Andy the Tool Man is a carpenter. He prides himself in both his craftsmanship and his father’s and grandfather’s hand tools. There’s something warm and enticing about old tools. Andy knows that, and so do the children.
We used the big, old ‘bit and brace’ with its warm wood patina. We measured our feet with a folding ruler, and then we measured the hallway with a 50′ tape measure. Using real hammers and saws on a woodworking table was an exciting challenge. Real tools are far different than toy tools; learning how to actually manipulate a tool takes plenty of practice and also patience. Yet, real is better than pretend, so the experience was something children wanted to do. Our hand and arm muscles had a good workout…just what is needed in order to learn to pump a swing, and then to write.
Why do I have people in our community visit the classroom? Because their presence makes an important connection for children. Whether it is watching a firefighter dress in full gear, thanking a police officer, or sitting in an emergency vehicle, children need to feel part of their own community.
I wrote about this some years ago after my first visit to the Eric Carle Museum:
THE CHILD IN THE COMMUNITY
As the circle of a child’s experience expands from family to school to community, so does awareness of self and others. Activities outside the family, such as playgroups and preschool, broaden children’s horizons, widening their social and emotional encounters. Excursions to the playground, post office, or library offer new and exciting opportunities as well as challenges. Feelings of attachment to a neighborhood or local landscape develop.
Whether new or familiar, communities can be places that nurture cultural identity, diversity, responsibility, adventure, and a sense of belonging. As children find places in their community that lend themselves to these possibilities, their ties and interest deepen. As such, a child’s community involvement begins to build the foundation for citizenship and belonging.
A child’s journey is a community staircase, local to global. Those steps, one-by-one, from family to schools and to area towns, have a significant impact on a child. Children are continually learning and modeling from peers and adults. Events and experiences in this context begin to shape a child’s character.
The continuance of the steps along this pathway takes a child beyond local reaches to their state and country. Our world is becoming smaller, with its rich diversity and varied opportunities. When these cumulative experiences are nurturing and interesting to a child, they are helping to build future citizens and members of our world community with the roots of goodness and the wings of responsibility. Community comes full circle.
What can your child find in the community? Something that inspires a smile, a curious question, or a sense of wonder certainly reflects the importance that community provides. Whether it is the library, post office, or other venue, the step from family to school to community is an important part of a child’s development. At Groton Community School we embrace the family, and open the doors to the community. It is purposeful that “Community” is our middle name. Our responsibility and passion is to foster a sense of belonging in the classroom and at school. We strive to be an important link from nest to flight.
Written by Jennie Fitzkee, Head Teacher, Groton Community School with inspiration and quotations from the Eric Carle Museum.
A thank you letter is always in order!