Feeling Summer

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It’s almost summer and everyone is feeling it. Kids especially feel it, probably because they’re closer to the ground and take it in with all of their senses—dirt, grass, rain, flowers and bugs.

And we all know that’s how they operate. As Jim Greenman used to say, they need to “wallow” in it. That’s what kids do. And not only preschoolers, older kids too. They may experience seasonal changes a bit differently from the little ones, but they’re intensely feeling the coming of summer and the end of the long school year.

I usually write about preschoolers, but I’d like to say a few things about kids in school at this time of the year because so many parents have talked to me about their schools and their children. Children are “getting in trouble,” schools are clamping down—using rewards or punishments. Principals are reminding parents and kids that school isn’t over and they must continue working and “behaving” until the very last day. Ugh.

This is all so fruitless. Everyone, including teachers and parents, has had it with school and the routines of schooling. Why can’t schools simply recognize that? Why not adjust to the child’s rhythms and development? Why not adjust to the seasons and reality?

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All evidence indicates that rewards and/or punishments don’t really work in the long run so why do adults insist on using them? Why not get together as a school team and ask, “What can we do to make the kids’ experience here, at this time of the year, enjoyable and interesting?” Now wouldn’t that be a great learning experience for all concerned?

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