The City is Our Classroom by Quynh
At Lake and Park we want to get out and be out in the community. How do you (the class) get around if you don’t have your own vehicles?is often a question I get from curious folks.
The answer sometimes surprises– we walk and/or use public transportation.
Buddies waiting at the for the Light Rail.
Our Mount Baker neighborhood provides many places for us to travel on foot. You will find us at local parks (we so most days), in the nearby meadow, our garden at Colman P-Patch, or on the shores of Lake Washington. We are named Lake and Park for this very reason.
Children at Lake and Park learn early on how to navigate mass transit. We build up to it– children in the Beginning Room travel with the more experienced commuters in the North Room. A “buddy system” helps the younger children get to the bus stop and to get on and off the busses. It also strengthens interpersonal connections across the grades. Earlier this year, we rode the Link Light Rail from the Mount Baker Light Rail Station to Pioneer Square and hopped on a ferry to head over the Bainbridge Island.
En route, we meet people wondering and asking about our whereabouts. Children are used to this query and excitedly respond with not only our destination but how it connects to our current unit of study.
Rose and Vivian sketching the Seattle skyline from the Bainbridge ferry.
Buddies keeping each other company while sketching the Seattle skyline.
Often we take the King County Metro buses. Taking the bus is not always perfect and reminds me that bus ridership has many built in lessons. On a recent trip to Smith Tower, we missed the #14 bus near Pioneer Square. Rather than wait for the next #14 to come in 20 minutes, we made the decision to take a different bus, the #7. Teachers knew that the route would be different and involved a bit more walking, but it would get us to our destination in a more timely manner.
Whilst traveling down Rainier, one of the wires got caught around the pole, disabling the bus. Coincidentally, another #7 was right behind us and we transferred over. It’s times like this that I am reminded that as a bus rider, you must be a planner, you must have patience, and you must be flexible.
Big Room children playing a game while riding the Light Rail.
When it is not possible to take the bus or Light Rail, we ask parents to drop off or pick up at a specific location–often, families arrange a carpool! We are so thankful for the flexibility of Lake and Park families, in this way, children experience for themselves that there are many ways to get around.
Buddies posing in historic Pioneer Square during the Seattle history unit.