Friday, May 16, 2014

Points for cuteness

While it is true that technically my background is in secondary education, I find myself working more and more with younger kiddos. It is a different ball of wax than working with the high schoolers, with whom you can reason and debate in an organized fashion. There's more giggling, and certainly more hugging when 1st graders are involved. I remind myself that these activities are just as important as developing skills like, oh, following directions or being able to walk more than 10 feet without tripping over one's own feet. In life, you can earn points for sheer cuteness. And they do.

Last Thursday, when I was working with a preK class, one little boy "planted" his pole bean seedling by digging a 6" deep hole and burying it when I wasn't looking. I assured his flustered classroom teacher that I didn't expect all of the plants to survive, and that her student inadvertently helped to build our soil. I showed him how to plant near the soil surface "for next time" (though I'm thinking I might have this little kiddo stick to something harmless like counting lettuce plants when I am not monitoring him individually).

No, no, the photo above is of his classmate planting things just like I showed him. The bean plant grave digger will remain anonymous. Unlike the radish ripper, caught here on camera just before the act....

When a 3rd-grader's hand -- completely independent from the 3rd-grader to whom this hand was attached, he insisted -- spontaneously pulled up an under-developed radish during my after school program the other day, when we were supposedly observing our garden with our eyes, not our hands, what did I do? Yell at the kid? Chastise him? No. That never helps anyone. Pointing out that it would have been even bigger and even more delicious if he'd waited another week or two ensured that other tiny radishes nearby wouldn't suffer the same fate. And turning the "accidental" harvest into a competition whereby the best radish portrait artist got to take home the errant radish kept nearly a dozen kids focused on observational drawings for a solid 15 minutes.

Even the ones who normally have a 15-second attention span. (The lesson here? Make it a competition: even if the prize is an undersized root vegetable, they'll work for it.)

Though there were some strong contenders, in the end it was a 3-way tie... and in their typically generous fashion, the 3 winners split the tiny radish between them. And hugged me on their way out. Yep, points for cuteness.

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