Room to Grow at the Family Center and Preschool
Joy Roberts, Family Center Administrative Assistant
Laura Obuobi, Preschool Assistant Teacher
“If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”
— Mohandas Gandhi
Wise words, and at the Family Center and Preschool we believe that it’s never too early to begin to show children how they can change the world!
Service Learning is an experiential approach to teaching and learning that integrates meaningful service with instruction and reflection. Service Learning in the Family Center and the Preschool starts in the classroom. Children are taught to share with one another, take care of and respect each other, work as a team, and take care of the space and the resources they use everyday. It is with this foundation of empathy and understanding that we launched the Room to Grow project with our students.
Room to Grow at the Family Center
After the Fall Break our two-year-olds had an opportunity to get involved in their first service learning project of the school year. Room to Grow
is a community-based organization whose mission is to enrich the lives of babies born into poverty throughout their critical first three years of development. Through the Room to Grow program, parents receive developmental information, support, and all of the needed baby items to ensure a healthy and secure start for their child.
Family Center parents were asked to go through their children’s outgrown clothing and toys, and to bring them to the Family Center where they could be donated to the Room to Grow organization. But this wasn’t just about dropping off donations! Both at home and in the classrooms, parents and teachers were talking to the children about how they could share with other children by giving them the clothes that they could no longer wear and toys they had outgrown. As with our Book Drive
last May, the children got to experience giving something to another child that he or she would be able to use.
Projects like Room to Grow give the Family Center children an important foundation on which they will be able to build as they get older and start to understand the world around them and the unique ways that they can make a positive difference. Many of the children came in with their bags of clothing and toys, proudly dropping them into the donation boxes knowing that another child could use them. On Friday, December 5th, we had two carloads of gently used clothing, shoes and toys that several Family Center parents volunteered to take to the Room to Grow offices in Brooklyn.
Preschoolers Support Room to Grow
The BFS Preschool has participated in the Room to Grow project for the past three years; and it was introduced to the Preschool by a former Family Center parent. So it started off as an opportunity to partner with the Family Center in supporting the broader community.
Children were told that the whole point of the Room to Grow project was to share with other members of our society, just as they share with their classmates at school. They understood that it was similar to how they share toys and resources in the classroom when a member of their classroom community needed something they were using. This framing emphasized sharing and giving to others, and provided important context about the project that our students could understand.
To kick off the drive, each class in the Preschool beautifully decorated the collection bins that would be placed by the elevators. In the few days that followed the bins were filled to overflowing, and every time the children walked by the elevators they would notice, and comment on the collection and how much it was growing. Decorating the boxes, and then seeing them filled showed our students the concrete impact of their efforts and added meaning to the conversation. Teachers spoke with their students about how if everyone does a little bit, a lot gets done. Our young students are beginning to understand how whatever they do can make a difference.
Click here to read more about how service learning manifests in the classroom with our youngest students at Brooklyn Friends School, and for helpful language that adults can use with young children about how to make a positive difference in the world.