Friday, February 4, 2011

The Little School That Could

Do people ever say something to you and it sets off a trigger. Your reaction is perhaps overblown, even as you tell yourself that the remark is completely well intentioned. Friends ask me all the time how my "little" school is going and frankly it drives me nuts. I react the exact same way my children do when I call them "little man" or "little lady." I'm Not LITTLE!

I'll admit the school is not big. It's about 900 to 1000 sq feet. The children are not big, although our oldest is twelve and we've got some great things happening with our after school crowd. Mostly we have young kids, 4 to 8 years old. I'll even admit that I am little, although I prefer the word petite to describe my physical attributes. Standing at a mere 5' 1", I am not a big or tall woman. I doubt however that anyone would describe me as small. I don't do small. I do big! I think big! I plan big! Sometimes I even fail in a great big way.

As adults we sometimes think of children as being incomplete beings. Adults tend to focus on everything the child has to learn. After all, they don't know much. They come into this world with only some very basic survival instincts. I like to think about not how much the child needs to learn but how much he has learned. Most kids are walking upright by age one. That's huge! Think about the coordination, the persistence, the muscle that is needed to get yourself up and learn to put one foot in front of the other. It's mastered by age one. Language is another big feat. Children go from goo-goo to go bye-bye to see you tomorrow in a matter of years. These are great big accomplishments that usually occur naturally with some guidance but little interference from adults.

Of course we know that learning never ends. Even when our physical growth has run the gamut, we continue to learn and grow intellectually and spiritually. It's an ongoing process. Learning is always a big deal. Here at Ivy League-West there is always something big going on, even if it not apparent at first. There is the child that sits with a somewhat vacant expression during story time. I'm not sure if the child is even listening or if he is off in a land of his very own. Then one day as I'm reading a chapter of Charlotte's Web during lunch, he cheers because Charlotte has decided to go to the fair with Wilbur. He excitedly informs me that Wilbur is the pig. I can't help but smile. There is the child that points out that I gave her 1/2 a sandwich and that earlier we put 1/2 cup of milk into the muffin batter. These jumps and connections are learning in a big way. There is the really precocious and bright child that is learning to maneuver the social sphere. She is learning that it is not appropriate to argue with the teacher. She is learning to let other children draw their own conclusions. There are children who have learned how to jump rope. Some have learned to bat a ball, some have learned their colors. Some are learning the alphabet and some are learning to write.

Little things are not what we are about. Ivy League-West is a place where big things happen everyday. So if you see me please feel free to ask me how things are going at school, but please don't call it the "little" school.