A few weeks ago, during explore we offered spending time with the baby dragon-unicorn as an option. A group of girls chose this – L.B., V. D.-B., S.M. and J.L.. L.B. was very much in the lead, but they were all sitting around the baby with her holding it. They were feeding it with the bottle and then L.B. would burp the baby – this really made them laugh and they were having a great time. Awhile later when I checked in again it seemed like a few of the girls had moved on, but L.B. and S.M. were taking the baby around the classroom – showing it things and teaching it things. They spent a lot of time at the message center teaching the baby how to draw with colored pencils and paper.
Watching them, we wondered what it would be like if we gave every student or pair of students a day to be in charge of the baby. We entered into this study to encourage caretaking, perspective taking and empathy in our class – a need that we saw along with attempts from the children. How could we support them to practice this way of being? We thought, as we watched L.B. and S.M., that some students will very easily go to the role of caring for the baby at explore time, but others will probably never get there because the other choices are too tempting. How can we give these children also an opportunity to see what it would be like to care for and think about another for a period of time.
We decided to offer everyone who wanted to a chance to be mommy or daddy for the day, they would be the one in charge of the baby. Instead of asking us, the teachers, if it was ok to hold or play with the baby, the students would have to ask the current mommy or daddy. This took the power and the ownership for the baby out of our hands and put it in theirs. They could choose a co-parent or go it alone, knowing they would have lots of babysitters at the ready. There was lots of excitement, especially when we shared the parent tool bag complete with baby sling, soap, food and bottles. Now, each day, we randomly pick a new parent to care for the baby (who has been named Boris). Boris is well taken care of. He is carried outside, he is good company at lunch unless he is sleeping, he is a great playmate and as the kids tell,us, he is a very, very good baby who doesn’t cry or make much noise at all!
Here are some images and reflection from our new mommies and daddies:
What did it feel like to take care of the baby? What did you do with the baby all day? What were some of your favorite moments with the baby?
BK: Taking care of him felt really good!
E.H.: My favorite time was when we were running outside together. It felt good since he gets to be out in the wild.
S.B.: I put the wrap string on and put the baby in there and held him until the end of the day.
M.H.: I liked taking care of the baby. It was fun building stuff for the baby. My favorite was having him with me, carrying him. He kept me warm.
H.V.-N: It was fun. I liked that he could fly.
L.B.: It feels hard because me and E.H. had to do everything with him, feed him, put him to bed. We had to help him play with his toys, read him stories to bed. We had to put him a blanket, feed him, do everything with him.
O.B.: It felt like the baby liked me.