Article by Gabrielle Jonker.

Rudolf Steiner said: “you will not be good teachers if you focus only on what you do and not upon who you are”.

The Flower Valley Early Childhood Development Programme believes that the inner work of a teacher, teaching assistant and field worker is fundamental to good quality Early Childhood Development. As part of our work, we are constantly reflecting and growing in our understanding of how to support the growth of ECD professionals as individuals, in order to strengthen their work with young children.

 

At present, one of our methods to facilitate this, is through our Milkwood Nurture Teachers Retreats.

These retreats take place in a natural setting away from regular day to day life. Here, teachers are honoured, recognised, and given a safe place to explore their inner worlds in a peaceful environment through planned nurturing activities.

 

Some of the highlights from our June 2018 retreat:

The women arrived at Fynbos Retreat in the beautiful mountains between Stanford and Gansbaai. The retreat started with laughing yoga hosted by a local expert, Lindy Greyling. This type of yoga involved a lot of laughing, allowing the body to secrete feel-good hormones and provided a special time of bonding. It was ended with a morning meditation next to the dam.

Later that day the ladies each got a chance to make their own vision board – a tool used to help clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on a specific life goal. A vision board can help guide or represent whatever you wish to be, do or have in your life. The women found this activity very enriching and it was an excellent place to further grow in the understanding of oneself and each other.

Lindy also provided the group with one-on-one Somachord sessions. A Somachord is an instrument that looks like a wooden bed. Strings are attached to the underside that are all tuned to a specific frequency. Receiving the therapy, one lies on the bed while the instrument is played, allowing for healing sound vibrations to work in one’s heart, body and mind. The feedback from this was exceptional, all participants found this to be an enriching and transforming experience with one participant saying: “I cannot put it into words, so relaxing”.

During the retreat, there was exploration in building a deeper understanding of the power of stories. The women discussed how the stories we tell ourselves and our children regulate our souls, and transform, heal and educate the psyche.

“Stories as healing medicine” will continue to be a theme of our retreats.

The group shared wonderful moments of song sharing as everyone sang together in different mother tongues. Lastly, each person took time to do a personality test and a follow up discussion, which contributed to the team spirit and the on-going collaborative work.

 

Deepening connections, opening doors and letting go

The retreat gave participants time to be quiet and feel the wonder of nature. Both the venue and the activities allowed for quiet solitary and group time in the fynbos and forest ecosystems. As the retreat fell over the winter solstice, the group celebrated by making fires and each teacher writing one thing that they would like to let go of and one thing they would like to bring into their lives. Each teacher, with a deep breath, released their papers into the blazing flames.

These Milkwood Nurture retreats started in 2017. The feedback the ECD programme has received is excellent, we have seen individuals open up and grow in a powerful way. For anyone that is interested in finding out more about this area of our programme, please contact Gabrielle Jonker at gabbi@flowervalley.co.za.