One day this past summer I took my kids to a local park. It was a beautiful day in July--the temperature outside was well below the sweltering highs we get in Ohio that time of year. The park has a large playground with swings and a nice climbing tree. Though I enjoyed watching my kids play, that day is etched in my memory for another reason. At one point, my daughter Anna took a break from playing to pick a dandelion from the ground. Like most kids do, Anna blew on the dandelion and made a wish. Too young to wish for riches or long life, Anna's wish was the following: "I wish I could go back to school."
I was struck that a child, any child, would have such a desire in the middle of the summer. Fact is, my kids love school. As four year-olds, they are attending preschool and have yet to be subjected to the test-prep curriculum that older students must endure. Rather, they spend most of their school days playing, but in a very constructive way. I'm sure that they will continue to enjoy school next year (in kindergarten) and probably even into the first grade. What I'm afraid of though is that they will begin to lose that love as they make their through the primary grades and by the intermediate level see school as more of a burden than something to enjoy.
Unfortunately, school and learning undergo this transformation for many kids. How do we stop it? What are we doing along the way that makes so many kids have such a difficult time finding school even somewhat enjoyable? My goal this year, as it has been every school year, is to reawaken that love for my students. I want my students to have the opportunity to play more in class, to interact with what it is they are to be learning (not entirely sure what I mean by that). I already do so much to achieve this goal, but I feel there is more to do.
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