The Butterfly Garden Story
The butterfly garden did not look much like a garden. It was simply an empty box with clear plastic viewing windows and a few perforations to allow air to circulate. It was a barren environment, but the larvae hatched and grew fat as they ate the special food mixture.
The children peered through the windows of the box, intrigued as the metamorphosis unfolded. The butterflies emerged wet-winged, unsure, yet beautiful. As their wings dried and strengthened we watched the miraculous creatures flutter about erratically, bumping into the sides of the box. There was nowhere to go; no branches to explore; no blossoms to suckle; no wind to ride. The environment that had allowed the caterpillars to thrive was terribly wrong for the young butterflies. What nature had intended to be graceful and joyous had instead become unnaturally clumsy and frustrated.
The caterpillar and the butterfly require different environments and care to grow and thrive. The same is true for young children. Each day we face anew the challenge to create the perfect, developmentally appropriate environment for every young child. We will most likely fall short from time to time because we, too, are growing and learning. Nevertheless, we must constantly take time to reflect on our practice...to reassess what we are doing in light of what we dare to achieve.
The butterfly garden sits abandoned now. (The children knew what needed to be done.) And the butterflies are soaring -free to explore the world.
-- Sandra Crosser, Ph.D.