Recently I find myself wearing this little necklace. Four beads stacked together. It’s a charm chosen from among the many that were presented and offered as gifts to visitors during a tour at the Ochoa Community Magnet School. I was one of the participants at the NAREA Winter Conference in 2013, where this Pre-K to 5th grade Reggio-inspired school opened its doors for us to visit.
These simple beads are creatively strung onto wire. Each could have become anything. Their purpose was left open-ended, for the recipient to decide. I attached mine to a chain transforming it into something wearable. As I prepare to unclasp and wrap it round my neck I’m inspired by it’s colors, the translucent quality, the simplicity, and the generous spirit of the children who created it.
Many Reggio inspired programs engage their children in this gift creation process, to become tokens for visitors. They can serve as reminders when the visitor returns home, igniting memories of the specific culture of children and educators in each environment. They represent the giving nature of children.
I first noticed this strong sense of giving in my daughter. When Anna was young she spent a lot of time with me in my studio creating unique things from whatever was on hand. Flower stalks were braided into garlands. Wire hangers were bent into mobiles, with hanging strings of beads and found objects. Fabric paint decorated a cloth bag made especially for holding magic crystals. All were shared as gifts. Even when she filled her playroom with her creations, calling it a store, she invited guests in to choose a favorite item. She had not yet developed the concept of selling as an exchange. Giving was all that mattered.
Lessons in Reflection
As I wear this gift from Tucson children I am grateful for the reflections that cause me to wonder.
- I wonder about the ways adults can support children’s desire to give?
- Do we tell a child that a store is for selling and buying?
- What might evolve if we pay close attention to the child whose store is a giving place?
- What can we learn with the child if we find ways to support the development of what this child has in mind?
Blogging by Jane Broderick