Three years ago, WFS preschool teachers Adrienne Meade and Lisa Morgan noticed while observing their young students’ play that the children seemed especially interested in...babies.
In particular, pretend play involving babies - some wanted to be the baby, while others wanted to be the caretaker. Several of the children, who were three and four years old at the time, had just welcomed new baby siblings into their families, and their teachers wondered if this play was part of them processing the change in their lives and helping them to better understand their new family member.
The WFS preschool program draws from complementary components of the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education, providing students with unlimited possibilities for cooperation, imagination, and discovery. To encourage the children’s questions and inquisitivity around the subject of babies, Teachers Adrienne and Lisa decided to invite the four new baby siblings and their caregivers to class to help answer some of the student’s questions about babies.
Before the baby guests arrived, the class generated a list of questions about babies and created a table. For each baby, they wanted to know:
- How old are you?
- How many teeth do you have?
- What do you eat and drink?
- What makes you feel happy?
- What makes you feel fussy?
When the day of the visit came, the students carefully interviewed the caretakers and observed the babies. To their amazement, the students realized that all four babies had connections (similarities) and differences. They also discovered that the caretakers all shared similar responsibilities, such as feeding, holding, and bathing the babies.
At the conclusion of the study, Teachers Adrienne and Lisa asked their students to complete the sentence, “Babies are…” Some of their responses included:
“I am always amazed by the depth and sophistication of my young students’ thinking,” Teacher Adrienne said. “They show me over and over again that they want to dig deep and make meaningful connections - I just have to provide them with the opportunities and tools to do it.”
Three years later, the study has come full circle with three of the baby subjects now enrolled as students in Teacher Adrienne and Lisa’s class. Their older siblings (now in first and second grades) couldn’t be happier to have them at school with them.