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Children tending to the flowers by our Mother Goose Shoe Play Sculpture
It’s never too early to start teaching valuable life lessons about community and responsibility. At Southold Schools we see an opportunity in guiding our children to take care of their school environment, as in the case of caring for some flowers where there is no irrigation. By giving young children this special responsibility to use an old fashioned watering can and keep the tender flowers alive, we instill a sense that it “is our responsibility” and not someone else’s job to take care of something that is important to us.
School is a wonderful place to start to learn about the importance of caring for our environment. Our school is very fortunate to provide many opportunities for children to take on the role of being a “steward of their part of the world.” At times, the idea of being kind to our planet stems from the children themselves.
We have a spectacular school garden that allows children to plant, cultivate and harvest hundreds of pounds of fresh produce every year as part of their school experience. This idea was stimulated by a group of students who spoke at a Board of Education meeting, asking that we plant a school garden.
In maintaining a school garden, our students learn how to be patient and caring. Unlike so much of our fast paced, highly technological world, taking care of plants requires the grower to allow Mother Nature to take her time. It affords the gardener a chance to study the slow process of growing something, and experience the magic of how tender plants can, with proper attention, grow into healthy, mature plants, vegetables and flowers. When properly fed, kept weed free and watered regularly, we reap the rewards of what we sow.
In the spring of 2018, three girls approached me on the school playground at Southold. They were excited and thrilled to show me that they “volunteered to pick up some litter” to make our school environment more attractive. I later found out that these three girls, Lindsay, Anna and Samantha, were inspired to take action based on a video they saw earlier that day in their fourth grade class. This is a classic example of “think globally and act locally.”
In the video the girls witnessed the damage to sea life caused by the incredible amount of plastic that ends up in the Pacific Ocean, which then threatens marine life, including beautiful giant sea turtles. They decided that they would begin to address the problem by making sure that any plastic straws or other litter on our school grounds would be collected and not end up where it did not belong. Eventually, they recruited other children to help out, and wearing gloves for protection they regularly kept their school environment clean.
Here at Southold Schools we recognize the inherent challenges and opportunities to build citizenship skills starting at a very young age. We go about our work to meet these challenges and take advantage of the opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom walls.