The West Village is filled with local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities, and experiences that can be used as the foundation for all kinds of curricular investigations. Prior to the start of school, your teachers and faculty were challenged to immerse themselves in our school’s neighborhood as if they were children, and to imagine our neighborhood as a playground, filled with opportunities for learning, discovery, and exercise! This year, with our school’s overarching theme of connection, we consider the ways we empower the children connect to our broader community by adventuring beyond Barrow. And, we always remember to document, reflect, and share what we learn from our adventures.
EMERGENT CURRICULUM IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD
When we take children on walks we ask questions, make observations, communicate our understandings, and grow as learners. A single block can teach so much. Our city is filled with art, signs, vehicles, and symbols. Often, parents, caregivers, and teachers wonder (ok, maybe worry) if they are doing enough to hit on all the developmental domains. Walks like these remind us to slow down and notice that there are opportunities around every corner. Not only that, integrating learning into the routines of daily life reinforces the reason — the why — for learning something new or even sticking with something challenging. Why learn to read? So we know that that sign says “pizza” and we know where to go for lunch.
The best advice I have for this comes after spending the last two years walking with my daughter, now 2. Follow your child’s lead a little, it goes a long way, and pack snacks. I have found tremendous joy on walks and have learned about things I never expected from listening to and researching answers to her questions. One time, my daughter and I sat outside a bodega watching a sign flash ATM. She learned a new letter from this sign, T and then we went to see a Turtle at a nearby park. If you are having fun, it’s a good bet your child is too.
Here are a few ideas of walks to try out with your family:
1. Literacy Walk: Write down the first letter of everyone in your family’s name (for younger children you might just do the first letter in your child’s name). Go for a walk and find all places you see those letters.
2. Math Walk: Count your footsteps between favorite places. How many footsteps to your favorite local park? How many to the grocery? How many footsteps to get to Barrow Street from your home?
3. Art Walk: For this you will need a naked crayon (Take the paper off a crayon) and paper. Find textures in your environment and make rubbings by laying the paper flat on a surface and rubbing the wide part of the crayon on top. Describe the textures as you rub them (you could even make a literacy connection here and write down your child’s words on the rubbings drawings).
4. Connecting Walk: You really can’t learn a thing if you’re wired and a walk can really help a frazzled child and adult find calm together. Try walking with your child and noticing aloud all the things that bring you calm; the leaves of the trees in the sunlight overhead, the wind in your face, the smile of a kind person who looks you in the eyes. As you both find your grove invite your child to notice these things too and learn more about where they find their calm.
Have fun and let us know how it goes!