Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Talking Him Off the Ledge

The beginning of the school year can be daunting for our youngest students in Kindergarten. Today I was called down to a kindergarten class because a child was not cooperating and being pretty disagreeable. I could tell that he was highly frustrated and impulsive. My goal was to calm him down and figure out just what led to his state of mind. His class was on their way outdoors to observe a tree. I asked him if he would stay inside to calm down a little and talk with me. He parked himself under a table and seemed to prepare for a battle.

In the first few minutes of our conversation, we just weren't connecting. He was still too frustrated to be logical or cooperative, but slowly he began to talk with me. I made it apparent that I was very interested in what he had to say. In a few minutes, he got the idea that I wasn't there to make his day more miserable but that I was genuinely trying to understand him. We spent the next 15 minutes talking - he stayed under the table as I sat near trying to make eye contact.

Some moments in education are magical. In just a few minutes, I found out what was making him so unhappy and learned about what he liked. But more importantly, we connected. The class returned from observing a tree outside and went out for a bit of recess. I watched him and two other boys play soccer. When the children came inside, they spread out with books for a few moments of independent reading. He chose a book about bugs that we both found pretty interesting. We looked through it together, and I invited him to come to my office to read with me sometime.

In those last few minutes together, I could have imagined it, but I think he nearly reached for my hand. In our time together, I learned some things about him and he learned some things about me. We can build on the friendship we began today. I am looking forward to more opportunities to spend time with this child. He has some challenges but he is a most interesting child. In small ways I hope I can help him find his place in our school.

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