In my primary-grade classes, we use crayons in much of our work, and the kids really seem to enjoy that aspect of Spanish time. Many of them don’t have crayons at home, so school was the place to express budding artistic talents. But it was quite perplexing that there was an unusual amount of broken ones.
I noticed especially the kindergarten and first graders had lots more when I collected at the end of class. So on Monday, I asked one little boy why he thought this occurred so much. Was it just being vicious? Or a lack of respect for the property of someone else?
He told me with a straight face, “Ms. __________, when the crayon gets way down to the paper, we want some more color, but we can’t get to it. But if you break it in half, there’s more.” So there it was–their own version of necessity being the mother of invention. Their lack of patience and still-developing finger dexterity wasn’t enough to peel the paper from the crayons, so they just broke it, and voila!, more color was revealed!
Teaching Spanish to the little ones can sometimes be a blend of funny and frustration.
One of my second-grade girls, was having a bit of trouble with remembering words for the basic colors. Now, having been at the school a couple of years before teaching Spanish, I had her in kindergarten, and of course, we learned the words then. When I reminded her about this, she gave me an exasperated look, and said: “Ms. ______, I already have way too much stuff to remember from this year! How can you expect my brain to keep all of that stuff back from a long time ago?
I explained that knowledge is like a a layer cake—you build upon each segment of learning, but she wasn’t having have any part of that. she just kept saying, “My head can only hold on so much stuff…” Go figure!
One of the saddest tasks no teacher, [even a guest teacher] likes to see is a hungry student. Too many times I’ve had to keep a small supply of juice, healthy snacks, and fruit when a number of my kids would come to school cranky and stressed out because their stomachs had precedence over their brains.
A recent story presented on the CNN network, Students going hungry, highlights some of the woes faced when childhood hunger has such a large presence in many urban schools. This is a serious problem that has grown over the last year.
Featured is Bill Shore, founder and executive director of the national non-profit, Share our Strength. The organization produced a powerful report on hunger in the classrooms. One of the points that came up was that for every 10 teachers surveyed, 4 spent an average $25 per month out of their pockets on food.
As someone who has worked at several of schools in my city, I’ve witnessed crying, sullenness, sleeping, and aggressive behavior, usually stemming from the child not receiving enough nutrition to get them through the day. Unfortunately, school meals are often the only decent meals that kids have–but what about when they leave school in the afternoon? What about the weekends, Or when school is out for vacations? Where are those nutritious meals they need to have?
Despite the necessary push for academic excellence, it’s just as important to focus on what goes into the mouth, as well as what goes into the mind.