Pentucket Regional High School Seniors Learn Parenting Skills with Sock Babies

Student Kierra Zaneski’s sock baby named Quiera. (Courtesy photograph.)

Pentucket Regional High School seniors recently took part in a project designed to simulate taking care of a young child.

Early last month, students in teacher Ruth Beaton’s AP Psychology class took care of sock babies as if they were actual children as part of the Developmental Psychology Unit. Students created their babies in class from socks, buttons and other materials; named them; and chose their age and gender.

“Just like in a maternity ward, we had a day where the babies were born,” Beaton said.

The project was designed to present some of these challenges of parenthood while reminding students of the principles of Developmental Psychology. Students analyzed aspects including gender roles, stranger anxiety, temperament, attachment styles and more. They were also encouraged to reflect upon parenting styles, including authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and uninvolved styles, and decide which one they wanted to use to parent their sock baby.

“The way you parent affects the development of a child. How you take care of a baby really affects how they are going to grow up and develop and how healthy they will be. We had to think about all these things and what we would do if these babies were real children,” student Brianna Whyman from Merrimac said.

For the duration of the five days, students provided their sock babies with around-the-clock care, ensuring their health and wellbeing. The sock babies could not be left unattended. Students were required to bring them to each one of their classes in an appropriate baby carrier. Carriers could be handmade, donated or purchased.

Teachers, staff and administrators outside of Beaton’s class were aware of the assignment and assisted in supervising the students’ parenting skills throughout the school day.

If students could not supervise their sock baby during or after school, they had to enlist a qualified caretaker, whether it be a friend, parent, or older sibling.

“All of my friends, including those not in the class, really enjoyed the project and felt like they were a part of it. Even if they just helped babysit while I stepped away for a minute,” said student Gavyn Otero from Groveland.

“The whole school was in on the project and all the teachers knew. Babies were everywhere; in the hallways and classrooms. The project wasn’t just in this class. It was all day everywhere,” added student Nora Landry from West Newbury.

At the end of the five days, students reflected on their time with their sock baby, including both difficult and joyous moments that they experienced, as well as how they have grown throughout the project.

“I always forget things, like my keys, but taking care of this baby really helped me work on remembering things. I always had to be on top of my game and always keep in mind the needs of the baby,” said student Ryan Plisinski from West Newbury.

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