Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spring Fever at TOP!

Maya making a face in the dirt with rocks and Jake "planting" flowers.

There is some speculation about the correlation between spring and children's behaviors.  It has long been known that in the spring children get restless to get outside and be free. So in a class that is only outside, what might happen?  

Today the children seemed itchy even within their light confines of the rules of TOP.  We have many safety rules but at the same time lots of freedom.  The rules are simple: run ahead only when allowed, stop at bridges and signs to wait for the rest of the group, don't carry sticks on hikes-and then the usual-no pushing, hitting, and no mean words.

Water painting by Max.
I think all of those rules were broken today.  We had pushing and shoving while hiking on the trail.  Some kids tried to run through those who were holding hands while hiking.  We had a couple of pile ups and children ran right by the signs and bridges.  We had screaming. We don't usually police their voices.  Since we are already outside - can I say use your indoor voice? But screeching at the top of your lungs is unpleasant at any time.  When I asked kids why they ran ahead and didn't stop, they gave me a blank stare-like they wanted to say-what rule is that?

I am going to put this down as spring fever.  We all have it.  Faces turning towards the sun just like the sunflower tracks the sun's path across the sky. The desire to shed layers of clothes even when the thermometer reads in the 50's.  So, as a teacher I need to figure out how to approach this natural desire of spring freedom.

The way I handled it today was to have sit down discussions in the middle of the trail going over our TOP rules and behaviors.  That seemed to work only for the following few minutes.  So, next week will be devoted to going over not only The Outdoor Preschool rules but a bit of the philosophy.  Don't worry-we'll still play, climb and explore,  but while playing we'll be working on how to play safely and how to include other children in a way that isn't pushy.  While it may be over the children's heads, we can speak about our policy of "You can't say, you can't play."  It will be an interesting experiment as we work within the trappings of their Spring Fever!

Moles asleep in their holes.

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