Last week, a group of children wanted to build a pretend campfire for their cat party. They felt that the very best campfire branches were the ones being used to make a den under the stairs even though they could have easily used the branches close to the campsite in the back of the yard. Dismantling and dragging these branches to the back where the cat party was was hard work, especially since they had to drag branches past a very irate den builder who had worked so hard the day before dragging those same branches from the back of the yard to the front and building the den in the first place. Hard work never scared a 4- and 5-year old, but the den builder WAS NOT happy about this idea...of course. So while they worked out the details of "No you aren't" and "Yes we are" one of the campfire builders noticed that there was a plastic wrapped, store bought, pile of wood sitting unused right at the base of the den. She tried to pick it up by the cord handle stapled into the topmost log, but couldn't move it. I lifted it over the dry creek bed and set it down so that the group could problem solve how to get it to the back of the yard. Fortunately they all agreed that it was the best collection of firewood, EVER. So, the only problem was how to get it to the back.
Well, here is the thing, they wanted help -- as in..."You carry this back, teacher." I kind of started spinning my wheels trying to talk them through carrying it -- which mostly involved telling them to work it out and you can imagine how unhelpful that was in their opinion. One of our co-opers came around the corner with a branch and helped them slide it through the handle and the concept of the simplest carrying machine was passed on to another generation.
It was another one of those moments when I get to stand back and thank my lucky stars for working in a parent cooperative. During each class (I teach two age grouped classes) I have 3 co-oping parents working with me -- roughly 60 adults take turns working in the classroom on a weekly or every other week basis. Over the course of the school year, each one of these adults brings something very special into the children's lives. The children learn that each adult has unique skills and this is, perhaps, the loveliest message of all gained during their enrollment at our school.
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