In the class Human Growth & Development, students were assigned a project in which they carry around a baby made out of flour or sugar to simulate life as a parent of a newborn. The students had the artistic liberty to design the baby to appear realistic, but not all are decorated. Guidelines for this project require students to have their “baby” with them at all times for the span of a school week from January 7th to 11th, which would mean that participants would still do their normal daily tasks while accompanied by a “child.”
To the average teenager, this task may seem daunting; however, the “parents” of the flour and sugar babies did an excellent job, keeping their cool and simulating caring for the child in a calm fashion.
“This project is a simulation of a real life parenting situation where [the students] should be having a 24 hour responsibility of having and caring for a child,” Ms. Lancaster commented.
Most kids seem to think that this is a challenging project because they are not used to taking one thing around at all times with them, unless it is their phone. “This project has made me realize that there is more to taking care of a baby then feeding and providing a shelter,” said Jasmine Britt, a 10th grader.
Many teenagers these days think that parents do not really have a hard job, and that they just need to feed the children and change their diapers or that the baby only sleeps and cries.
But early into the project, students quickly learned that parents need to give their baby attention 24/7 along with the essentials, and even have to give up their sleeping schedule for the child. “I had to wake up every morning and text Ms. Lancaster every morning and tell her what exactly my baby is doing,” said Kirstin Williams, a 10th grader. Parents typically adjust their sleep schedule to three to four hours a night to accommodate to the needs of their baby. But if you look at the daily schedule, it is a bit different and a little more relaxing.
When caring for a flour or sugar baby, the daily schedule mimics that of caring for a real life baby. The weight of the flour and sugar bags is very similar to a real baby’s weight. “My daily schedule goes as follows— I wake up and change the diaper. Then I re-swaddle the baby, and then I come to school and take it everywhere and then “feed”
it. Lastly, I take it home and then it repeats,” explains Senior Lizzy Mcmillan. To make the experience even more real, they have to do an hourly check up on what the baby is doing. They could report something similar to, “the baby is napping, the baby is eating,” and other basic tasks similar to these. Though this might seem fairly simple to some, doing this project also comes with great mistakes throughout the entire week-long process.
This project is not the easiest project in the world. For starters, you have to carry around a five pound flour or sugar bag all day. Five pounds may not seem like much, but it becomes tiring and difficult after only a few hours. Some students reported that the bag got heavy and caused their forearms to hurt in the first couple hours of the project. “The flour bag [became] tiring and heavy very fast and it was a little hard carrying the baby everywhere,” Britt added.
The students taking care of their flour and sugar babies not only have to carry the “child” alone, but also have their school bag and other school essentials to carry around with them. This is added weight to the entire process of the project.
Additionally, some students have said that other students would try to grab or touch the bag which caused more difficulty and was a nuisance for the students. These difficulties obviously create some mistakes in the process. “During the span of a couple of days I have dropped the baby 3 times and left it with other people to take care of her,” Britt commented.
But those were not the only mistakes made. Some people left them in their classrooms, while other people left them at home. Some of the flour and sugar babies even had to suffer their head falling off.
Though there may have been a lot of ups and downs in the process of this project, It really changed the perspectives for the participating students on what the average parent does on a daily basis, and how hard it actually is to be a parent. “This project was a good example of what a real parent would go through, and what their daily tasks would look like,” says Kay Butterfield, 10th grade.
The flour babies project is a unique and interesting assignment, that prepares students for a life after highschool.