Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Wonderment of Letting Kids Just Be Kids

     Halloween is long over, or is it?  For many, it is a day filled with too much sugar, uncomfortable costumes, and too much...well, fun!  In many places it is cancelled due to the fear of danger and the fear of sugar! Are these fears warranted, absolutely! However, there is another fear that I have that many people today are not talking about...this is, the fear of not cultivating a child's imagination! Sadly, I too reluctantly took part in this no Halloween hoopla! 
      There is a policy in my school where every day must go on as usual. Education is the focus as it should be. Also, there is a high rate of poverty where I teach.  It is believed that if too much emphasis is placed on the holidays that the children may feel the pang of not having. I can see this point but am not sure I share this thought process.
   This year, Halloween was on a Friday. My lesson plans reflected good, solid academic structure! My plan was to go through the day as usual. Friday afternoon I was going to allow the students the next to the last block (period) to explore their newish chromebooks. Then, I was going to give them a halloween treat as they left for home. I was going to do this quietly to not disturb the continuum of learning! 
   The last block was reserved for a controlled pep rally in the auditorium to show school spirit for all sports teams and to wish our football players well as they head off to the playoffs. Friday was maroon and white day (school colors) to promote solidarity in supporting our football champions. I of course wore maroon and white because I am very proud of the "Railroaders" for their great season in what ever sport they play. The pep rally was nice because the principal congratulated all of the students for their great leadership skills. We do have great kids in our school! All kids are great! Again though, Halloween was not mentioned, not even once! This is proper because school isn't about Halloween! Or, is Halloween more than that?
     My students and aides set me straight! (#notperfect)  I had said that we were not having a party but could use our chromebooks to explore academic sites! My students tried really hard to follow the policies set in place, but, well it is Halloween after all!  In case I haven't mentioned this, I love my students, my aides, and my school because in the end what's needed, happens...always! My students, even though they were told not to, brought in Halloween goodies that they made themselves! Talk about "Life Skills" in action! We had cookies to decorate, birds nest cookies, and aqua blue, spiders web cupcakes with candy spiders in them!  My aides brought in Halloween goody bags and really neat skeleton Cheetos to make skeletons out of (science in action)!  Through out the day, Halloween drawings appeared on my whiteboard and Halloween images were taped to our classroom window! How could I not get the hint! Suddenly my lame, consolation, out-the-door treat did not seem worthy of this occasion! So...I rescinded my no party rule and we had a party! (Shh...don't tell! This is a secret!) Actually, it really wasn't a party. It was kids having fun, feeling joy (#edjoy) as they explored educational venues on their chromebooks!
     Later, in the evening while reflecting on the day, I thought about the importance of Halloween in children's lives.  Halloween has become part of our American culture. Halloween doesn't have racial or social status barriers. All who choose to, can take part equally. Though Halloween is thought to be a children's holiday, grown-ups enjoy participating too. Why else would my social media pages be filled with Halloween pictures of those from all ages. Halloween insights imagination. On Halloween you can be whatever you want to be, in anyway you want to be it! Every thing goes!  You can forget if you are rich or poor, short, tall, chubby, skinny,disabled, smart...! Halloween allows everyone to forget about their everyday circumstances and just have fun!  Halloween doesn't need to be about the candy either. It can be whatever you make it! My students and aides made it about sharing and camaraderie. They made it okay to break a rule that has good intentions but maybe overlooks the importance of this underappreciated holiday!  My students kept their focus all day long. They played by the school and classroom rules and engaged in their lessons. When the time was right, they allowed this rule enforcing, teacher to rethink the wonderment of letting kids just be kids, and reclaim the joy of Halloween and letting our imaginations flow! (#makingmemories)

Educator Links:

Critter Kin: Listen, Love Learn
Monday Morning Memoir
New York State Approves Career-Focused Graduation Pathways

Parent Links:

Positive ADHD Symptoms- Five Things You Can do Better than Anybody Else
Crossing Sign Conundrums

Mitt Aubs Book Review:

      I was so excited to find an autographed copy of Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller's book: Nightmares.  An up to date novel about a boy who is having a few adjustment problems with his new step-mother, a possible witch in his new home belonging to his new step-mother- a purple mansion! Cute for young readers!

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