Monday, September 19, 2016

Making It Their School



On the first day of school, our 2-year-olds have no idea what to expect. Sure, some of them have met me, some have visited the school, but none of them have ever been part of a full morning at Woodland Park, which is why many of them are nervous even with their parent attending school with them as parents do in a cooperative. Most kids won't be comfortable at school until they've internalized the schedule. Indeed, the curriculum for our first several weeks is essentially learning about the routines and procedures that underpin our days together.

As many of you know, I use a drum to signal transitions. Last week, I used it to signal "clean up time." Being the first day of class, it was a signal for the parents to start packing things away, to clean paint brushes, to drain the water from the sensory table, although as time goes on I know the children will start hearing it as a signal for themselves. Of course, many of the kids participated anyway, imitating the adults as they put blocks on the shelves, collected small items into storage bins, and put play dough into plastic bags, but most milled about knowing that something was happening, but not exactly what. 

Our large easels needed to be moved so I made a show of it, "I need strong muscles to help me move these easels!" A couple of kids joined me as we slid the first one across the floor. Four children helped me move the second one. Now it was time to move the big green-topped table into its place. When the easels are part of the classroom set-up, I stash the art table on its side against the radiator. A half dozen kids joined me in wrangling the big table, still on its side, to its spot where the easels previously resided.



As we pulled the table I named my helpers, one at a time, saying things like, "This is our school and we're taking care of it together."

When we got the table into place, I said, "Okay, now we need to push the green side," and as they pushed I gently lowered the table onto it's legs, my team now up to a half dozen kids.

I finished by saying, "Now we need some chairs around the table," then turned my attentions to other matters.

Several minutes later, the blocks put away, I turned to survey the room to make sure we were ready to head outside, when I spotted our art table. The kids had not put some chairs around it, they had put all the chairs around it. On the first day of school these 2-year-olds had continued working on the project on their own, making it their own, with no guidance or prompting from the adults, working until it was done to their satisfaction.

They had already made this their school and were already taking care of it together.



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