As I write this, the first snowflakes of the season are coming down on Brussels, and I am preparing to leave for Italy in 24 hours. Many of the children have already left on holiday, leaving my assistant teacher and I with eight students today and tomorrow; everything seems to be going just right.
Last night, my husband and I went to a Christmas party at the house of one of my students from last year. I see him often - he's up in the Kindergarten - but he is always proud to show me his things at home. He was showing me his books and dinosaur toys, and then he saw his portfolio from Preschool. His older sister joined us with her preschool portfolio, and we spent the next 20 minutes looking at their artwork, with them asking me to read the quotes the teachers had written.
There was a moment when the girl uncovered a collage that was made of a piece of corrugated cardboard, with different soft and rough items glued onto the top. When she saw it, she said, "Oh!! A texture collage!" Her happiness in finding that was genuine.
So for all of those parents who are wondering "what to do" about portfolios or 20 paintings a week, or reams of paper that have the same dinosaur drawn on every single sheet, here is a lesson in the importance of those things. Just as we make work available in the classroom for children to reflect on, make their work available at home, too. All it takes is a box. And every once in a while, the child will be looking for something to do, and they'll empty out that box, look at everything, and put it back. Or maybe an old painting can be repurposed as a collage or part of a new sculpture. Who knows? But children's work doesn't just come home for you - it comes home for them, too.