The idea for Zia Playschool was born in 2008 when Monica Snavely was teaching Philosophy of Aesthetics to a class of 8th graders who questioned why all of education couldn't be as relevant as their formative years.
Zia Playschool is an early childcare program set in a homelike environment where children can develop empathetic awareness, explore their natural curiosity, and begin to understand transformative processes through nature study, socio-dramatic play, and creative movement. We follow a balanced daily routine which values open-ended play; homemade, organic meals; and toys made of natural materials.
- Gratitude: Children can discern when adults around them complete an action out of boredom and exasperation or genuine interest and gratitude. Therefore, we can model positive relationships with the utilitarian tasks of our lives or we can demonstrate a way of being that only leads to more stress and frustration. Either way, our children learn how to live by our current state of grace.
- Mindfulness: Being present in our own activity helps children be more present and focused in their play. Through mindfulness the young child builds the capacity for longer and deeper periods of focus which then leads to quantum leaps in understanding as well as the ability to accomplish a new skill set.
- Balance: To function effectively in all environments and tasks, we need the ability to maintain controlled positions during both static (still) and dynamic (moving) activities. Balance is a multi-sensory activity. Our “sense” of balance is based on the proper functioning of the vestibular sense in close conjunction with our visual, motor, and proprioceptive senses. Although the vestibular sense develops in infants, the process continues until puberty. Around age three, children are making the transition from vestibular control based on vision to control that becomes somatosensory which means it will be guided more by a sense of touch and sensation. Therefore, children need opportunities to develop this new way of being in the world as well as see their caregivers not only moving with balance but living with balance. When we act from a place of calm and groundedness we make choices that are healthy and which have a balancing effect on our state of mind.
- Creativity: By offering arts and crafts projects in connection to holiday celebrations throughout the year, we avoid the modality popular in conventional childcare in which children are given activities to merely fill time. Instead, we use quality materials and give plenty of time to create items over a period of days or weeks to promote a true sense of beauty and purpose. In addition, we encourage our caregivers and parents to become skilled in artistic endeavors and craftsmanship so that children see beautiful and practical items being created on a regular basis.
- Empathy: To understand and share in another's pain or joy is paramount to making thoughtful choices that benefit the self, the community, as well as the earth. This is essential for a continued healthy existence for mankind.