Post by Betsy Bowers, Director of the Center for Innovation in Early Learning
As another school year comes to a close and we begin to say farewell to the many children who have spent the past 5 years or so with us, it’s hard not to wonder what’s ahead for them. Our educators tirelessly support SEEC students as we help them make sense of the world, love learning and grow into thoughtful young citizens. Over the course of this past year, a group of SEEC educators discussed what our students should be able to do when they leave SEEC.
There’s quite a long list. A few of the things we agreed on were that our students should leave SEEC being able to solve problems, be responsible, take risks, understand their role in the community and their ability to affect change, have compassion, respect and empathy for others, and communicate their ideas.
It’s a lot to ask a 5 year old if they know how to solve a problem or be responsible, because of course they will say, “yes.” We are, after all, working on having them leave SEEC with self confidence so a positive response is expected. Because I wanted to find out if our 5 year olds are entering Kindergarten as independent thinkers, I asked a few of them this more indirect question: “If I told you that five of your friends wanted you to climb up the Washington Monument so that you could jump off, what would you say?” One student gave me an odd look and responded, “That’s not really a good idea.” One student did say, “Yes.” We’ll hope that she has some clever ideas about how to do that safely. One student simply said, “Ouch,” while a few others were much too busy to want to elaborate and so responded with a “no.”
The response, though, that reminds us that all these skills are intertwined and expands our notion of “independent thinking” was this – “Only if we could jump off like a cannonball and onto a big trampoline!” Of course, why didn’t I think of that?
Here’s hoping that this playfulness, creativity, critical thinking and overall healthy outlook on the world that we have worked so hard to nurture is embraced by our elementary school colleagues and the world. Good luck, dear friends, as you now go and bravely pursue life.