Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Creating Community through Self-Expression

Lately the preschool cohort has been intensely focusing on self-expression! Self-expression can happen in many ways- it's anytime we express ourselves through a form of communication whether that's art, speech, dance, or something else! One child begins to play as a rock climber while another asserts, "No, I'm not a rock climber! I'm going to science class!". Seeing this disregard for the ideas of others may seem cold, but children can value each other without using words or engaging in play. Inviting play can be a long dance of negotiation rather than a quick fulfillment of doing whatever is said first.

There are few times when self-expression actually disrupts play or hurts someone else. It is an interesting scene on our school yard that takes place. The ebb and flow of the each child's deeply important play can look like just chaotic energy of children to an outsider. However, once you step into their world it becomes clear that playing together is actually filled with testing social skills out to fulfill each self interest. The egalitarian or altruistic ideals of our society are not inherent but rather are a learned social structure within our communities. As children work to negotiate with individual playmates (or even the whole group!) they began to define their own version of what it means to be a community.

At Tumbleweed, I often reflect on how this group of unique individuals are like planets in a solar system. Each child may become closer to another and be going the same direction but they are on their own path and may just as easily drift apart. It is fascinating to see how we all learn and work together to become such social creatures.

DC says, “AS I’m ready to play. Want to play sisters?”
EM says, “QM can I help? I will get the scoop too.”
AS says, “I need to go to a concert in a park by bike. Can you watch me?”
LC says, “CE, we are in college. Wanna do science class? You have to use goggles and a little sugar.”
RM says, “Lets make rain with this hose. Like Elsa we can solve problems”.

These statements are a glimpse into the community our Tumbleweeders have created. They reach out to one another, they drift apart, they engage with different members of our community each day... but always they are working on what it means to be together here at our school. What role do they have? How do they fit in? How will it be different tomorrow? As they grow and learn more about themselves they constantly reinvent what it means to be a community- what it means to be a Tumbleweeder.

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