"Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up, and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that."
~Robert Fulghum, "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten"
Planting seeds with Kindergarten students is the most natural thing in the world. It has all the elements that most enthrall children: dirt, water, getting messy, and magic. From the first day when I showed them a simple dried bean, we have wondered at the magic of seeds. We plant it in dirt, water it, put it on the windowsill, and in a week or so, the green shoot can be seen!
Planting seeds with children's introduces them to many life skills that can be challenging to teach on chart paper.
- Patience. My goodness, do they have to be patient! Nothing can rush a seed to grow faster than it will naturally grow, nor should it be rushed!
- Self-control. When those first shoots appear, little hands want to touch! I reminded them that their tiny plants will break easily if handled too much when they are new. So little hands are held firmly at their sides, demonstrating growing self-control.
- Gentleness. Once those first leaves start to spread out and the stem gets longer, the children are encouraged to very gently stroke them. The same little hands that push in line and knock over block towers and throw balls at recess become as gentle as a mother's hands touching her newborn babe.
There are lessons for parents and teachers, in the wonder of the bean plant in the recycled milk carton. Just as these small children must demonstrate patience, self-control, and gentleness, so must we.
With our words and actions, we can model these life skills as we tenderly nurture the precious children in our care. Just as no two bean plants grow and develop at exactly the same rate, our children will bloom in their own time. Some will walk before others, others are early talkers. Some come into JK knowing their letters and numbers, and others need time to listen to lots of rich language. Some draw detailed pictures while others scribble and paint with wild abandon.
One thing I know for sure, is that I am always astounded by how much each child grows and develops in the two years of Kindergarten. Just as we cannot rush a seed to grow, we cannot rush the beautiful process of brain development that takes place in the early years.
I am filled with wonder at every seed and at every child!