Monday, July 11, 2011

Wow, I didn't realize that it was this bad...

Okay, so I've been helping my niece who is the Site Coordinator/Head Teacher for a summer camp. When I say help I mean that I come once a week and do a science class and hang around long enough to help her with whatever else she needs.

I wasn't scheduled to come until tomorrow, but I found out that she was there alone and decided to go help out. I found out first hand what the teachers in the school system are dealing with. The causes of it are a tangled web of issues, but I'll only focus on 3. The issues are a lack of critical thinking/curiosity, poor diet, and a lack of discipline.

I walked in to see a frazzled teacher and wild rambunctious boys. Now understand that my niece is good at what she does, but there is something to be said of being a mother and being older...I'm both. I walked in and got everybody settled. I figured out who hit who, set some new ground rules, divided the room up by age, and began playing games. My group of 3 boys played "Guess Who". I explained the game and got them set up to play. When it was time to ask the questions, all of the children seemed to be at a loss. They couldn't figure out the most basic questions to ask. I was prepared for this, because PS kind of "beats" questioning out of children. When my children first came home they couldn't ask a decent question either. Once we started with "Is you person a man or a woman? Does you person have on a hat?" etc. I stopped feeding them the question and encouraged them to formulate their own questions. I got chirping crickets. They kept repeating the questions that I'd fed them. I asked them to tell me the differences between the people, but they couldn't. Rather than getting discouraged, I realized that we just have more work to do.

A part of the program is that they serve lunch to any child that comes in for free. They don't have to be a part of the summer camp to eat the breakfast and lunch. The food that I've seen is pretty well balanced and healthy. I could tell, however, that these children are being feed on a diet of processed foods, sugars, and a lack of water. I saw silver fillings in their mouths, ashy skin, and discolored eyes. Another sign is that they couldn't focus for more than a few minutes at a time. During the reading time I simply stopped more often during the book time to ask questions to keep them focus. During lunch time, however, they were unable to follow the most simplistic directions given by my niece. Every noise would cause them to be distracted. I had to take one baby's face and hold it until he could focus eye to eye with me so I could give him his next instruction.

Children crave discipline. They need it. It doesn't mean that you scream and yell at them. That is not discipline. It means that you help them to organize their thoughts and actions so that they can sort through them and make good decisions. Unfortunately, this requires time spent with our children and many parents don't have a lot of time. That means that we have to put in some time with children that we didn't birth. It takes a village to raise a child. Well the village is all messed up, so rather than complain, let's heal the village. The children need us. The teachers need our support.

Don't complain about the children that you don't take time with. Don't talk about "other people's kids" because traditionally the children belonged to everyone. They NEED us.