I had just put all the toys & materials in order in our little children’s toy and work area. A visitor commented that it looked “over-neat.” I think she feared that I didn’t allow the children to really play. But that’s not the case.
One important thing I’ve learned from Maria Montessori is that beauty and order provide the constructive blocks of a child’s mind. They need those elements in their life. And until they can themselves create that beauty and order –which can often take more years than over-worked parents & grandparents would want–we’ve got to do it. What’s best is for an adult to stay close by to help at the end of a project or play; but without that leisure, cleaning up is necessary.
My granddaughter Kalle saw the movie “Bag It” in July. She was so unhappy about the birds and turtles dying from ingesting the plastic, she wanted to do something about it. She asked her parents how can we stop this and they told her that the government needed to change the laws. She dictated a letter to her mom, “Dear Government, There is too much plastic in the ocean…” but didn’t know how to go further than that.
I decided I wanted to help her with this and asked if she’d like to start a club. She was enthusiastic and we invited a few friends. I asked Ana, age 13, to be secretary and supplied her with a blank book and pen. After a bit of chaos, Ana asked me to help. So I asked, “What’s the problem?” inviting the youngest children to speak first. They spoke, Ana wrote. Then I asked, “What do we need to do?” and they went around again. Everyone had a lot to say, including Flossie saying we should never bring balloons to the beach because they can fly into the ocean.
We decided to give the letter to the mayor and did so. Now we are trying to make 20 cloth bags to sell to raise the money to join Roots and Shoots, Jane Goodall’s network of children’s clubs.
The club–6 children, 3 adults– met with Mayor Myrick on Monday, September 24th to talk about their proposal to ban plastic shopping bags in Ithaca. Karryn brought in a huge bag of bags–750 of them–the quantity that one Wegman’s store collects in one hour for recycling [does anyone know what this process is?].
Each child spoke about one aspect of their thinking. Kalle talked about why she started the club, due to her concern for the animals eating the plastic. Kaliani expanded on the reasons for doing so–the Texas size island of plastic that photo-disintegrates into small bits, looking like bits of food to many forms of animal life. Anamolina presented their proposal–to end the use of plastic shopping bags and charging for paper bags [as they do in Seattle] to encourage the use of cloth bags. And Noah and Flossie presented one of the cloth bags that the children made to the mayor.
The mayor was delighted and delightful, very supportive and respectful. He spoke about the need to get the county on board, and said he wanted to video the children to present to the town and county boards.
We were delighted too.