Saturday, June 4, 2011

And...That's the End of That Great Chapter.

We placed each of our kids in an all-gender class at the end of the school last year.

During the summer we heard several "not-so-great" and downright awful stories about the all-girls class, so Luke and I talked and we withdrew Precious Jewel's name mid-summer... we thought.

We arrived at the beginning of the school year for Open House night and discovered somehow there had been in mistake in communication and Precious Jewel had been left in the all-girl's class.

We didn't know what to do, but after talking with her dear teacher from last year, we decided to leave her in the class with the option of moving her later if we felt she needed.

It was a God-ordained miscommunication because it was a wonderful year for Precious Jewel.

She had some of the typical nasty girl issues that every girl deals with no matter how they are educated, but the way her teacher and staff dealt with the issues was marvelous.

It made all the difference in the world.

Most importantly it Precious Jewel how to deal with conflict appropriately.

I just finished reading Bringing Up Girls and am now re-reading Bringing Up Boys by Dr. Dobson.

Precious Jewel's and Mr Smile's teachers epitomized what Dobson said every parent and teacher should do when kid's are getting picked on (which was Precious Jewel's case).

"One of the important assignments as a parent is to preserve the mental and physical health of your kids. You wouldn't think of letting someone injure them physically if you could prevent it. Why, then would you stand by and watch the spirit of your boy or girl be warped and twisted? The damage to the self-concept that occurs ...can haunt an individual for the rest of his life.

As a teacher, I made it clear to my students that I wouldn't put up with teasing. If anyone insisted on ridiculing another of my students, he was going to have to deal with me. I wish every adult would do the same. When a strong, loving teacher comes to the aid of the least-respected child in the class (not Precious Jewel's case. She was quite popular, but she did have a traumatic incident that involved several girls and parent and Administration) something dramatic occurs in the emotional climate of the room. Every child seems to utter an audible sigh of relief. The same thought bounces around in many little heads: If that kid is safe from ridicule, then I must be safe too. By defending the least-popular child in the classroom, the teacher is demonstrating that she respects everyone and that she will fight for anyone ho is being treated unfairly." (Dobson. Bringing Up Boys, pg 48)

I am a HUGE advocate of defending the "least" in the world of childhood. Probably because a couple of my own siblings were horribly picked on and I saw the pain it caused.

Precious Jewel came home from her second to last day of school sobbing uncontrollably (literally). It was the last day with her beloved teacher (the last day was a Saturday and her teacher had a wedding to attend). That did kinda' suck.

So we have decided to put her into the all-girls class again next year.

Mr Smiles had a wonderful year in his all-boys class as well.

He adored his teacher and his little fellow classmates.

The all-boys class was a good experience for him, but we did not sign him up for it again next year. (We are beginning to re-think that).

We got to attend his little award ceremony that his teacher held for her class.

It was so cute to watch each of their sweet little faces as she read their awards and handed them their (large) candy prize.

The eyes of those little boys lit up when she handed them that chunk of sugar!

Ben got the "Skittles" award for "exhibiting a RAINBOW of creative ideas in first grade. Your stories were so exciting to read!"
He beamed and we let him eat the whole bag of Skittles on the way home without having to share with anyone (a rare treat at our candy deprived house).
We haven't decided whether on not to enroll him in the all-boys class for next year or not.
We did discover that when you put a whole bunch of little boys together that the typical locker-room talk ensues. His teacher didn't tolerate it in the classroom and I know she put the "kibosh" on it when she did hear inappropriate speech.
I know with both kids the "issues" we had occurred on the playground and at lunch where it is impossible to supervise everything that goes on with every child. That occurred numerous times in my small private Christian School. Sin nature is sin nature and it's going to rear it's ugly little head no matter how young or where you are at. I've even encountered ugly situations on carefully supervised playdates.
All that to say, we want to see who the all-boys teacher is going to be next year and find out how she handles some of the concerns we've had and then we might put him back in.
The movement and activity in his classroom that looked like barely controlled chaos, was what he thrived upon.
Happy end of the school year and welcome to summer!

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