Wednesday, February 26, 2014
In response to the article “Schools Count on Students” (Feb. 19): Is absenteeism from kindergarten the real problem? It is concerning that we are more “worried” about kids missing school vs. missing their childhood. Are we worried that they may perform poorly on the next state exam and truly “fall behind”? Under whose criteria is “behind”?
What is this imaginary benchmark we have created that every child must live up to at a specific age and grade and if they don’t, the prospect of success is dismal?
It is discouraging that front page news is focusing on these “problem” absences while we fail to look at the total and utter disregard for healthy child development. We are dismissing the essential need for young children to have the majority of their day be creative play, which leads to healthy social and emotional growth versus learning to sit still and listen.
Opportunities for problem solving, discovery, connection and compassion happen naturally if you allow young children the freedom to express themselves and to explore and engage with their environment.
As adults, providing the scaffolding and rhythm for questions to arise is important, but instead we are telling them what and how they should be learning through continuous structured lessons, with hours of sitting.
We now have an epidemic of children on Ritalin and anti-anxiety medication at a younger and younger age. They are responding to a stressful environment that has failed to keep movement, creativity and individuality in the learning process. It is a crisis and a shame that so many children are now on medication in order to cope.
More and more children don’t know how to solve problems creatively. They are uncomfortable and “bored” with unstructured time and many are burning out earlier and earlier and becoming resistant to going to school.
We are inhibiting childhood from unfolding and progressing in a manner that will lead these little people to become self-actualized human beings. We are being told to worry that our kindergartner will “fall behind” in their work if they spend too much time in life outside of school.
There is a culture of fear being created that suggests children will not be able to compete for the best schools and jobs if they don’t keep up. Last I checked stress was the leading cause of health issues, including depression. Perhaps this is the reason some parents are taking their children out of school?
If you haven’t read it in a while, pick up “Hope for the Flowers” by Trina Paulas and see if it might ring a bell. Are we pushing our children to compete to get to the top of the pole, for them only to discover there is nothing really there once they arrive?
In the meantime, childhood is not refundable. So, I personally hope as many children as possible get to enjoy the innocence of play, laughter, joy, discovery, skinned knees, and love which will then create the skills needed to carry them through a happy, compassionate and meaningful life.
Carrie Fuentes lives in Hood River.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge