in this last week i have been shaken by the amount of anger i've seen in five and six year old children. i work in three different classrooms, and across all three i've watched children try their hardest to control the world any way they can. i've watched them scream, yell, fight with their teachers, cry, and the most effective method~ just absolutely refuse to be compliant. while we're use to having one or two children like this every year this year the anger seems to have seeped into more and more of them. it's disturbing to watch these meltdowns in a five year old. the desperation in their body to control their life in anyway they can, the anger in their little fists, the lost look in their eyes telling us 'it doesn't matter what you do or who you are, you're not going to reach me'.
last year just as the housing crisis began we noticed extreme behavior in some children. we called parents in and found out, sure enough, their family had lost their house. whether they owned the house themselves and had trusted a real estate agent from their country who told them the english documents said something they didn't, or whether they were renting, paying the rent on time, but were told by the bank to leave since the owners of the house had failed to turn the rent over to the bank. it wasn't many children, but enough to notice the trend in the out-of-character behavior that turned out to be linked to becoming homeless.
these little ones, the five year olds just now learning that their parents are not the super-heroes they believed they were, are determined to take control as they watch their life spin out of control in the hands of the world. in a way you have to admire the strength inside their anger. it is a determination that can help them if they learn to use it for good. but it is frightening as an adult who wants to help them, who wants to be trusted, to watch a kindergarten or first grade student say in every way possible without using words, "it doesn't matter what you do, i know better than to trust you".
i had two conferences this past week where it turned out the parent did not ever speak to their child, because their child spoke english and they spoke spanish. can you imagine being five and not being able to speak to your primary caregiver? never being able to be reassured that life will be ok? never hearing a story read aloud, or hearing about mom's life as a child? having only your needs met, all but the emotional piece that allows for healthy development? i admire the parents determination that their child will speak english and do well in american schools, but their child has to learn spanish as well. i'm not sure how they'll do well in life if they can only communicate with teachers and not their parents. i'd rather them struggle for their first few years in school than to go home and not be able to tell their parents what they learned.
this weekend i've got my stack of books from my emotional disabilities graduate class out so that i can review good strategies to use. i've got another stack of books out that i've found helpful over the years. i'm determined to find strategies that will let these children feel safe inside our school. maybe then i can sleep at night.