We made a lot of discoveries on the playground during last weekend’s Seedlings family work day.

Lizard eggs, tiny as marbles… cotton plants bearing puffy white snowballs… a giant toad sitting grimly behind the storage shed… and my favorite: hidden underneath the grass that had taken over one of our little gardens, a single pineapple plant.

I smiled as soon as I saw it. I knew that pineapple! Seishi and I had planted it last year on one of my helper days. That is to say we planted it and dug it up and replanted it and watered it and dug it up and moved it and replanted it and talked about it and dug it up again and replanted it… After all that, I was excited it had made it through the summer.

Seeing it made me excited to be a Seedlings parent helper again too.

At its best, Seedlings is pure unadulterated childhood. It is truly a magical place. As parent helpers, we get to help create that.

Once they walk through the Seedlings gate, adults are required to be “plugged in”–not to their cell phones or laptops–but to the children. We are all asked to be present to the children and what they’re doing in the now.

Being a helper. The ‘show’ the kids were setting up for in this photo was aaaall about the process. I’m not sure that an actual show ever materialized, but there was lots of planning and negotiating going on!

And what are the children doing? They’re digging in the sand, riding trikes, covering themselves in paint or shaving cream, performing science experiments with baking soda and oil and vinegar, swinging, playing family, building forts, discovering caterpillars in the garden, baking muffins, solving problems and navigating relationships.

It’s our job as helpers to stand back, keep the children safe, and facilitate in whatever way we’re needed. Aside from being plugged in and present, we’re asked to be sensitive to the children and their play, to observe, to listen, and to learn.

And sometimes to be patient too, because a lot of activities at Seedlings (like planting that pineapple with Seishi) are all about the process.

Everybody’s always learning here at Sunflower–children, parents, teachers. We’re all here to look out for each other. We’re building a real community for our families, and it’s exciting to be a part of that.

I can’t wait for my first helper day. Hopefully I’ll get to show Seishi our pineapple!

Seedlings parents, what are you most looking forward to as a helper this year?


© Jaime Greenberg and Sunflower Creative Arts, 2011
Photo © Haidor Truu 2011