In this month dedicated to love, let’s explore the things in our kids’ lives that they love. Friends, gaming, social media, shopping, sports, music … we can go on, but how many of us would be able to put “school” on the list? And yet, it SHOULD be there – goodness, it is one of the places where they spend a major part of their waking hours – shouldn’t they love being there? It would certainly make life better, happier, and more satisfying if they loved it.
If we take the best qualities of the different things they love, and compare them to school, perhaps we can build a list of criteria that would make school just as awesome.
Friends - they validate you. They listen when you are upset. They eagerly join you in the pursuit of fun.
Gaming - it offers immediate rewards, and challenges you to reach goals. There is visual and audio stimulus and interaction. Games are exciting and raise your adrenaline. They are generally accompanied by fast-paced music.
Social media - the modern way to interact and communicate with existing friends, and potential friends. This method of communication removes the barriers of geography, and opens the world and its possibilities to you, wherever you are – as long as you have access to Wi-Fi!
Shopping - a fun, often social, activity. It satisfies the pursuit of acquiring the things you want, and requires that you have the money to afford it – how you get the money is up to you!
Sports - a fun, often social, way to move your body, rise to meet challenges and achieve the goals of winning – medals, trophies, esteem, honour. Offers the opportunity to belong to a team, to represent your group – school, city, country – and work to your best abilities.
Music - a way to express yourself, your style, your creativity, your soul. It is calming, soothing, energizing, exciting – it meets you at whatever mood you are in, and can either match it, or bring you out of it.
Think of some of the other things in your child’s life that they love … is it animals or pets? Family? Whatever it is, think about the reasons that they love those things – what do they bring to your child’s life that makes it better?
Now, let’s apply these observations to school.
How does school compare to friends? Does school validate your child? Do they feel that they are listened to by the teachers? Do teachers appear to value the pursuit of fun within their lessons?
How does school compare to gaming? Does your child find school rewarding? Are they challenged in a positive way to achieve their goals? Are the lessons interesting, full of visuals and audio, to engage their interest and appeal to different learning styles?
How does school compare to social media? Do the teachers use alternative ways of communicating with students? Are teachers incorporating digital media into their lessons and offering multiple streams of assessment, so that students can present their work in ways that suit their strengths – including using multi-media platforms?
How does school compare to shopping? Is school a fun, positive social environment? Are kids able to get what they want out of their day, and do they have input and any control in the way they earn it? How much freedom do they have to pursue their goals, in a way that is meaningful to them? Is the process of the school day enjoyable?
How does school compare to sports? Are kids able to move freely in their classrooms, or are they confined to sitting in their chairs, or in a circle on the carpet? Does every child have the chance to shine in their area of strength? Does every child have a chance to represent the best part of themselves, and win real recognition, and not just a participation ribbon? Are the kids motivated to participate, knowing that there will be recognition for their efforts, even if their best is not the same as everyone else’s?
How does school compare to music? Are kids free to express themselves – to be who they really are, funny or “odd” habits and mannerisms and all that stuff – and not get in trouble for their differences in class? Can they express their creativity – with all its different faces, not just with paint or crayons on paper, but in song, dance, construction of something new, or the freedom to speak about things that really interest and inspire them – throughout the school day? Is school a calming and soothing place to be? Does it energize them in a positive way?
Whether or not we, as parents, agree with all the things kids love, or like to do, the fact remains that they do love those things. Love is inspired by positive feelings – something that makes you feel good – about yourself and your life. Looking at the things our children love from this new – perhaps different – perspective, can actually help us understand them better. And, maybe, it can give us a deeper understanding of why we don’t hear enough those words we would love to hear … “Mom, I LOVE school!”
Written by Cathy Pettigrew of kids n bricks – where kids have fun building and learning with LEGO Robotics and Minecraft Education classes!”