When it comes to fun, extra-curricular classes, kids are pretty lucky to have so many options to choose from.
Physical fitness, flexibility and coordination are a must at school. It’s nice to see confidence in children from physical activity skills learned at home, or from programs like sport ball or gymnastics.
In the classroom, sometimes we see some of the younger children not yet understanding the distinction, however, between activity that’s appropriate indoors in relation to what’s accepted outdoors. Running inside, throwing things and rough-housing, are a few that come to mind that seem to cause the most disruption!
When I first started working with children in schools I wondered why I would see the amount of running and rough-housing these little people wanted to do. As an assistant rookie in the classroom back then, I honestly felt like they were doing it to be mischievous... that for some mysterious reason they enjoyed mis-behaving.
After beginning work in the out-of-school program, the ‘throwing things’ was a frequent occurrence as well. My constant ‘reminder question’ to them to this day is: Me: “Where can we run?” Them: “Outside or the gym.” Me: “Where can we throw things?” Them: “Outside or the gym”. Me: "Is rough-housing ok?" Them: "No!"
But kids wanting to move, in whatever way they can, whenever they can, really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Humans are just born to move. Period.
Taking away kids’ right to move would be like taking away adults’ right for ‘quiet decompression time’ at the end of the day! (That would just not be fair.)
The way I look at it now is that it really just comes down to being another thing children are in school to learn – to be guided about what is acceptable in social settings, and what's not, indoors and outdoors, whether at school, or anywhere else they're carrying out their lives.
As soon as I realized that my role is solely to help children figure out life stuff (as opposed to figuring out how I could out-wit, out-play, out-last and out-smart clever, misguided energy), my job became a lot easier.
Even if the thought sometimes is that kids should already know the rules, if I take a deep breath and realize that they're showing me a certain behaviour because they're still obviously trying to figure it out (even if it's figuring out whether it's worth it to keep pushing their limits), that's when they need my understanding and patience the most.
Yes, it's challenging, but therein lies the reward: that I'm consciously working toward a positive outcome, showing children I'm "there" for them, unconditionally, regardless of what part of their personality they happen to be expressing at that moment.
And so, that brings me to asking a little favour to parents, if I may, of possibly having a couple of those little conversations with kids now, before the beginning of the year.
To the younger ones, of course, because they don’t know better yet, but also to the older kids who will hopefully take on being a role model….
It all contributes to the messages they're getting from us, which will hopefully be enough for them to give a second thought before tearing down the hallway, or hucking that rock across the room that they found outside after lunch.