At this time of year, when the weather is good and the children are full of energy, what a gift it is to come across an opportunity for real effort, and really big practical life work! Scrubbing furniture is one such opportunity, and helps the children to prepare for the end of the school year. “We are washing everything before the end of the school year, so we will leave our classroom clean and ready for the start of next school year.” This big work can be done within the classroom, or out on the playground.
Practical life that is real and necessary is so much more meaningful than works on trays on shelves that practice skills, but don’t have any real-life purpose.
Today, due to having to reschedule three times (don’t ask!), we finally had a big delivery of bark for our playground. This bark was needed for under the swings to ensure safety in case of a fall. Our old bark had just become too compressed and worn out. After rescheduling three times, our parent volunteers were thin on the ground, and the bark pile seemed enormous, (Three truck loads!) What could we do? One of the teachers suggested that some of the children might like to help. We had a handy supply of child-sized rakes, shovels and buckets, after all! Thanks, teacher, for reminding me of how competent and capable and eager to help children can be. What started off as a few children ended up as a school wide effort, with everyone involved except the two year olds. (They were napping, by this time). During an hour long effort in the morning, followed by an hour long effort in the afternoon, the children, with the help of a few teachers and a handful of parent volunteers, moved and spread three truck loads of bark. What an amazing effort.
What was especially sweet was that as we were working this morning, children from the other school that shares our play area sat down to watch the effort. After our children had gone inside to get cleaned up and rehydrated, they came up to me and asked if they could help, too. I was already very hot and pooped out, but I couldn’t resist, so I filled one big bucket for every child. They were so happy to join in the effort.
One of our kids told me, “I just love helping my school.” This fits in 100% with some of our values – child-centered, dignity (of work), and community. I hope parents involve their own children in the real life of their homes, including yard work!