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April 02, 2008

6 Weeks 'til Summer Vacation

Spring Break has come and gone for us. Summer vacation is only six weeks away! It seems crazy – but our programming ends on May 1, 2008. As I look ahead, I realize that my students will have almost four months without school. I truly believe that each of us needs a break; it is important to have time to rest and rejuvenate. However, it concerns me to know that some of my students will -- dare I say, regress -- over the summer.

It is frustrating to observe my students over the past two days. I feel like in one short week we have lost our ability to control our bodies, treat each other kindly and function as a classroom community. As we review our classroom rules and remind ourselves how to behave, I observe the following situation: half of my class has “t.v. syndrome” (thanks for the term Vanessa!) In Vanessa’s post, she mentioned a phenomenon where it seems as though students are watching t.v. instead of being an active class member.

I could not believe it! I thought…”Well I have some students that kind of fit that description” – but they are creative or students without much school exposure. I made excuses that their daydreaming was the result of something else. Last year I had many “wanderers” during choice time. This year, I adjusted my curriculum to include a “touring the room” time to show students how to explore a new toy or work space.

Also, this year, more than any other year, I have name-calling and a lack of empathy. We have class meetings almost every week to figure out how we can make our community more kind. Some of my students pick and nag at each other as if they were siblings. Just today we had to stop during our song time to help two of our friends. They had decided to pick new best friends and bantered back and forth about who is the winner… and the fastest… and the best racer, super hero, etc.

Developmentally, these are concepts learned at the pre-kindergarten age. However, I am glad to hear that I am not alone when I worry about the overall social and emotional development of my students. It is this concern that pushes me to fight for more funding, a more consistent yearly school readiness schedule and positive parent involvement.

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