It’s been one week since I kicked off the classroom phase of Reschool Yourself, and I have so much to share. The challenge lies, as always, in time. I’ve been busy adding features to the site and will post more writing this weekend.
As I mentioned in the video log, I finished up in the kindergarten on Monday morning and began rotating through the five first grade classrooms. I prefer staying in one class, to build relationships with the kids, but the first grade teachers each needed my help. There are a few benefits of rotating, such as observing different teaching styles for the same age group, getting to know all the teachers — they’re a cool bunch of women — and meeting a variety of kids.
I do miss my kindergarteners! Since I was part of their very first school experience, they seemed to get as attached to me as I did to them. On Friday, due to another meeting, I came late to school (no, I didn’t need a pink tardy slip). When I walked into the kindergarten, several kids bombarded me with hugs around my waist and exclamations like “Where were you?” and “You’re heeere!” With those long eyelashes and baby-toothed grins, those kids turn me into putty in their hands.
Here are some of my favorite stories from the week (I’ve changed the students’ names):
- Jason is a sweet 5-year-old with fair skin and big blue eyes who wore his strawberry-blond hair in a short bowl cut. On Monday I thought I saw a bald chunk on his head as he passed by. The next day, a boy with a crewcut greeted me on the playground, and it took me a minute to realize that it was Jason. Barbara later told me that, perhaps inspired by his haircut a few days before, Jason had gotten ahold of his dad’s beard trimmer and gone to town not only on his hair, but also on his little sisters’ lovely blond locks. Luckily, he’d shaved the underside of their hair so they could still wear it down and cover the shaved parts. Jason now has to put on sunscreen at recess to protect his bald patch.
- When I came into his first-grade classroom, Jose greeted me with a hug even though he’d never met me before. I may have reminded him of his mom, because he treated me as if he’d known me for years instead of minutes. He followed me around during recess imparting important messages like, “I forgot to tell you that I have a skateboard!” Back in class, as I sat on the rug with the kids packing up for the day, Jose leaned his little head on my shoulder, looked up at me and said sincerely, “Will I ever see you again?” We closed the day with the song “Skinamarinky Dinky Dink,” doing the hand motions to the music, and during the “I…love…you” part, guess who Jose pointed to? This gal.
- One afternoon, the teacher gathered all the kids on the rug to listen to a Curious George story. The room was hushed as the kids listened to the details of the mischievous little monkey and the Man with the Yellow Hat. Suddenly, one of the boys let out a fart that I can only describe as “colossal.” There was silence for a few moments, then several giggles broke out. The teacher caught my eye and smiled with amusement, then told the kids, “Well, that’s something that everyone does. We all do it, don’t we?” Having worked with middle school kids for years, I was stunned that the culprit got away with just a few good-natured laughs. No one backed away or said, “Ewwww!”, and I seriously doubt that the kids remembered the incident the next day, whereas middle schoolers might even taunt someone about it through high school. I enjoy seeing the little ones still untainted by social conditioning. For example, the kindergarten playhouse is most popular with the boys, who bustle around cutting plastic pies and pretend-washing mini dishes, and no one thinks it’s even worthy of comment.
I realize that all these stories are about boys. The girls have been quieter, though there are a few precocious chatterboxes that I adore. When I asked one of them, Iliana, if her gold earrings were adorned with the image of the Virgin Mary (which I’m pretty sure they were), she said, “No, it’s God.”
I’ll continue my rotation through the first grade classrooms tomorrow and Friday, and I’m certain to have more stories for you soon.