Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Metamorphosis in Kindergarten

     I teach kindergarten in a very small school.  Most of my kids come from low-income families -- nearly all are on free or reduced lunch, and 5 children have had parents in jail sometime this year.  They tell me things that break my heart and when I am especially frustrated, I try to remember how hard life is for many of my children.  Last week, we had a story about moving in a moving van, and the question in the book was, "Why do people move?"  The first answer given was, "Because they have cockroaches in their house!"  So I said, "Have any of you ever moved?" Several hands went up. So I asked why they moved. Here are some of the answers given by my little ones: 
-- The house is nasty
--You got kicked out
--The house is too old
--You get rats
--The house breaks
--a fire
--A tree fell on your house
-- A snake was in the yard and no one was watching the kids and someone got bit
-- Mean people
--  ___ was mean to my mom so we moved.
    Not one suggested moving because of a new job or needing a larger house.  How sad.  
       This is the time of year when we have to start assessing each child to see how much they have learned. It is very time-consuming -- my assistant has done about all of the teaching this week so I could test.  One little book included in the tests is about being helpful.  I was instructed to ask, "How are you helpful at home or at school?"  One little one said, "I always give my mommy a hug when she feels bad.  I wiped some tears off when my daddy and mommy was fussing at home."
         Last week when we were making Mothers Day cards, one crumpled his up and threw it in the trash. 
         I always say this is my mission field.  A clean and colorful place where the little ones can feel safe and loved and dream of better days.  But even with cockroaches and no clean socks and and fussing parents at home, many of the parents are doing the best they can because they love their children and want the best for them.  It is a huge responsibility to keep kids and parents motivated to do homework when the situation at home is so challenging. But. They come in smiling every morning, full of hugs for this old teacher. Hearing,"I love you so much, Teacher." Warms my heart and gives me strength to keep on. One brought me a little gift today -- 3 bubble gums in a greasy bag. Sweet. Also got an ant and 4 ladybugs, since we have been learning about insects.

         Our caterpillars made a chrysalis this week in the classroom, and the tadpoles have legs now. Soon they will transform into something new and beautiful and wonderful. I hope to see that happening with my kids.  I am blessed to have the opportunity to see my little tadpoles grow legs -- to see my caterpillars changing into butterflies.  I don't know what the future holds for them -- but I hope they FLY -- or at least hop to a brighter future.
   " I know the plans I have for you," declares The Lord....." Plans to give you a hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

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