Wednesday, September 10, 2014

This Is Not A Point Of Pride

Tomorrow evening is our "fall" orientation. The parents of all three of the Woodland Park cooperative schools classes were already together in the spring to begin the collaborative project of creating our 2013-14 school year, and many of us saw each other during the summer in a sort of ad hoc manner. But this fall orientation is the real kick-off, the time when we make sure to fill any unfilled jobs, to finalize the schedules, and to make sure we're all on the same page.

This is the week when we remind the parents of two-year-olds not to freak out if their child hits or gets hit. This is the week we remind families of younger kids not to freak out when the older ones seem so much bigger and bolder. And this is the week that we remind the parents of the oldest kids not to freak out about their children being ready for kindergarten by the end of the year: they will be.

And this is the week that I say to each of the classes: "Expect your child to come home each day covered in water, paint, mud, and even blood."

It usually sends a slightly nervous chuckle around the room. Naturally, we're hoping for less of the blood than the other things, but I want the bar to be set from the beginning. I've said this to the parents before, but this week, the week before we start school, I want them to really hear it, to be ready for the mess that accompanies a play-based curriculum.

Not every child will get messy every day. And some children will avoid messes like the plague. But they will all at some point come home dripping, sticky, or slimy. We try to use washable materials, but there are some fabrics combined with certain gunk that will not come fully clean, at least not completely or right away. 

Both the children and the adults, because they work in the classroom alongside me, are expected to arrive dressed for the prospect of mess. I deal with it by only changing my t-shirts each day, wearing the same pants all week, peeling them off on Fridays for a good hot wash. And being Seattle, of course, we're all going to need rain gear, winter gear, and if one is sensitive to damp, crusty clothing, extra gear to change into when the play is done.

This is not a point of pride. We don't make a mess for the sake of making a mess. It is the inevitable outcome of learning what we want and need to learn through play. We learn with all five senses, with our full bodies: that's the only way to learn with our full minds.

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1 comment:

Bumblebees R Us Day Care Center said...

This is so true! Some parents may go against the idea of getting their child dirty, smelly and all but sometimes, this becomes the way for them to learn more while enjoying. The experience is incomparable to the dirt that can be washed off.