Monday, January 18, 2016

A Small, Amazing Thing

By necessity, we store a lot of our classroom supplies on shelves in the classroom, which we cover with pieces of fabric held on by velcro strips. It's an imperfect system, but one I've come to appreciate.

During the first few weeks of school, children new to Woodland Park, want to see and then play with the toys and other things they find when they peek behind the curtains. When they do, we adults say, "That's closed, but do you want to play with that tomorrow/next week/some other time?" 

There was a time when I felt badly about this. It seemed somehow wrong to be telling children that things in their classroom, at their school, were closed to them, but it only took a few accidental experiments in allowing two-year-olds free access to everything all the time to figure out that that road lead to the chaos of toys, tools, and supplies all over the floor with no where to walk, no where to play, and lots of tears and frustration. Children, no one in fact, can thrive in that sort of environment.

So, until the day dawns that the classroom isn't needed for storage, we will have "closed" shelves and the truth is that after the first couple weeks of the school year have past, even the youngest kids accept it. It helps that they know that all they need to do is take my hand and show me what they've spied to make sure it's "open" in the near future.

There are four of these curtains along two sides of our checker board rug, an active place where we most often build with blocks and have circle time. One corner of one of the curtains does not stay up well at all, the velcro being some 15 years old. Several times a day, every day, one of us will brush against it causing it to fall. When I see it's fallen, I put it back up, without comment, and so do the children. All of them. All day long, be they two or six, when one of us notices the curtain has fallen, we simply  pause in what we're doing, be it building, dancing, or singing, and put it back up. It's a small, amazing thing: a simple act of agreement, of community, of we. I've never talked with anyone about it, child or adult, yet it happens day-after-day, year-after-year, for as long as I've been teaching here.

Last week, a parent, while once more reattaching the fallen corner, said to me, "You know, I have some spare velcro at home. I could replace that." I said, "That would be great!" but now I'm having second thoughts.

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1 comment:

Barbara Zabororowski said...

It's a chance for the kids to signal their agreement with the rule that some things are closed. A happy piece of serendipity.