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Why working with young children is magical

Most of my Teaching Artist experience involves working with teens ages 11-17. I also have been working with children ages 6-12 at a homeschooling resource center, which has been equally interesting in terms of how children with 6-years between them relate to one other. Although there is a tendency for the older children to insult the younger children, it is refreshing to see how bullying has become an issue that all schools are now tackling. For instance, I worked with Mima Music to record and document an anti-bullying song and video that the entire Castlewood elementary school in Queens will learn together.

During my internship with the Teaching Artist Project (TAP), I shadowed two co-teachers that work with first graders to write a “Peaceful Warrior” community poem. Children at that age are so full of love (or want to be loved, at this age it is obvious when there are issues at home because of the lack of love). They are still in love with nature and have a natural inclination towards music and art. When I teach at the homeschooling resource center, the kids are always up for something, whether it be working on a school theme song, cooking, learning how to tie-dye or making jewelry. They also thrive on being outside in the world and in the park surrounded by wide open spaces and trees. We are just a 15-minute walk from Prospect Park and if the weather permits, we are usually outside for at least half of the day.

With TAP, we also worked with the children to make community songs. The children loved rhyming and shouting out words. We asked them to make movements for words like “Love” and to find a word that rhymes, while the teacher helped write “Peaceful Warrior” lyrics. We asked the children what they’d like to see improved at the school and one little girl said there was too much trash on the street. She couldn’t understand why there was so much garbage, it was totally unacceptable to her. Older students and adults become apathetic to so many ills in society, and it brings me so much hope that there is always a younger generation that has yet to be socialized to accept injustice and the destruction of our beautiful planet.

Because I’m a filmmaker and musician and I enjoy using technology to create music and movies, I usually prefer to work with older kids. However, I am now more open to working with younger children for a variety of reasons. They are also bombarded with technology and showing them how to use creative programs like Apple Garageband and iMovie helps them learn skills that will be useful in the future in terms of creating their own media instead of just consuming it. I recently worked with 8-year-olds and they wrote fairly advanced songs using Garageband. I was surprised at how quickly they created songs with minimal instruction.

Being an arts educator is so fulfilling. My husband and I dream often, especially when we are struggling to afford childcare for our one year old daughter. We imagine ourselves providing for our family in a creative way, and one idea is to start a micro-school for pre-k children. We would like to teach them how to work with plants and grow food. Our daughter loves to touch the dark brown soil. She has grown up in a mostly concrete world she cries out in blissful joy when she has any exposure to nature.

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