Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Less glitter to clean up

The DHM writes:
"Arts and crafts- these things were all billed as things parents often couldn't do by themselves or required a group....And I say this NOT in the spirit of criticism, honest. It's just that, when I expressed some befuddlement, or really, surprise, about why moms needed a co-op in order to do even the most basic arts and crafts stuff, the other moms all looked at me like I had three heads, and at least one had a wart on its nose and spinach in its teeth."
When our Apprentice was two and three and four, we were part of a community-centre co-operative playschool program, two mornings a week (when she was four we were homeschooling kindergarten so we cut it down to one morning plus a gym class). There were several reasons we got involved with this--it was run by our neighbourhood group, we liked the person in charge, it was a way for me to get to know other moms as well as for little Apprentice to meet some neighbourhood kids. Moms were on a schedule to help--some days you could drop your child off, other days you stayed and helped paste or sing or vacuum up the mess afterwards.

At one point the teacher mentioned that although the Apprentice seemed to enjoy the program, she hardly ever wanted to do the prepared crafts. (The children didn't all do crafts at once--there were "stations" that the children could visit during their activity time. They could do a craft, or go to the playdough table, or play with trucks, or whatever.) Gluing hats on snowmen, crayoning leaves, and things like that. She painted at the easel, sometimes, but did not usually do the crafts. Was that a concern for me?

I reassured her that I did not care if the Apprentice brought home even one glitter-glued snowman or Valentine or Mother's Day flower. For one thing, we lived in an 800-square-foot house, and I had only so much fridge-door space. For another, if she wanted to spend her whole time there playing with her friends, that was perfectly fine with me. [Clarification: I don't mean that she was disrupting the class, just that she was choosing her own activities during play time.] She could crayon at home afterwards if she wanted. I got to visit with my friends a bit too, in between vacuuming up sand and washing paint off kids' hands, and nobody was making me crayon.

The teacher got it. Which is why we stayed for three years.

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