Monday, September 09, 2013

The Kids Work It Out

A lot of kids go straight to the swings when they arrive at school. It's a way to "warm up" both physically and emotionally, giving those slower to warm kids a place to be in the midst of the action, yet enclosed in a kind of motion bubble from which to observe a bit before launching into their day. 

On most mornings when I open the classroom door, there's someone on there already, swinging, swinging, swinging.

The children in our 3-5's and 5's classes at Woodland Park make their own rules and they've not yet found a need to make any regarding the swings. 

So, unlike other schools there's no adult hanging around out there telling the kids how they would sit or stand or "be careful," the children make it up as they go when it comes to playing together on the swings, yet we've had precious few of those swing set related injuries those liability trolls are forever obsessing about. We've got a decent layer of wood chips under there and a "jump zone" free of hard things and that's enough. 

There was one group of kids a couple years back who engaged in a democratic process of developing a swing sharing policy, one that required a combination of asking for a turn and counting, but that has survived today only as a game, a ghost of that memory, that I sometimes catch children playing with one another simply as another way to have fun counting and taking turns, as opposed to obeying rules.

In fact, without rules our swings are, more often than not, a place to play together, with no one insisting that there be one child per swing or that they must sit on their bottoms or stand a certain distance away or take turns. Sometimes kids do get bumped, but since adults aren't out there pushing kids higher than they can swing on their own, it's never more than a routine fall, the kind of thing that happens dozens of times a day, almost always without tears. And then everyone's more careful next time.

Without all those rules, the kids work it out, they take care of themselves and others, the motion bubble gets popped, and your friends can join you in there.  And that pretty much sums up why we're at school in the first place.

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1 comment:

Melinda Marshall said...

Liability troll. I love it! Great post, as usual!