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Touchstone Center for Children 

June Newsletter


A few weeks ago, I came across the turtles that live in Turtle Pond in Central Park. It was a warm day, and I found one of them sitting very still on a rock. As with so many creatures, its stillness – its seeming attentiveness to its particular kind of dreaming and waiting, made me think of young children, who, after a long year of schooling, are about to enter the invitation that is summer. This, in turn, brought to mind the unique attentiveness that children themselves often bring to summer, a way of thinking that is alive with the playfulness and adventure that is discovery, and an imagining and dreaming, often centered and inspired by the natural world.

The nature part of the mind is with many birds, trees, ponds, and it always has tropical weather. The nature part of the mind plays by making birds.

- Rafael, 5th Grade

And I ask myself: how might we nurture this vacation of thought and knowing to the demands and expectations of school learning? Is it possible to encourage children to enter their summer minds, their link to worlds often beyond factuality and assessments – even, as they adjust to the logic of formalized learning?

My thought makes me feel like me in the ocean.

- Annie P., 3rd Grade

Often the answer is close by – as close as our continuing, as teachers and parents, to ask a particular kind of question, a way of inquiring and sharing with children, that brings the imaginative and playful experience into the forefront of knowing and learning. Perhaps, it is our own wondering, along with children, as to what might be the thoughts of a bird’s stillness, or how and where do turtles go to dream. Certainly, it is the right of children, even ourselves, to allow our summer minds to play, to bring into relief the shape and meaning of what isn’t always the correct answer – but is most of all a way of understanding and seeing the world, as if it were a summer day, imagined into its own particular kind of reality and meaning.

My imagination is in a place where there is water and light.
There is a boat. When you see it, it stops.
Then you get on it.

 - Isabella, 1st/2nd Grade

Let us go then, and along with Isabella, take her boat – and for the brief interlude that is summer, letting our imagination become its watered universe, its light filled journey, its unique place of dreaming that might just bring with it another dimension of knowing – a place of invention and possibility, our turtle and bird minds at last – imagining and at play.

And come September, how much there might be to share with children, an ageless conversation that could easily continue – until next summer.

Enjoy and enjoy.


Richard Lewis
Touchstone Center for Children
Writings by children from the following books by Richard Lewis: "I Catch My Moment: Art and Writing by Children on the Life of Play"; "We Are Rivers", illustrated by Kathy Creutzburg; and "Taking Flight, Standing Still: Teaching Toward Poetic and Imaginative Understanding"; Copyright © Touchstone Center Publications, 2007, 2010, and 2011; Photographs from the Touchstone Center Archives, 2018.
Copyright © 2018 The Touchstone Center for Children, All rights reserved.

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