Finding Strength Through Unity

young girl pushes a cart with 3 large pumpkins and one small boy on it

If there is one thing the children in our Edlavitch-Tyser ECC Teva Class want you to know about them, it’s that they are strong! From their backpacks to large tree branches found on nature walks to the pumpkins leftover from Sukkot, the children are constantly impressing upon us their incredible strength and finding ways to use their muscles to pick up, move, push, and carry objects throughout the day.

Strength and power are intriguing concepts that children often explore through their play. The Teva class’s imaginative play primarily revolves around taking on strong, fast, and powerful personas such as cheetahs, superheroes, and firefighters. These personas will transform into a unified team to solve communal problems such as a group of firefighters working together to put out fires on the playground or a “team of doctors” caring for sick teachers and pumpkin friends in the classroom. As the children work together to share their knowledge, theories, and skills, they develop systems and delegate responsibilities to support those they have identified as in need during their role plays.

When contemplating a picnic outside on the playground and how we should prepare for it, one child noted that, “we will need our cheetah strength” to move everything outside. Together the team of Teva class children worked together to help carry the food, picnic blanket, and serving utensils all the way down the hall, down the stairs, and across the sidewalk to the playground without a single spill.

Concepts of heavy/light and modes of carrying objects — especially the natural materials we have been finding on our nature walks — have been an ongoing exploration for the Teva class. While sometimes it feels important for the children to test their individual strength and capability by carrying or moving something all by themselves, we also observe them asking one another for help or offering to lend a hand when they see a friend struggling to carry something. As the children take on increasingly challenging tasks such as pushing a cart full of three giant pumpkins That weighed more than some of the children (yes, we weighed them!), we see them discovering how they can find even greater strength through teamwork and collaboration. I can’t help but make parallels between these young children coming together to carry objects too heavy for them to move on their own and the ways our wider Jewish community is finding strength through unity during such challenging times.

As we move into exploring the upcoming holiday of Hanukkah and are beginning to think about the “big ideas” — the enduring understandings we hope children will come away with — we contemplate values such as resiliency, unity, and strength. We are struck by the values this group of young children demonstrates when they come together around a common goal. We wonder what we as adults can learn from the youngest members of our community about strength and resiliency during a time when many of us are feeling out of control. Children continue to be a source of light and hope even during the darkest of times. Just as the children are reaching out to one another for strength and support, so too can we reach out to our community to find that light in the darkness.