This past Summer season, I had the good fortune of working with my 18-year old son at our Tink Camp. I saw that he was comfortable with the children and that he instinctively stayed close to those who needed someone close, which made me happy. But, there were two aha moments that I especially enjoyed. The first was when he exclaimed, "But I just vacuumed in here!" at the end of another sand-filled day. How great is it that I got to hear that? The second moment occurred during a busy building session. All three tables in our Project Center were surrounded by children. We were knee deep in plastic bags and assorted plastic containers. Some children were hammering holes into plastic lids, a handful were sewing fused plastic, and a bunch were clamoring for a turn with one of the glue guns. My son was in charge of the glue gun table. At one point, during all that lovely chaos, he looked up at me, eyebrows raised, eyes wide, and an expression that said, "Wow!" I knew what he was thinking -- or rather what he was hearing and feeling. I said out loud to him from across the room, "I know!"
What he was telling me, without words, was that the room was FILLED to overflowing with noise. Now, I just wrote a blog post called Finding Quiet, and here is a bit from it..."finding quiet should be an unspoken question, but the answer is already there, through something as simple as labeling or in carefully planning the environment. “Fun,” is whispered, not shouted to let each child and adult find the way."
It is true that we try to find the whisper and the pockets of quiet comfort, and it is also true that children, gathered together in an active learning environment will produce a steady hum. Though hum is not the right word at all, it is more rambunctious than that. The interactions that lead to the exchange of ideas is loud. No doubt about it. It is also messy. During parent-teacher conferences, Andrea, who teaches the 2s/3s will often lead the parents of those littlest ones through one of the busiest rooms and she will remind them to take note -- of the activity, the lovely chaos, and the noise.
The littlest ones are independent satellites, way out on the far reaches of the universe. They haven't noticed the others just yet. Where they are is where they are. As children grow and make connections, their connections create sound and running and jumping, falling, grabbing, crashing. Those who work with young children know this noise and are happy with it.
The environment catches us. We have open spaces for full tilt running. We have times and space in which we know that it will simply be loud. The pockets of quiet are important, because the noise is a life force. The environment and the adult's role is to find a balance and more importantly, to gain an appreciation for bringing the noise and finding the quiet!