Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"Our teacher, she made us into a rainbow."

Every Tuesday I go down to Head Start and hang out with some of the coolest little kids you'll ever meet during their preschool. Half of them don't speak English. Of the other half there is only one little school who speaks Standard American English. Some have learning disabilities, some have SLI problems, some have amazing parents, and some are being evaluated for parental abuse. Some are loud and rambunctious, some refuse to speak unless directly asked to give an answer. Some understand what the teachers are saying, some don't.

And yet, when they all think none of the teachers are looking, these kids are the most harmonious group I've ever seen. There are only 3 kids that have productive bilingual skills yet it's non uncommon to see the 5 yr old hyperactive African-American boy with (presumed) ADD taking the hand of the youngest child in the class, a 3 yr old incredibly shy Mexican girl who doesn't speak a word of English and barely understands common phrases, and lead her over to his friends and help her join in whatever activity they're doing, never letting go of her hand the entire time. It's one of those, "If they can do it, what's wrong with the rest of us?" moments.

Regardless of whether or not the kids are little angels, Head Start has made Tuesdays my favorite day of the week. For a full afternoon I get to hang out with preschoolers with my main goal being to instill some confidence into these kids. "Good counting!" "You dance really well!" "Tu dibujo es la mas bonita flor que he visto en toda mi vida!" "Gracias por ayudar!" These simple compliments put the biggest smiles on the kids' faces, and it's sad to think that some of them never hear these things at home.

Today we covered the tables in shaving cream and dyed it with food coloring: let's learn how to write our names. Then we took out hula hoops and made human bridges and played leap frog to the Gummy Bear song and You Make Me Want to Shout: build motor skills and coordination. Then we played hospital, during which one little girl had a baby but the mommy died because her heart stopped working and so the baby was sent off to live with its grandparents (yeah...kids these days watch WAY too much TV): let's learn real life applications and erase the fear of doctors.

Tuesdays are my favorite. I really hope this turns into a job opportunity; I would literally jump around and scream like a little girl.

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