Tag Archives: elementary school

Hand Holding Ban, No Touch Play and the Real Story

Dramatic headlines. Followed by a juicy sound-bite about small children forbidden to hug or even push their friends on the swings. Set up a camera across the street to film kids playing.

Et voila – a sensational story that goes viral in hours!

Of course, the real story. And the facts. And the true intentions of a diligent staff. Not so entertaining.

I’m a blogger myself, so… mea culpa, mea culpa. Sometimes we hear something that tweaks a rant we’ve had brewing deep inside and it seems like such a Great Opportunity to say something outraged and amusing important, we jump on it and gloss over the nuances.

Now I’m on the other side.

The purpose of the temporary no-contact rule was never to ban all touching amongst five-year-olds forever, nor to create an oppressive, over-protective atmosphere. It was simply to get a handle on an overly rough dynamic amongst one small group, so they can return to normal playground fun without injuries and fear. In the meantime, the kindergarten teachers are out there with them, hands-on, teaching appropriate touch, boundaries and respect.

play

This is something the staff felt was necessary. Would I handle it that way? I have no idea. But I’m not a kindergarten teacher. Parenting 1 or 2… or even 4 kids isn’t the same as managing a classroom and building a positive culture within it. They could just say “kids-will-be-kids,” shrug their shoulders and turn a blind eye. Instead they’re taking their job seriously. Whether you agree or disagree with their methods, I know that they care about the children and are doing their best.

You see, unlike all the other reporters and bloggers and opinion writers out there, I know Coghlan. I know the staff. This is my school. That’s me, and my children, walking in the front door on the local news last night.

The real story here is how quick we are to turn on the people who are educating our children. They don’t teach for the fame, prestige and huge paychecks, they do it because they love children and believe in education. As parents, it’s our job to back them up. And if they send a letter that is unclear, if they seem to be overreacting, if we don’t agree with their approach to a particular problem, it’s our job to talk to them, to clarify and find a solution. Not to bring in the media. Not to mock, belittle and misrepresent their efforts. No matter how sensational the headline.

I know the parents who were outraged by the letter that was sent home. They’re good parents, good people, and they’re trying to look out for their kids. They reacted to an admittedly poorly worded letter. Somehow the media heard about it and the whole situation snowballed into this ridiculous circus. Frankly, I blame a slow news week. This has only hurt people. It hasn’t helped anything.

We teach our children, when they have a problem, to go directly to that person and work it out. That’s how community works. We’re also teaching them to respect their teachers and the rules, even the ones they dislike. And if they ever have to keep their hands to themselves for a couple of weeks, it won’t be the end of the world.

After all, it’s a refrain my kids have heard from my lips on occasion. When things get out of hand on long road trips, we institute our own no-contact rule until everyone can regain some self-control. My parents did the same thing. I seem to be psychologically intact.

Coghlan is a wonderful school. Not a perfect school, but a wonderful one.

Too bad that’s not a sexy story.


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Never has a hand-me-down been so happily recieved by a little sister.
B wore the sparkly backpack all day and screamed for joy when we wrote her name inside it!

The commercials show jubilant parents skipping down the aisle caressing the Back-to-School supplies as they go. Petulant children trudge behind looking depressed. It’s an office supply store’s dream come true.

Mine too.

I often feel a bit guilty to number myself among those excited parents, thrilled to see September on the top of the calander. I have friends who lament the end of summer days with their beloved children. And I wonder, do I enjoy my children less?

But, I felt this way back in the days of homeschooling, when the end of summer “holiday” meant not less, but more time and interaction with my offspring.

It’s NOT that I don’t like spending time with my kids. Though, in all honesty, every moment of hands on parenting is not blissfull and life affirming. Admittedly, I relish the idea of a quieter house and days where I don’t have to extend my bathroom breaks to protect my solitude-craving soul. But, I miss them too. And I hate not having the inside track on all the goings on. Despite my daily bribes, “you must tell me 3 things about your day before you get an after school snack”, I don’t hear about everything they are doing (or not doing… yes, I’m talking about that spelling homework, C).

I felt this way as a school kid myself. I loved the crisp white pages of an untouched notebook. I loved neatly lining up all of my supplies. I even loved packing that very first bag lunch of the year. What can I say, I’m a total nerd.

It’s NOT that I don’t enjoy the freedom of summer. Lazy mornings, trips to the beach, family holidays, letting Glen cook dinner for a change (sorry honey, I don’t know which button to push on this thing and you are SO good at barbecuing)… Every week brings some new adventures and the kids have time for uninterrupted play (the thing I miss most about homeschooling). This used to be elaborate forts and pretend games, but lately it’s been building sets and designing costumes for their latest movie.

The truth is, I miss normal. I miss routine. I miss predictable. I miss knowing what each day is going to hold. And I know my kids do too, though they claim loudly that the only good thing about it is seeing all their friends. They thrive when things go according to plan. Even my free spirit sleeps better and gets her chores done with minimal drama when things are back to normal.

We line up the pictures on B’s weekly calander and she can see which days are school and when she gets to go horseback riding or have speech therapy or swimming. She knows what happens next and she is so much better behaved. Just like her mom.

So, today as I snap the requisite “first-day-of-school” photo at the front door, it’s not the new backpacks and carefully considered outfits that put that hopeful smile on their faces (and mine). It is a giant sigh of Back-to-Normal relief!

So here’s me, definitely in need of a brand new notebook. It’s unnatural to be this jealous of a 7th grader.


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