Our kids are all about working their way into the ground - they've been digging up our garden, learning about sap in maple trees, and planting flowers for the butterfly and hummingbird garden in town. We use lots of nature metaphors for our kids, asking them to plant their feet in circle and stretch their branches (arms) to the sky. As teachers, we look at all of the work we do with them as giving them roots. We want our children to be grounded in kindness, be willing to question, and ready to work hard to grow and find answers.
Those solid roots and trust allowed them to ask some big questions this last week about the Novel Coronavirus. When we asked them if any of them had any questions, more than half of them shot hands into the air. We did a quick review of the difference between a question and a story, but no hands went down, and they were right. They had questions, lots of questions.
"What really is the coronavirus?"
"How did it start?"
"How does it spread?"
"Is it true that we're safe because we're kids and the disease only hurts older people?"
"Why can't I visit my nana in the nursing home?"
The questions kept coming, and there wasn't any of the wiggling that can sometimes happen when our discussions go on for a long time. We did our best to answer all of their questions, trying to be honest and reassuring, and encouraged them to talk to their families about all of this too. They seemed relieved to have an outlet and to know that there was space for their questions.
Cheryl's PK Reflections
It's that time of year: buds come out, stems emerge and growth is right in front of us everywhere. That hard work our students have been doing- how to check their body to see if they need to go potty, how to chew before they speak at snack, how to clean up and handle transitions with more ease and less tears - this may seem like easy stuff, but it is because of our roots and grounding (rhythms) that our littlest ones can grow! Teachers are seeing it as a preschooler shouted out at recess to the older students, "Who wants to play ghost in the graveyard?" and watching as a huge gaggle of kids came running excitedly to count while circling a tree. We see it as they stretch their clay to make the letter of the week proudly without prompting, think of their own addition to our classroom tree, take an alone mat to complete a puzzle they are intrigued by, and till the school garden after an older student guides their small hands to stay within the row.
This week we got to tap our school tree outside and taste test sap, sap run through a reverse osmosis machine, syrup and maple candy thanks to a family in our school community. We read books about sugaring off parties and searching for Spring - which inspired us to stay outside past recess to go hunting with magnifying glasses and our 5 senses.
There will be days of course when patience must be taught, over and over (and over) again. We are each always working on something, and at this age patience is oh so hard. We challenge them to take a breath when their picture isn't just right (and model to them that grownups make mistakes and it is okay). We encourage them to wait quietly and say "excuse me" when two other people are talking. We acknowledge their big feelings, which just by mentioning them, many times eases the mad that they feel. Patience is still quite hard for many who have something really interesting to share, but still we go over how to wait quietly and keep our bodies respectfully to ourselves and promise then it will be easier to be heard. These lessons are so very important - the groundwork - for not only school but being a kind person throughout life. Although it's hard work, we all know the fruits of the labor will be sweet!
We continued to look for the first signs of Spring with wonder: the robin, the rushing creek and new green! It is this love and excitement for nature and growth - and patience for growth - that will be with them always. It will be forever their own roots.