For a couple of decades I ran a small private school and the driveway once had a pothole. A parent and I were chatting about how happy we were to get it fixed “so we wouldn’t have to worry about a spring breaking.” Her son piped up, “I don’t have to worry about my spring break. I always get one in March.”
A good beginning to a school day is a patriotic song and pledge we all know so well. Or do we? A young child asked if it was time to sing the “Star Fangled Banner.“ Is that a new-fangled melody or a Halloween song?
Then, of course the Pledge of Allegiance brings more than its share of humorous interpretations. Some children probably think the founding fathers liked liver, as they say “with liverty and justice for all.” In fact, if you have any young friends, I feel sure they’ve told you about the Statue of Liverty. Television has even made its mark on the Pledge, as I’ve noticed one child saying “one nation underalls” in complete seriousness.
The Challenges of Communication
Our students develop quite a loyalty to their work. One mother called me and said her daughter was furious that the mom wouldn’t bring her to school at 5:00 a.m. This child was sure that I had asked her to come then. (I had said she could come in five minutes early and I’d help her with a hard page!) Who said listening was easy?
The ear can play tricks on the wisest of scholars. We were singing the ballad of Casey Jones and the kids were really into it. Some sang of the tunestone that was in the seminary with such fervor. When we finished singing a boy looked at the cloudy sky and reminded us there was a 60 perchance of rain.
We encourage children to help each other. One boy was willing to spell the word wanted for another child. He clearly spelled one did.
Later we wrote letters and a student wondered if we should send them with the mailman or partial post. (People sometimes complain about lost mail–maybe it was sent partial post so the job was only partially done.)
Reading is no easier. We were studying vocabulary and a boy had the word “cologne.” Another said he knew what it meant: “A clone is a person that looks just like you.” One boy said his dad watched that commode Jay Leno at night Teachers call him a comedian. For some reason, I took a few extra turns reading that day so I could pronounce the words the way I was used to hearing them.
One of my highest points as a reading teacher was when a knee high reader got excited about the brochure I handed out, and asked with his whole heart, “When will we go to see the book fairy?” (The flyer was about the book fair.) Who said details aren’t important?
Interacting With Society and the Greater World
Social Studies brings us all into the middle of our world. While we were reading a weekly newspaper one child read to us of the Yahtzee (as in dice game?) River. I knew China had stopped saying Peking to say Beijing, but I guess they changed the Yangtze’s name since I was in school.
Every year we study community helpers. When the fire engine passed by a boy noted, “There goes a communion helper.” I have seen candles at communion . . . but never actual fires.
I read the students an exciting story when we studied The Revolution. That day at recess a child was heard to yell, “Decease and desist!”
The presidents always provide stimulating conversation. But time concepts involved in history are terribly difficult to grasp. I mentioned that we used to have a president named Jackson. A kid wondered why the president changed his name to Bush. I knew the Bushes had been around a while, but not that long!
When I send my children to lunch I try to say something positive like, “Have a nice lunch.” One day my brain shorted out. A child asked to go to the restroom about lunch time and I caught my mouth saying, “Have a nice. . .” Thank goodness, my tongue stalled out at that point.
At lunch we relax from our hard labors and visit. One boy’s brother and sister is sick with the chipmunks. I’d always heard it called the chickenpops. I guess chickenpox changes from generation to generation. . .
One gal shared how her grandad was overjoyed with his new truck. Then a fellow reminded me that Friday was garbage delivery day.
I was bragging on the class for coming in from lunch quietly and a boy explained, “That could be our New Year’s Revolution.” In fact, they did so well that day that we had extra time for computer liturgy.
But that was all so long ago, as a first-grader reminded me recently on a rainy day. He told me of the time when he couldn’t read. . . “when I was just a little boy.”
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Permission from author required for republication.