Playdates and Projects
Weekly field trips at TOADS rotate through a list that includes self-care and safety skills, arts and classroom readiness, forage-to-fork food processing, and community involvement. Today we met at a student's home for a class that met multiple objectives: Doll Wearing!
During free play time, parents took turns respectfully coaching children through challenging social interactions. Conflict was resolved by face-to-face listening and child-to-child suggestions for reaching an agreement. Adults offered the least amount of help necessary, as we do when the children are taking on new physical challenges.
Older and younger children are used to playing together in our classes, and they learn to make allowances for each other's developmental stages, setting the stage for accepting varying levels of social skills from their peers as well.
When everyone had settled in, we gathered in a circle as Teacher Janet started the class routine, then introduced the expert who would be coaching us through a complicated carry. Our school is fortunate to have several babywearing educators enrolled, and one of them was able to make a fun story out of the knot-tying steps for a traditional sling carry. The children all listened closely, and were excited for their turn to make a wrap and wear the "babies" they had brought.
Maria Montessori reminds us that learning multi-step skills is the precursor to success in long division, and in life. Shinichi Suzuki reminds us that abilty begets ability. So as these children spend their playtime wearing dolls, with wraps they made themselves, they are not just learning to be nurturing caregivers, but are also learning to excel at the less important tasks of manipulating numbers, building machines, and creating great art.