Friday, January 27, 2012

We survived Snowpocalypse 2012! The ice has melted and we have been back in the routine at school this week, sharing stories of sledding and sliding and snow forts and reading books by the fire.

It got me thinking. We missed a week of school. But did our kids miss a week of learning? I asked our lower school students this morning at our weekly gathering and they couldn’t wait to tell me what they learned last week…

“Never drive in the snow and ice!”
“I figured out how to build an igloo!”
“I watched the weather all day to see if we would be able to go to school the next day or not.”
“I learned to make huge snowballs. I have a sister, you know!”

When I asked how much snow had fallen at their houses, they told me how many inches and how they had measured it. And how they got their sleds to go fast. And how to make a really big snowman. And how many layers of clothes it took to stay warm. And, for some, what it’s like to live without electricity for one or two or five days.

Our students live and breathe learning. They absorb more than just facts. They ask questions, make predictions, explore hypotheses, analyze ideas, create, critique and synthesize all the time. At Seabury, we facilitate learning that goes beyond rote knowledge and emphasizes the development of strong habits of mind and creativity. Our children, beginning with our youngest prekindergarten students, are asking complex questions and looking beyond the surface to explore ideas more deeply. 

But the core love for learning, the quest for discovery and invention and exploration, is evident in our children no matter where they go and what they do. Just think for a moment about how your child spent last week. What insights and discoveries happened? What new ideas were explored? What predictions were tested? What creations emerged?

It’s important for parents to recognize that learning is not limited to school, or to that which happens with paper and pencil. Because noticing the ways in which your child learns and grows from each and every interaction is an amazing gift.

Our teachers at Seabury are skilled at asking questions and providing the framework in which learning occurs at a complex and high level. They are masters at knowing when to let an activity or discussion keep going and when to steer in a different direction. And our kids take what they are offered and run with it. Just this week, the prekindergarten kids, when making penguins out of toilet paper rolls, decided they wanted to do a play with their penguins. Suddenly sets were being created, roles rehearsed, lists of rules for the audience dictated and decisions were made about ticket prices. This was not learning that could be contained on a worksheet – it was economics and stagecraft and literacy and art and music and cooperation and organization and … that is what learning is about at Seabury.

But learning doesn’t stop here. At home, learning isn’t limited to homework time or to workbooks or formal lessons. A trip to the grocery store, a board game, doing the laundry, a discussion about politics, making a blanket fort, even fighting with a sibling – all of these are learning experiences. 

It is a joy to watch your children light up with new discoveries. I wonder what learning is in store this weekend …

– Sandi Wollum, Head of School

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