Government Shutdown Blues

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Our family workshops typically run four consecutive weeks. Somewhere around week three, we slip into a sweet spot. The kids are familiar with me as a teacher. I find myself getting hugs and requests to hold hands on our walk to the museums. The parents get comfortable with each other and the framework of the class. Nobody seems to be judging anyone’s parenting and everyone is enjoying time together. During our first fall workshop, Marvelous Museums, we made it to our sweet spot and then had the rug pulled out from under us. SHUTDOWN!!!!

Politics aside, I was really disappointed that the continuity of the class was interrupted. Developmentally, pre-K children benefit from consistent and frequent experiences. If you are a parent, think about what happens when your child returns to school/daycare after a vacation. It takes time for them to re-acclimate themselves. For example, there is one boy in my class who found it very difficult to share his thoughts with the group. By the third week, his answers came easily and in much louder and clearer voice. Similarly, by the end of the class the children know the safety routine for walking to the museum. The time is takes us to walk is sometimes cut in half because the children know what is expected of them and are excited to reach their destination. Most of all, there is a camaraderie that is established among everyone, which is easily lost. The shutdown has taken away from the meaning and impact of our family workshop experience and while, in the big picture, it isn’t the end of the world, I can’t help but feel frustrated. After all, it is no easy feat to get families of young children into museums on beautiful fall mornings.

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Discussing what is art at the National Museum of African Art

Of course the children enrolled in SEEC’s lab school are bearing the brunt of the impact. Our workshop attendees come once-a-week, lab school students come everyday, many of whom have been coming everyday for years. Consider the effect on the infants who are transitioning to group care for the first time or the kindergartners who are going to have to make-up this time off. And because most of our students were just settling into their new classrooms, the timing of the shutdown could not have been worse. Students were still busy acquainting themselves with a new environment, new teachers and in many cases, new friends. I know many parents are enjoying their time with their children. But, I also know that students are missing their friends and the familiar framework of their school day.

To counteract these blues, I am posting photos from our recent family workshop as a reminder of what we did accomplish. I am feeling optimistic that we will be able to get back to our job of educating soon.

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A boy and his grandmother explore what the meaning of this object.

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Families work together to look at an object and describe its’ features.

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Careful looking, a child decides which object she wants to learn more about.

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Creating collections from items found on the National Mall and sharing with the class.

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Reading Babar’s Museum of Art

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