Find & Seek has entered a new era! This past Fall our partner Elisha Georgiou opened a home-based play school in the lovely Brooklyn neighborhood of Windsor Terrace. Our co-founder has fulfilled not only her personal dream but one of Find & Seek's longterm goals of having a space of our own.
Willow Nest Studio is a warm and cozy, light-filled and colorful room within Elisha's family's home. The space offers many points of interest and engagement for young children, including an ever-changing selection of carefully curated natural and recycled materials and books. Willow Nest is infused with Elisha's understanding of using the environment as third teacher, attentiveness to children's interests, and openness to fostering imaginative explorations.
Willow Nest truly stands out as a gem among all the preschool options in Brooklyn! But of course, the one writing this blog is partial to Elisha's work. After working together off and on for 8 years, I have gotten to see Elisha's gift with children develop. Her unique approach shines in the facilitated storytelling that she places at the core of her programs. Elisha converses with 2, 3 and 4-year-olds in a way that draws out the children's wildest dreams and fantasies, and that keeps the children completely engaged in the act of collective storytelling. This is something special to behold.
A range of Brooklyn parents and young children have been participating in Open Play Family Days on Tuesdays and Thursdays this Winter. Special events are being planned for occasional weekends, and Willow Nest just had a full house for Madeline Solomon/Music Garden's amazing Twice Upon a Time performance. Madeline entertained 15 children ages 0-and parents. Coming soon to Willow Nest: Spellbound Theatre!
Willow Nest's mission is to provide a high quality, arts based preschool experience to a core group of young children. The inaugural group of little ones entering her 2-3-day-week Story Tree program in the Fall of 2016 will have a wonderful gift of sharing and growing collaborative storytelling over a whole school year! Because Elisha uses documentation to inform her teaching, the scope of the year will be ever changing and deepening, co-directed by young minds and guided by a compassionate and artistic educator's practice.
This playgroup naturally extends the work Elisha and I started at Find & Seek, but it offers the thing Find & Seek always needed: the stability and community necessary to foster a depth of imaginative learning that can turn lightbulbs on and transform young lives. There are so many benefits to working with a small group of 3-4 year olds over one school year! One can only imagine the kind of deep growth Story Tree students will experience when they have the privilege of carrying out collaborative stories with Elisha and friends a few times a week, with the additional delight of exploring a wide range of art materials. And the materials at Willow Nest are so varied and beautiful. From a PVC pipe fort draped with many layers of translucent fabric, to an exquisite range of natural objects that stun the senses, Elisha has a way of displaying objects that instills a sense of wonder. It follows that children would be intrigued . . . and want to explore all day!
Also this Spring, a 1-day-a-week homeschooling workshop, Willow Roots, is available for families looking for a teacher-facilitated enrichment opportunity that aligns with the families' respective explorations. This 3-hour drop-off provides a new venue for children to explore, a guide who is equipped to shepherd emergent projects from inception to messy process to completion and connection back home. Oh, and let's not forget that this drop-off program also provides a needed break for Mamas!
It's so exciting to see Willow Nest take root and sprout, with several viable early education opportunities for Brooklyn families. This space and its kindhearted pied piper will weave stories into the fabric of the neighborhood, the tree branches of Prospect Park, and the lifelong memories of its young collaborators.