Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Work in Progress...


After spending the day working with Aurora's super cool kindergarten class!
Posted by Picasa

I boldly went where many have gone before me---into a kindergarten classroom. Ironically, my daughter has the same kindergarten teacher that I had. This offered a very different perspective--- which is a blessing in itself---always changing shoes so as not to get too comfortable or spoiled in a bad pair of khaki colored boots. I don't know why I am so opposed to those hideous boots, they are just not for me, but I am the type of woman who prefers to walk a mile in Jesus sandals. Fashion aside, the learning environment in a kindergarten classroom is a contagiously enchanting place. Prior to venturing in, I had come to the conclusion that I probably would decide that I didn't want to have any more children after the day was complete. I was wrong. The children brought out a side of me that had been dulled and squelched by the tumultuous seasons of a very weathered life. Coming to them was almost a form of surrender in itself and anytime you can surrender yourself, self is replaced with service. Some of these children are clearly not getting the proper attention at home...I won't speculate as to why, but soon into the adventure, I got a chance to speak to one of the more rambunctious little boys. For much of the morning, he had been constantly scolded by the teacher, stomped his feet a number of times, and grunted like he wanted to punch something. After it had quieted down, he started looking up at the lights in the room. A few moments later, we were at an art table together constructing a rocket and drawing stars and planets. He kept glancing around the room and back up to the lights again. I finally asked him, "Do you see something? Can you see a person that maybe I cannot see?"
He looked at me skeptically, but I assured him I would believe anything he said to me.
"I have a friend named Rachelle. We were close but now I don't get to see her anymore."

Trying on his shoes, I could infer that he had established a deep connection to Rachelle, whom I am guessing is a real little girl he used to go to preschool with and had recently been separated from. Rachelle could also be a light energy-- either explanation is possible. He wasn't deliberately trying to disturb his new classmates, he only longed for the comfort zone he was forced to part with once the first day of kindergarten arrived. In a moment like this, I knew the little boy did not need the scolding that he had encountered from the teacher earlier---he needed empathy.
I continued to smile at him and offered something he could relate to so he didn't have to feel alone in confusion.
"Aurora had a little a boy she was close to in preschool and she has also been sad about not being able to see him anymore too. He went to a different new school, like your friend Rachelle. I know it's hard, but sometimes in life, people come into our lives to make us happy for a time and then for reasons beyond our control, we are split up and have to keep going alone."
"But I really miss her." He spoke like a grown up who had just been cast away from the love of his life.
"Do you dream about her, can you see her when you are asleep?"
"Yes, I have dreamed about her." He beamed.
"Sometimes when we can no longer be together in life, we still make time for each other when we are asleep."

After our conversation, the boy started behaving much better. He didn't need to be reprimanded at all-- he just needed someone to understand his emotions and help him to come to terms with a new school arrangement and different classmates. The school system is an entity of constant transition and with changes come natural emotional response. Make a habit to always extend empathy and compassion first---before consequential punishment. This might be an obvious approach to many, but after my conversation with the boy, I got the feeling that no one had addressed him individually on a level he needed to be reached out to. That's not to fault the teacher at all. But by treating someone like a problem---they become a bigger problem, but if you treat them like a friend, you establish wonderful bonds that encourage positive growth and nurture an ability to be comfortable in their continuous personal development, as diverse and unpredictable as it may be. If a child is habitually excluded from group activities, because he is sitting in a time out chair, he only withdraws further and continues to misbehave. But if he is truly acknowledged and his feelings are recognized as authentic, it triggers happiness and the behavior begins to adjust into enthusiasm for the learning process rather than resisting the changes and doing bad things to gain attention. We are all a constant work in God's progress, children especially, and it is critical to remember that even children have extremely vulnerable moments and need to be treated and spoken to like an adult that has just suffered a severe heartbreak rather than yelled at like a dog that just peed on the carpet. Speaking to them like they are adults is an effective way to ensure that they will grow into mature adults and it is the only way to make beneficial emotional progress and teach them early on that is is healthy to experience, gradually sort through, digest, and eventually release--- all of the emotions that come with natural growing pains.

by Jessica Robbins

No comments:

Post a Comment