to listen. Like many child-centred learning environments, there is the expectation that children’s concerns be taken seriously. Whole school meeting is a symbol of this belief, but the spirit of democracy pervades all our activities, curriculum and pedagogy. By giving children a voice, we empower them to be responsible for their learning, social behaviour and environment.
We have a number of much-looked-forward-to days each year at Pine, such as Crazy Hair Day, Pajama Day, Pet Parade and Our Town.