|This is a great story for making connections, predictions, sequencing and teaching the 5 senses.|
A little background is needed here. Each day, my wonderful first graders bounce into the classroom ready and eager for the day. They are clean, dressed nicely and loved by their families. It is, at times, easy for me to forget their homes aren't like what I, or many of us know. You see my school is next to a housing project and low rent housing. Over 91% of my children live in urban poverty and many are second language learners. Yes, many enter my classroom with a variety of needs, but they are first graders and its my mission to fully prepare them for any second grade classroom they may enter. Often they arrive at school tired. Never did I think to ask them why, until I pulled this book off the shelf for our read aloud.
Here are the answers I received, # of children who agreed out of 18:
*14 said they were too cold ~ small PJ's, no blanket or thin blanket, sleeping on the floor or sofa
*16 said outside noise kept them awake ~ gunshots, fighting, loud music, noisy cars
*16 said they had nightmares ~ no explanation needed
*14 said it was too noisy in their house ~ fighting, loud TV or music
*10 said brothers or sisters in their room kept them awake
*12 said they were scared
*9 said they were too hungry to sleep
Not a single child said they weren't tired or were sent to bed too early.
Why did this bother me so much, and why does it still weigh heavy on my mind. Certainly deep down I knew this was their reality. I like to hope/think that in some small way I am making a difference in their lives - but I think this set it straight, I cannot change what I cannot change - and that hurts. These are innocent children who will forever be effected by their living situation.
It also reminded me to talk less and listen more. This class needed to talk about their lives and I listened. I learned more than I wanted this year, but hopefully I will be a better teacher because I asked and I listened.