Tea Time at Aspen Grove: A Community Ritual
Aspen Grove is a small preschool, located in Nederland, CO, a former mining town tucked into the mountains just to the west of Boulder.
One 2016-2017 graduate student teacher and one mentor in the Boulder Journey School Teacher Education Program are members of a community of teachers and children who participate in a daily ritual called “Tea Time.”
During Tea Time, all members of the school community gather around the fireplace, located in the center of the school. Each person is offered a small cup of herbal tea, and a candle is lit. Children participate in all aspects of the preparation, including heating the water, choosing the tea flavor, and choosing books to read together. While the tea is enjoyed, everyone chats and stories are read. As the children finish their tea and feel ready for nap, they excuse themselves to find their mats.
Rituals can be defined as special actions that help us navigate emotionally important events or transitions in our lives as well as enhance aspects of our daily routines to deepen our connections and relationships. (Gillespie & Petersen, 2012, p.76)
This daily ritual is an important part of Aspen Grove’s culture, and supports the children’s cognitive, physical, and social development in complex ways. The taste and scent of the tea, along with the physical warmth, serve as signals that it’s time to relax for nap. The children’s natural rhythms are respected, as they are empowered to head to the nap room when they are ready. In addition, the social aspects of this ritual deepen the school community members’ connections with one another.
So often transitions are viewed as times to simply “get through”; this story can serve as a reminder to us all to celebrate the opportunities for learning, development, and community-building that are present in every moment throughout a day.
Tea Time is a reminder of the special nature of transition times.
- What are the rituals that are unique to your classrooms and school?
- How are they indicative of the cultural identity of your school community?
- What are ways to build upon and share these unique moments that make your school special?
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