“Do you remember that? It was so long ago.”
“Yea I remember that. There I am!”
“There I am!”
Two students were sitting on the rug in Classroom 1, sharing an intimate moment gazing at each other’s Journey Binders. They were looking at images of their class making matzah in the Common Space from about a month prior. A month still represents a significant fraction of our young students’ lives! They continued to explore relationships, using their Journey Binders as a tool for social facilitation. Being with each other “so long ago” seems to affirm the strength of their relationship in the present. One child turns to a full-page picture of herself working in the block area:
“I was building a tower! Where were you?”
“I was right here.” Her friend points just outside of the picture, to a part of the block area cut out of the photograph. “I was right here,” she says it again after a short, thoughtful pause, pointing just outside of the page. I couldn’t tell if she actually remembered this moment or if she was playing with history in order to strengthen the blooming friendship. Nothing in the picture pointed to any other children being in the vicinity.
“I love you,” her classmate replies, quietly but confidently. Whether imagined or real, their past connection was now confirmed through its implication for the present. Whatever was at play here, it seemed to be working…and spreading. “He loves you, too,” she continues, pointing to a boy presently sitting next to them on the rug.
“He was right here,” the first child says, pointing now to the imagined space on the other side of the picture. He is part of our loving relationship; he certainly had to be there, in the “so long ago.” The teachers sang a quick transition song about putting the Journey Binders away and the children moved into their morning meeting circle.
Nursery school is about friendship. You might hear that the “social-emotional curriculum” is at the core of a nursery school experience. What we mean by this is that learning how to relate to others and how to relate to oneself is foundational during the nursery years; the social-emotional curriculum is what allows for all other learning and growth to take place. A large smile crept across my face last week when I dropped of my son, now 14 months, at daycare. As he walked out of my arms and began to explore (drop off always seems to go so much easier than pick up for me!), a classmate toddled over to him, pointing and babbling, “That’s Jonah!” They were more than classmates; they were friends.
Nursery school is a place where children learn about friendship by exploring the very complicated thing of building relationships. They did not have to do this with you, their parents: they are the very fortunate recipient of your love from before they even opened their eyes. The crafting of new relationships, of first friendships, is hard work! Our classroom teachers provide carefully crafted social opportunities, like these quiet moments on the rug with Journey Binders, for our children to explore this work with each other. It isn’t always calm and contemplative, though. Loud moments as block-buildings crash down; messy moments as paint splatters from busy hands; the work of friendship is everywhere in our classrooms. We believe that open, playful experiences, in which children are allowed ample room for creativity and exploration, create the landscape on which friendships are built.
How does your child explore and create friendships? How do you see this taking place at school, at home, on playdates?