The Sword & Banner

Children Will Be Children

Augustine School Blog

Children Will Be Children

By Cathy Windham | Photo Credit: Playground Trinity Play Park 1900, Dallas Public Library

Children will be Children

There is a spot on a tile on the floor in my classroom that reminds me of a former student. This particular spot is scuffed and scraped and discolored from where the glaze has been permanently rubbed off the floor. The floor has been buffed and cleaned, and yet the spot remains. This former student who made the spot was a favorite! Curious, easily excited, always smiling, always talking, and always, always moving. He blessed me daily and brought me much joy! And the infamous spot was created by a special stool that allows wiggly children to be their energetic selves.

My purpose here is not to give a product review for said stool, but rather to reflect on what that spot on the floor reminds me when I see it: we were created to move and talk. Anyone who works with children knows that they move a lot. And talk a lot. And when we understand the imago dei, we know that children at play – in motion, in conversation – were created to play. And we can further understand that play is a natural way that young children learn.

Yet Classical Christian classrooms are supposed to be places of order, reverence, respect, and self-control. Does that mean we are only ever to have rows of desks perfectly aligned with students sitting straight in their chairs, feet on the floor, and hands folded neatly upon their desks? No, because it is possible to allow children to be children while holding them to high behavior standards that reflect obedience, orderliness, and self-control.

Classical Christian classrooms are supposed to be places of order, reverence, respect, and self-control. Does that mean we are only ever to have rows of desks perfectly aligned with students sitting straight in their chairs, feet on the floor, and hands folded neatly upon their desks? No, because it is possible to allow children to be children while holding them to high behavior standards that reflect obedience, orderliness, and self-control.

Purposeful Movement

I am not being an effective teacher if I allow my students to talk while I am talking. But because I know that students need to talk, I purposefully plan talking time throughout the school day. My students are grouped together for meaningful discussions during reading and paired up for partner work in math. It is in these learning moments that students are out of their desks, spread all over the classroom, laying on the floor, sitting together at a table, or propped up on pillows in the classroom library.

Moving and talking are a natural part of my second grade classroom, but both are purposeful. Yes, there are moments when I require them to sit still with eyes on me. I am training them to restrain their own desires to make noise, wiggle around, or any other number of child-like behaviors and to yield their attention to an authority outside of themselves. In time, they grow in patience, self-control, and respect – the very virtues that I want to instill in them. I see the children in my care as children who are learning to submit all things, including their active bodies, to the lordship of Christ.

Lessons from the Playground

Appropriate play can be a part of the classroom and the outside can become a classroom as well. At Augustine School, occasional spontaneous chants of Stevenson and Longfellow poems can be heard while children are swinging. After hearing a story about The Revolutionary War, our playground becomes the Lexington Common in 1775, and my students are the Red Coats and the Minute Men. The playground is a perfect setting for children to act out the stories they have learned in class!

We give our Augustine students extended amounts of time for recess and play because we know the value of play. God has provided Augustine School with a wonderful setting for our students to explore and make-believe. We are blessed to have a wooded campus where students often use nature to create and build during their recess time.

We give our Augustine students extended amounts of time for recess and play because we know the value of play. God has provided Augustine School with a wonderful setting for our students to explore and make-believe. We are blessed to have a wooded campus where students often use nature to create and build during their recess time. The small hole at the base of a tree combines with twigs and rocks to become a tiny house for a tiny imaginary person, as two of my students pretended last year. The trails surrounding the school allow our older students to walk together and enjoy conversation. The trees on our campus provide the perfect spots for hanging hammocks so that our upper school students can experience a taste of scholé and leisure.

Recess provides children with an open setting where they can choose what game to play and with whom they would like to play it. Of course, this level of freedom comes with the responsibility of learning how to be a peacemaker and to resolve conflicts in order to keep the game going. In this age of screens and screen addiction, our children must be given opportunities for physical activity. The physical act of running, swinging, sliding, and moving up and down on a seesaw does amazing things to a child’s brain. Even Plato in 4thcentury B.C. Greece understood the importance of physical activity.

The Mind, Body, and Spirit

The traditional education model says “classroom for the brain, recess for the body.” Classical Christian education says that education is for the whole person. God did not create us as merely spirits with a body. Our bodies, minds, and spirits are inextricably linked. We don’t want to teach the mind while tying down the body, but we also don’t want to exercise the body without engaging the brain…and neither can be done without nourishing the soul.

2 Comments
  • Brian Clay Johnson
    Posted at 14:38h, 25 September Reply

    Awesome article! My wife and I are so very pleased that our son Zach began his scholastic journey this year at Augustine in Mrs. Fuller’s class.

  • Joan Garner
    Posted at 20:18h, 25 September Reply

    Loved this article! Love this school!

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