I had a sad day today. My classroom children are doing well, but I worry about when they go on to Second Grade and higher. In my room, we play, we laugh, we sing, we dance, we read, and we talk about who we are and why that's just fine.
However that same environment is not replicated where ever a child might end up.
My own First Grader at home is a lovely, beautiful, charming, funny, and VERY intelligent 6 year old.
When he had only just turned 5 (August 28) I sent him to Kindergarten because he was already reading and doing lots of higher level math and thinking skills. I thought Kindergarten was, well, what Kindergarten had been when I was there. I had been teaching Middle School and working in non-profits. I didn't know. I really didn't.
Now he's in First Grade. His school is small, just a K-2 with only 3 classes of each grade and only 15-18 kids in a class. The teachers are teaching what they are supposed to. They seem nice, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of, I don't know, play and joy and singing and sometimes...well, sometimes doing nothing. Why do 5-9 year olds have to work so damn hard? What will they lack if they play? We play so much in my classroom and my kids know a lot. I'll be judged I know by their scores in the Spring, but I still think it'll be fine.
Anyway, back to the point. Yesterday my beautiful son told his teacher (and his Principal) that he didn't want her for a teacher next year. He is supposed to have her for 2nd grade because he is in a looping class. I asked him why he feels this way and he says he just wants someone different next year. He says he's fine, but if he had his choice he wouldn't be in that room next year. He "just wants to meet other teachers and kids."
I didn't really have to ask him why. I knew why. His light isn't there this year. He's tired. He misses the joy. I can't see it anymore and I feel grief the size of which I can find no words to describe.
It brings me to this. When did we stop singing in the morning? When did we decide children didn't need to learn to knit or sew? When did we stop cooking with our kids and start putting them on computers without our supervision? When did we think an iPad app was better than drawing a picture or reading a Caldecott award winning book?
Am I getting too Waldorf-y? Too earthy?
All I know is that I wish all children could feel like school is joyful and exciting and challenging, not miserable. Not something to get through. I think this, and this alone, might help raise scores.