As teachers we know to look out on Monday mornings for anything dramatic that may have happened over the weekend. In the population I teach, we're have a heightened awareness for looking for signs of abuse. Mondays could be filled with stories of moving to a new apartment, having a relative go back to his home country, or even a family member go to jail. We know any of these events are traumatic to a little one and we try to be aware of them so we can be sensitive to the child's needs.
Yet we tend to forget there are smaller incidents that can distract from a child's ability to learn just as much as the larger ones.
A practice of families at my school is to let their little boy's hair grow out for a long time and then shave it off. One of my kiddos from last year would come to school announcing, "My haircut was a number 0!" He was one of the few that enjoyed this experience. The little boys come to school with cold heads and the memory of Friday when they had a full head of hair. They wear hoods over their head, avoid their friends, and keep their eyes down most of the day.
This behavior is naturally upsetting to a teacher who wants hoods off, eyes up, happy children. Yet I think it's so easy to forget how sensitive younger children can be to small things like haircuts. They haven't learned the coping mechanisms and self-talk to pull themselves through an unwanted haircut.
Yesterday we had a little one who absolutely refused to be a part of the group. When finally investigated his new shaved head and his eyes filled with tears were revealed. All he needed was a sensitive teacher's hug, some time alone, and an understanding talk that hair will grow back and that we love him no matter how it looks.