Covering local education, I get the opportunity to go into the schools and talk with many children. This is one of my favorite parts of my job and I usually learn more than what I initially set out to find.
I never know what the students may tell me, especially the younger kiddos. It could range from their family adopting a new pet to something their sibling did last week which upset mom.
As the television series “Kids Say the Darndest Things” taught us, children can have a totally different outlook on topics.
Children are some of the most honest creatures and I can always count on their opinions … even if they are a bit too truthful.
Over the years in different classrooms, I have gotten compliments on outfits, received hugs and recently been shown how to “floss” more times than I can count.
And no, that is not the same floss you do when cleaning your teeth.
I have also received puzzled looks from children as I begin writing while they are talking, snapping photos of students while interacting during their normal day or the time I wore a Hello Kitty Band-Aid.
When I first began visiting schools, children were very interested in my age. After assuming I was a student from the high school, they seemed surprised when learning I was from the local newspaper.
As the years have passed, I have learned children are still oddly interested in the age of classroom visitors, but sadly, I’m no longer asked if I’m a student from the high school. (I’m going to pretend the reason is the students have come to recognize me as “the newspaper lady” and it has nothing to do with my age).
Children seem to have the ability to recall small details from events. I believe this proves they are indeed engaged in their surroundings and paying attention.
Several years ago, I was speaking to a group of middle school students about the workings of a newspaper during a career fair.
After I went through my spiel, I asked if there were any questions.
I was thrilled when a student raised his hand, thinking I peaked his interest in the newspaper world.
“Didn’t you baby-sit my cousin and me,” the student asked.
I grinned and simply replied, “yes, does anyone else have questions about the newspaper?”
The day didn’t end with all blank looks from children. I had several students ask questions and show interest in the information I was providing.
As most teachers have probably come to realize, children are sponges and take in more than we realize. At times, I believe they are listening and retaining more when it seems they could not be further away.
While waiting for an interview in a school cafeteria, an elementary child quickly ran past me toward a book and grabbed it off the table.
“No book left behind,” he stated as he snatched the book and scurried off to class.
I giggled to myself and wondered where he had heard the phrase and in what context.
I encourage teachers and even parents not to be discouraged when feeling like your little ones are not listening. The little sponges hear and absorb more than we think.
Students have told me about the importance of taking turns, being kind and helping others who are less fortunate.
While hearing some of the “darndest” things kids say, I also love hearing views I hadn’t even considered. Some of the most obvious points adults overlook come from the innocent minds of children.
While observing an art class full of kindergarten students, the teacher was having trouble coming up with a way to get paper cups to stay on top the antennas of headbands.
After gluing the bottoms of the cups to the tops of the antennas, they would immediately topple over or fall off. I could tell she was becoming frustrated, as were the children waiting to complete their projects.
I watched one young boy make his way to the teacher’s table and simply flipped the cup upside down and place it over the antenna.
The cup stayed! The teacher flashed a grin and the students were able to complete their silly headbands.
While this simple solution did not ease tensions between foreign countries, it did prevent a classroom meltdown.
Keep talking and having open discussions with the youth and lead by example because I hear many stories you probably thought were wasted breath. They are listening and watching your actions.