A key focus of Avenues this 2017–18 year is embracing a connected culture within the walls of the school. We aim for frequent, meaningful exchanges among faculty, staff and students across divisions. This year in the Avenues Small World program for 2-year-olds, the children enjoy regular visits from Upper Division music students. These visits are special because of the way they connect students both big and little in an engaging and memorable way that incorporates music, dance and sensory experiences.
During a typical visit, which happens a few times a week, Upper Division students come to the Small World classroom with their musical instruments. Students bring their trumpets, trombones, saxophones and even djembes! Teachers often provide the bridge that connects these older students to their younger and more timid counterparts, while some young students happily approach the bigger visitors, smile and say hello!
Upper Division students play their instruments, show their little friends the parts of the instruments, and encourage them to play the instruments together with them! The young children laugh as they push the keys of the instruments, hit the drums and dance along as the bigger students play a song.
These visits proceed in an organic way, with the Upper Division students sometimes putting down their instruments and joining the little ones in their play. Together they pull on slime, help with puzzles and talk about the kinetic sand the 2-year-olds are using to make shapes in the sensory table. Before too long, it is time for the bigger children to say goodbye to the younger children until the next visit.
These regular visits encourage a connected culture within the Small World program; the younger students can hardly believe that the “big kids” are also students at Avenues. The feeling might be mutual among the older students! With so many big and little learners spanning across the divisions of the school, there is endless potential to build bridges in our connected culture.
This article was originally published on Avenues New York OPEN on May 2, 2018.