In This Circle Girls, finally together!

With our late start, related to many of our girls being on sport teams, and last week's shared class with the be boys, it's taken us awhile for Circle Girls to arrive. I'm happy to report that, as of today, it felt like we finally have. We've arrived! We were able to recognize this good feeling.

My guess is, had you joined us at the end of class, and seen the girls puppy-piled, snuggled with blankets and pillows, you also would have known we've happily found home with one-another.

The girls and I figured out descriptive words that fit our personalities, that also begin with the first letters of our first names. The girls were on point when they came up with words like luminous, amazing, and compassionate. Since we're working with the concept of Speaking Up and Being LOUD this year, we increased the volume when repeating back the supportive descriptors.

We laughed as we played group-building games, including passing our linked bodies through our hoola-hoop, and un-knotting our clasped arms.

The girls spent time writing in their journals. Each of us drew a page that included all our names and birthdays. Many of us drew our names, together, inside a large heart.
We wrote about how we felt today, being together.

We built a very cozy nest to settle into while we drew on the blueboard. Mothers arrived, and helped us with the work of figuring out what body parts are very comfortable saying aloud.

Much too soon, it was time to hold hands and sing our finishing song.

Gorgeous work, Circle Girls. I'm looking forward to next week!

be boys know their creatures

Ask a be boy about ducks, or blue whales, or female kangaroos, or many other beings, and they'll tell you some very interesting facts.

We've been studying creatures, far and wide, to gain comfort and good humor in the wide-range of reproductive and sexual systems.

be boys also easily can talk about how boys get trained to be "boys", and what can happen when we let down those guidelines.

We've begun studying one of the many book in our library, randomly choosing page numbers to begin conversation. It's a good test of the skill our teaching crew has with handling spontaneous topics! So far, so fine.

Parents joined us at the end of class for a bit of conversation about our wonderful shared class last week, when the be boys joined the In This Circle girls. Shared class suddenly is beloved! We're looking forward to the first week in December, when we'll have our second, shared class!

Excellent, thorough and fun work, be class.

Liliaceae

Science and The Body children worked and played hard today, both inside and out.

The children chose to focus on Place for their haiku, coming up with lines that creatively changed words with 3 syllables to 1. Smart re-construction.

We ate, then went outside to play a game that required working together, and trusting one-another. The game involved blindfolds and a very long rope!

When we came in, we discovered two ticks had joined us. We got to look at them under our magnifying loupes. How many legs does a tick have?

The children painted another plate for their botanical books on the Lily. They learned that the botanical name for Lily is Liliaceae. They learned that onions and garlic, tulips and daffodils also are members of this botanical family.

We gathered with parents and siblings to talk about Trust, and to describe what we'd explored today.

We finished by sharing our haiku and blowing out our candle.

Great work, Science children and families!

Science Kids Plant, Paint, and Figure It Out

Science children arrived today, filled with joy.

The children acknowledged our growing closeness by starting class with comments like "It feels so warm in here." and "It feels really comfortable today." When asked why they thought it felt like this today, they had many ideas, including that we're getting to know each other better. Yes! We talked about how, 7 weeks ago, none of us knew everyone in our group, and how most of us knew only 1 or 2 others. We talked about how we are consciously and conscientiously building community. We talked about how this takes time and thoughtfulness.

It was the boys' turn to write our haiku. They quickly came up with a 5-7-5 haiku that was funny and well-constructed.

Today's weather drew us outdoors; we spent time in the garden, planting tulip bulbs. We talked about how flower bulbs store energy, how they are able to re-flower for several years, how they require time in the dark and cool in order to re-bloom.

The children continued their botanical plates by painting sepals and petals.

Parents and siblings arrived; we met in the pillow room for a beginning group conversation about stereotypes of "Girl" and "Boy".

The class shared our new haiku; we said it aloud several times, and ended class by singing Happy Birthday to 2 students and 1 parent!

It was a wonderful day, Science Families!

Science Kids Start Botanical Books!

Science girls and boys were so happy when they arrived to class today! They came right into the kitchen, helped set the table, pour each other herbal tea, check in about their week since we last were together.

We lit our candle, then wrote an extra-long, extra-wonderful haiku:

Red leaves falling and swirling, The light spreads so fast. Leaves are so bright and pretty. Little leaves falling quickly. The candle is warm. What a beautiful fall day! Candles burn brightly. Go visit WiseBodies class!

The children already have created a lovely book of 5 haiku!

We gathered to drink our special herbal tea. One boy commented that he finds the tea relaxing. Yes! We'll learn more about the plants in the tea, but calm relaxing is precisely what the herbs in the tea offer.

We ate apple crisp and compared family recipes. One student's family adds cardamom, another oat flakes.

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The children were introduced to gorgeous Lily flowers. We looked at paintings and drawings botanical artists have made of flower parts. We agreed we would each make our own botanical books, filled with our own paintings and drawings of flower parts.

Today we focussed on petals and sepals, figuring out how to tell which was which.

Each child picked a petal or sepal to draw, decided how to lay out their page, and began their drawings, including the flower's name and part.

We finished with parents, telling them about our afternoon, reading aloud our haiku, and passing around our circle-pulse.

What a wonderful class, Science girls and boys; thank you!

Circle Girls are Back!

We had a wonderful first day back!

The girls served each other tea and applecrisp, talked about their schools, reminisced about summer, figured out some of the likes they share, and made themselves at home.

We spent our first afternoon together enjoying several different kinds of introductions, including learning each other's names. The girls painted their names on cards that now hang from our classroom walls.

Also in our classroom, we made a chalkboard web of just a few of the things we've discovered we have in common. It's fun to see the beginning of the web of connection that we'll create throughout our year together.

New this year is the fact that two of our long-term girls have become high-schoolers! They have agreed to step into leadership roles, for which they are very well-prepared.

The first day of In This Circle always marks a special moment at WiseBodies. It's a moment when girls, together, begin to set their own agenda for a year of girl-led, community-building and learning.

And, actually, the girls already have begun to express their girl-power by insisting that they set our start-date. Each year, In This Circle girls request that we begin a full 5 or 6 weeks after the other WiseBodies classes, so that they can fully participate in school sports.

Yes to girls claiming the right to create their own calendars, participating in sports (or not!), and deciding when just the right time is for...well, for just-about everything we do together.

Here are just a couple of the questions we'll draw attention to this year:

In how many parts of the world, including our own homes and neighborhoods, are a girl's right to speak-up challenged and sometimes prevented?

In how many conscious, and unconscious ways, do adults, girls, and boys participate in quieting and silencing girls' voices?

These questions will be explored in all our classes, and particularly here, in our all-girl class.

We'll also explore the ways and places girls' voices are encouraged, how we can participate in this encouragement, and how we can make sure girls' voices are heard here at WiseBodies.

At the end of class, mothers joined in, helping to lead us in movement and stretching, and joining us in singing our class song.

We're a full and wonderful circle again this year.

Great job, In This Circle girls!

BE Boys and their TA's

Today was pretty special here at BE class: with Isa unable to teach, and with virtually no notice, WiseBodies Teaching Assistants, Mae and Aidan, took over class.

They did a spectacular job.

BE children continued to gain skill in gathering their energies to form a solid group, put double-named animal cards together in order, and learned a whole lot about lizards!

They played a game of Concentration!

The students had a chance to read from our WiseBodies library. They practiced ways to engage in all-inclusive community play.

Parents and siblings joined in at the end, to learn with and from BE students, and to help increase our Whole.

In addition to all the joyful sounds resounding through our little school, I later learned I had been gifted with Get Well notes from students and Assistant Teachers.

Well done, BE students!

Mae and Aidan, you are spectacular teachers. Lucky us, lucky world. Thank you.

Science Children!

Science children welcomed their 5th week of class with good spirits and liveliness.

We keep remembering, out loud, that we have just begun meeting one-another, and that we get to focus on that alone for as long as we need.

In some ways, this approach sums up the work we do here at WiseBodies!

The children and I spent more time with our loupes, this time taking a peek into the seeded center of apples. The children noticed all kinds of wonders: 5 points! (Except the cool recognition that one apple had 4 points. We're looking at the possibility that differnce = cool.) Crystalline structure to the flesh! Many 5-pointed structures buried deep within the apple's flesh!

We discussed the fact that the entire apple grew from an apple flower.

We talked about creatures that might have pollinated our apples: honeybees? moths?

We wondered what pollen is.

I suggested that we might have grown from flowers! The children laughed. I asked them to ponder it, even though it might be silly. If we had grown from flowers, from what flowers might we have grown?

Our time in the Pillow Room included lots of games that help us get to know one-another better, and a special game that helps us work well together.

Parents joined us, and we got to play get-to-know-you-better games, all together.

We had a very joyful day. Nice job, Science Children!

BE boys and The Forest

Last Tuesday was the kind of day all beings needed to be outdoors. And so BE boys, teaching assisitants, and I took apple crisp, popcorn, water, cups, dishes, a tablecloth and made our way to the forest.

We left a sign on the door, to let parents know where we were.

We left a popcorn trail for parents who might also be hoping for time in the forest.

The kids led, hiking up the steep hill. Their task was to find our "spot" for the year. Up we went, settling into the perfect forest alcove, where we created a comfortable outdoor classroom.

Mae and Aidan led us through our opening exercises and games. We do these every week. The excercises and games help us connect, once again becoming our strong circle.

We ate, fully enjoying eating outdoors.

The kids were given three minutes to run as far from we teachers as possible. Within seconds they were completely disappeared into trees, leaves, the deep ravine, the steep hills.

We called Time!, and back they came, impossibly quickly.

We settled into deep conversation about Ground Rules, what we're learning this year - and why - and how we're doing growing into our circle. We talked about our first joint class with In This Circle, coming up in three weeks. The teachers let the kids know they'll be responsible for leading the first joint be/In This Circle class; this caused great excitement.

We agreed that we're all very, very happy - lucky! - to be together this year.

Science and the Mighty Seed

Science children spent Monday afternoon learning how to use a jeweler's loupe to focus in on aster flowers, calendula seeds, moonflower parts, and the petals of zinna flowers.

Our kitchen lab was filled with the "oooh's" and "aaaaah's" that come with scientific discovery. Hidden worlds were opened.

The children also practiced bringing focus from individual self to the collective self. We're figuring out how to be present in our group's circle when we don't have a table between us.

Parents arrived; the circle grew bigger. We were able to recognize the increase in discomfort as the circle enlarged to include even more people we don't yet know very well.

We're practising paying attention to our experiences as they change.

Tea time!

New and current In This Circle families joined WiseBodies today for a tea and watercolor party.

Girls, little sisters, and mothers all painted our impressions of a bouquet of zinnias gifted WiseBodies by a Science and The Body family!

While we painted, we got to know one-another a little bit more. We shared memories from 4th grade, drank herbal tea, and had a tour of the classrooms.

In This Circle begins two weeks from today!

It will be exciting to welcome back families for whom this will be their third year, families for whom this will be their second year, and brand-new families who will be joining a quite magical circle!

Recognizing Comfort and Anxiety

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Be kids worked hard last week.

Imagine being 12, 13, and 14, and being given the opportunity to focus in, moment by moment, on one's level of comfort and discomfort.

We spent a good part of last week's class doing just that, supporting one-another to take the time to really check in to figure how we feel.

We've begun also to practice skills that can help increase comfort when we're feeling anxious.

We did some simple, full-body stretches.

We realized that, even though we use it every day, most of us don't know what kind of toothpaste we use. You might wonder what that has to do with thoughtful sex education...ask a teen from be!

We continued our study of insects, birds, fish, and mammals, with card and word games. We're learning some very unusual and interesting facts. Our understanding of the wide variety of sexual and reproductive habits and processes is expanding.

We began focussing on our Ground Rules, which will continue as an important and on-going conversation.

Parents joined us, which felt warm and comfortable. Be students got to share what we've been up to. We finished with the fun hand-game that is the mark of the end of be class.

Great work, be.

Painting, in the Forest

Children arrived, early enough to have a moment in the front garden, enjoying the swing and the front porch.

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We gathered indoors, to light our candle and create our very first haiku. The moon, splendid the night before in her fullness and eclipsing, was in our hearts: our poem was filled with Moon.

We followed the Moon with our first journey to the Forest, each girl and each boy with something to carry. We held baskets of apples, painting supplies, a tablecloth, a very large bowl of popcorn, and good spirits.

Settling onto the forest floor, we set up our temporary home. After many apples and much popcorn, we thought through and answered two questions. We talked about learning to take space with our voice, expressing our thoughts and feelings.

Each child learned to use a loupe, looking at calendula flowers and seeds, leaves, our hands, the forest floor.

Loupes focussed on calendula seeds, we painted them in watercolor.

Packing up, we returned to our classroom where we met family members busily painting the calendula seeds on watercolor paper we had left for them.

In our very large closing circle, the children shared their Moon haiku with family members. We repeated the poem twice, all together, ending our fine afternoon.

be !

WiseBodies brand-new class for 12 - 14 year old boys is off to a wonderful start!

Today was our second class, and already we are happy and whole together.

Throughout the Fall, we'll study birds, insects, and mammals. We've begun by learning about the Great Blue Whale.

Since this is WiseBodies, we are focussing on the mating behavior and reproductive anatomy of the beings with whom we share our Earth.

BE students welcome family and friends into our classroom, to join us for the last part of each class. Students get the chance to share what we are learning. Family and friends get to ask questions, participate in our closing circle, and take our conversation home.

Science and The Body, Second Class!

Science and The Body children beautifully welcomed a new student.

We began class by lighting our special beeswax candle, then ate on a "floor" table the children beautifully set up.

We unscrambled the scrambled letters of each child, practising asking for help when needed.

The children looked closely at Calendula flowers, emerging Calendula seeds, and fully formed Calendula seed heads. We figured out where, within the flower head, seeds are formed.

With watercolors, we painted our individual interpretation of Calendula. We agreed that it's cool to borrow ideas and materials from each other.

Parents and relatives arrived.

We gathered in the pillow room, and thought about how we might like to end class. One student thought it would suit the spirit of our class if we ended each Monday with a poem.

One student's uncle recited the first lines from Shakespeare's Sonnet 18:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date. Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimmed; And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed; But thy eternal summer shall not fade, Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st, Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade, When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st. So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

It was so lovely, we held hands and had him repeat this three more times.

The child who had begun class by lighting our candle blew the candle out.

First Day of Class.

WiseBodies classes began today!

Science and The Body children, their parents, and I had a fine afternoon together.

By the end of class, we knew each other's names inside and out, in order and out-of-order, right-side-up and upside-down. We discovered many things we have in common, and some things we don't. We learned how cool it is to say "no", and how much support one receives in this class for using this word. We all decided we want to come back next week.

It was a very, very good first day of class. Nice work, Science families!

If you haven't visited our website, do: wisebodies.org Or make an appointment to come to class; you'll enjoy it.

BE! Our new class! Open House!

be! Open Class for be!**

Join us Monday, July 27th, 4:00pm - 5:30pm, to learn about and experience our new after-school class, be, for 12 - 14 year old girls and boys.

be is a year-long, coming-of-age class for girls and boys, meeting Tuesday afternoons 3:30 - 5:00 pm, September 2015 - May 2016, in Chatham, NY.

be girls and boys will have the chance to explore who and how they are in their inner worlds, in their families, at school, and in the world; to practice grounded communication; to play games supporting together and alone time; to learn about the whole and healthy body; to prepare food with and for each other; to reveal the best of who they are; to learn skills for bringing parents into personal communication, and to experience their own self-created coming-of-age ceremony.

For questions and to RSVP, please call Isa at 518-821-9676 or send her a message.

 
Isa Coffey knows how to get teenagers to listen, speak honestly, and show respect for others. Her unique WISEBODIES is an approach to sex education that is less about sex and more about the understanding of differences among us that usually (and hopefully) comes with maturity. All parents should feel comfortable trusting Isa to offer their children a safe environment to discuss their deep personal questions about their sexual and personal identities and learn evidence based information about their changing bodies, both physically and emotionally.”

— Nancey Rosensweig, CNM Catskill Holistic GYN/Midwifery

In This Circle Summer Tea for Girls and their Mothers!

“WiseBodies is a wonderful after-school class that teaches the mind, body, and soul to work as one. The atmosphere is calm, controlled, focused, safe, and learning friendly….” Emily, 13

In This Circle Summer Tea for Girls and their Mothers

In This Circle is a year-long teen girls’ coming-of-age class, for girls 12 - 15 years old, and their mothers. We meet Wednesday afternoons, October through May, in Chatham, NY.

To give you a chance to experience what In This Circle is like, we are hosting a Summer Tea for Girls and their Mothers, Wednesday, September 29th, 4:00 - 5:30 pm

You’ll be able to meet In This Circle girls (for many girls, September will be the beginning of their third year!); meet their mothers; meet Isa, the teacher; see the classrooms; and have an experience of what class is like.

Please visit our website, wisebodies.org
For questions, and to RSVP, please call Isa at 518-821-9676 or email her at wisebodieshudson@gmail.com.

“...I wish all kids had this kind of safe, wholesome and nourishing environment to learn about sex!”
Sarah, mother of three girls who attend WiseBodies classes

Hudson Pride Parade

KNOW students were brilliant on Saturday, June 27th, when they built, then escorted, our first WiseBodies float down Warren Street to celebrate Hudson Pride.

Previous to the Parade, the students had spent hours shopping the Salvation Army for costumes, searching out local stores for festive float materials, and preparing 6 hours of perfect Pride soundscore.

Mateo Coffey-Loring and Mary Patierno joined us as our film and photography crew. Maija Reed joined us as long-time WiseBody community support. We saw - and heard! - WiseBodies parents and children along the Parade route.

While WiseBodies students and I have joined in Hudson's Black Lives Matter marches, this was our first year joining a community event as WiseBodies school. We look forward to seeing what kind of positive impact we can have in our local communities in the coming months and years.

After all, sexuality education is all about clear communication, creating positive change, learning how to use power toward goodness, and working together.

Nice job, KNOW students!