Our July theme, “Fun Under the Sun,” is manifested in our five new Mallard Ducklings who arrived in a wonderful mass of splashing, playful, fluffy fun. I picked them up from a farmer two days after they had hatched. Ponderings on resilience flourished as I sat in awe of the resilience embodied in our little web-footed friends. There they were, 48 hours out of their eggs and already running around with fluffy downy feathers, little black bills and webbed feet, and a high pitched peep that is audible for quite a distance.
While they cannot yet fly, the ducklings are already mobile on the ground and in water. They also feed themselves and drink water independently. Their greatest need is for protection and guidance. Without water-proofing provided by the mother from her oil gland, they are not water resistant and will eventually become water-logged. They need their parents for warmth and protection from predators. The parents guide the babies to food and keep them in protected territory.
I like the idea of developing resilience as one of our main purposes at Frog Pond. We want our children to be competent in many environments and to prepare them for the eventual flight to independence. While we are charged with their safety as our primary foundation, the next goal is to provide an environment where they can test their ability to walk, run, skip, dance and climb as they explore and build competence within this safe place. Developing their ability to observe, analyze and test their theories will give them skills to navigate through life. Their ability to interact and express themselves will have a huge impact on their success. We want them to be adaptable.
As teachers Sarah and Sue explore and implement the Coyote philosophy of outdoor learning (Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature), I have been impressed with the development of the children’s observational, communication and analytical skills. I am looking forward to the ways that this philosophy will be woven in to our rich environment and curriculum.
In addition to Becky Bailey, Al’s Pals, and nature-based learning, we prepare the children for emergencies by conducting drills for unexpected emergencies, such as a fire or a tornado. Our drills include evacuation and shelter in place scenarios. We explain to the children who are old enough to understand what we are doing and why. Each family should have a plan for what they would do for an “evacuation” or a “shelter in place” emergency. Have a discussion with trusted friends and relatives about having them serve as your emergency backup.
As you and your children explore the joys of summer, I hope you will take advantage of the presence of loving relatives during vacations to give yourselves a break from parenting and allow your children to develop resilience in your absence. It is good for your children to know that an overnight with grandparents or a day trip with Aunt Suzie can be fun and that they are able to do well in your absence. It is also good for Aunt Suzie to know your children and their usual habits and family rules in advance of an unexpected emergency. Think through your emergency plan. Who would be your back up if you suddenly had a medical emergency that placed you in the hospital or if you had to fly out of town to care for a family member in intensive care?
Emergencies happen. Preparation makes them much less traumatic for all concerned. Approaching emergencies with a positive attitude within a network of support builds feelings of strength, adaptability and resilience.
Have a great summer under the sun!
Mother Duck (really!), Pam Tinker