“Out and About Classroom” – Community

OUT AND ABOUT LEARNINGOur world has become a global community, thanks to technologies such as skyping, texting and e-mail.  While this enables us to keep in touch in a broader manner, it also tends to make us look past the day to day people who create the framework of our neighborhoods.

It is often said that many of us don’t know our neighbors.  Growing up, before the age of the internet, we not only knew our neighbors, we were dependent on them.  They kept a safe eye on the children and convened for Bridge nights and mid summer barbeques.  We knew our post man and milk man by their  surnames and there was always a game of stickball or kick the can going on in the street.  We didn’t ever set up formal playdates, but instead, we ran in packs that just magically convened at each others houses after school and on weekends.

 

Today, our neighborhoods are still dependent on the support of those who make it a safe and pleasant place to live. It’s important not only to acknowledge these people, but to learn something about them as well.  Local gardening clubs tend to town squares and village greens.  Who are these people who create an aesthetically pleasing environment? These people who care for the playgrounds and park where our children run and play also have an important role in our communities.  And when our electricity goes out during a storm, leaving us in the dark, it’s the DWP workers who come out at all hours to give us light. Who are these people who create the magic behind the scenes, creating a harmonious place for us to live?

 

The most significant members of our community who establish order and safety are the civic workers. Most fire stations and police stations are happy to host visitors, but it’s always good to call ahead to set up an appointment.  This is a great way for children to get up close to the men and women whose job it is to protect their communities.  It also lessens any intimidation they may have regarding these civic workers.  Take your child on an outing to one of these stations.  Before your visit, come up with a list of interesting questions for the police or the firemen, such as;  how did the Dalmatian become the symbolic firehouse dog, who were the first firefighters, or what is the difference between a police officer and a sheriff?  Delving into the history of these civic jobs gives children a better understanding of their overall roles in the community and teaches them the importance of having these community members in our lives.

Bonus Activity:

It’s important to acknowledge and thank those who go out of their way to make our communities and beautiful and safe place to live.  Have your children create a home made card, bake cookies, or put together a gift basket for your local fire or police station, or even the local grocer, showing them how much they are appreciated.  This teaches your children the true sense of the word community and shows civic workers that they are not doing a thankless job, but that their community truly appreciates the role they play.