Picking out cute clothes, late night diaper changes, and desperately trying to find a babysitter before gym class – this semester students at Miriam High School got a small taste of the joys and sacrifices that come with parenthood in their Child Development Class.
Donna Higgins, who teaches the course, tasked the students with caring for a flour sack baby for just five days.
“The purpose of ‘The Flour Baby Project’ is to develop an awareness of the responsibilities and demands of parenthood,” Higgins said. “It is my hope, through participation in this project, students realize the commitment, time, energy, and sacrifice it takes to care for a baby.”
Prior to the five-day project, the Child Development Class learned about fetal development and the birthing process. They also learned how to care for an infant with lessons on swaddling, feeding, burping, proper holds, and more.
Classes were often full of laughter and excitement as the students took part in a baby shower and created their own flour sack babies. But once the babies “arrived,” the students quickly realized the day-to-day of parenthood and putting their lessons into practice would be harder than expected.
“They were really excited at the beginning of the week to carry their babies with them from class to class,” Higgins said. “As the week went on, the excitement started wearing off, and the added responsibility began sinking in.”
Higgins made sure the lesson extended beyond the classroom and school hours.
“[The babies] also go home with them at night for the 5-day project,” Higgins explained. “On one of the nights, they have to get up with their baby some time between 1:00am and 5:00am, take a picture of their baby, and email it to me. This is to show that they can be responsible and to get up in the middle of the night and take care of their baby.”
The students were able to make it through the project and have now moved on to studying the development of toddlers and pre-K children. But Higgins says she would love to improve on the class by adding more out-of-school activities to do with the students.
“If Miriam had vans, there are several outings I would have loved to have taken my students on, such trips as to baby stores to look at baby essentials and daycares to see the various options,” Higgins said.
Having access to our own transportation for out-of-school teaching opportunities like this is a priority for our Experiential Learning Program.
Higgins also said adding a couple robot babies to the project could expand the students’ learning.
“The flour sack babies can only simulate so much; having students carrying around babies who are crying because they are hungry, need a diaper change, or just want to be held, would add a crucial real-life element to this project.”