We made bit of progress with my day # two as an assistant nanny. I was allowed to carry baby Andrew upstairs to his playroom and back downstairs after we had played for an hour or so. Nanny Helen reminded me to carry the baby with my dominant -- left -- hand and to hold onto the railing with the other. Nuclear physics, huh? Still, progress is progress. Yesterday I would not have been allowed anywhere near the stairs with the baby, and maybe not even on my own. Andrew -- or more correctly the family, as he has a sister on her way in weeks, and most of the toys will be joint property -- has a well-stocked playroom on the second floor of the home. Sometimes we just bring down several toys and play on the family room floor, but several times a week someone takes the baby upstairs so that he can choose toys from the shelves. The rule is one toy out at a time unless they're toys that can be used together purposefully.
These are all the baby's mother's rules -- not Nanny Helen's. Jillian says as the children are old enough to be left playing independently for ten minutes or so, she does not EVER want to walk into the toy room and find the floor covered with toys that have been randomly poured out of bins, and she has already started training Andrew to put toys away.
Most of the nieces and nephews -- who love the play room -- are already civilized and generally know about putting toys away, but every home has its own rules. at Aunt Jillian's house, toys are NEVER dumped from bins; they are taken out as needed, and if Jillian walks in and finds a mess, it is cleaned up immediately, and the offending guests are not invited back to the toy room anytime soon.
Jillian said once early in her teaching career, when she taught kindergarten, the class got out of control with a substitute teacher that she had for half-a-day so that she could attend a district curriculum meeting. Her school was piloting an all-day (or until 2;35 or so) kindergarten. When she walked in to her classroom just before lunch, every bin in the classroom had been emptied of its contents in no logical fashion, and the toys were randomly scattered together all over the classroom floor. She said a person couldn't have walked across the floor without the risk of either tripping and injuring oneself or breaking a toy. Even the surface of the carpet where the children would customarily sit for teacher-led activities and class gatherings was covered with scattered toys.
Because it was almost lunch time and the substitute was to be there until noon, Jillian sent the substitute to the cafeteria to collect the lunches and bring them back to the classroom on a cart. The cafeteria ladies (I don't mean to be sexist, but they've been ladies at every school cafeteria inside of which I've ever been) decided that since the lunches weren't to be eaten until after the room had been cleaned, they'd scoop the class's lunches last so that the hot food didn't get cold and vice versa. The ladies said they'd deliver the food themselves in an hour, right after the sixth graders had been served.
Jillian said the children acted as though conditions established at the Geneva Convention were being violated, or something to that effect, since as average-functioning kindergartners, they didn't have any idea what the Geneva Convention was.. They felt that they were being severely mistreated in every way possible in being expected to work before they ate. Jillian said that she knew that she had no child with blood sugar issues or she would have seen to it that the child with medical needs had been fed in a timely manner.
Jillian said she took a broom and cleared a path so that a walk-through from one door to the other could be safely made. they children walked thrugh the room in a line, then sat outside the room again. Jillian asked the children for strategies on how to most efficiently clean up the mess. One child suggested that it wouldn't work for everyone to go in at once initially, so maybe the red group could go in first and sort out just the legos and whatever was on the floor of the home center. Then they could regroup and decide what they should attack next. Jillian agreed with the plan and sent the red group in to accomplish their mission. At first the work went very slowly. children were quite discouaraged with slowness of the progress. Then, as more floor space became available, more groups of children could work sinultaneously, greatly speeding up the process. Eventually, the room was back in order, just as the lunch ladies appeared with lunch.
The children devoured their meals at classroom tables, and the area was cleaned thoroughly. They assumed that lunch recess would follow, as it always did, but Jillian pointed out that the other children had come inside. Lunch recess was over. They'd spent their lunch recess and even more time cleaning the mess they'd made. A collective groan went up. The Geneva Convention had been violated again. Jillian called them all to their places on the carpet so that they could talk about what happened.
They discussed, under the teacher's direction, how the problem had gotten started in the first place. One or two children emptied tubs on the floor, looked around, and when they noticed that the substitute teacher wasn't doing or saying anything to stop them, several more joined in. A few children took no part in the activity. When Jillian asked if anyone told the others to stop what they were doing, about ten of the thirty-two children raised their hands.
Other children quickly contradicted most of the children who had claimed to have tried to dissuade their classmates from misbehaving. A couple of the ten were among the worst of offenders. It ended up that only four had actively worked to try to encourage their classmates to follow the rules. Jillian made sure those children were clearly identified. She told them that she would keep track and that all of them wuld receive several special priviliges for having tried to have done the right thing and for helping to clean up a mess that was not their mess.
Jillian asked them what might have been the one other thing they might have done to try to stop the bedlam from occurring. The children couldn't think of what it might have been, so she told them that they might have promptly told the substitute teacher that other students were violating serious classroom rules, and that had they done so promptly, the substitute might have and the consensus of the class as to what had been done by whom in Jillian's been able to restore order before control had totally been lost. jillian then told the children that she though the subject had been adequately covered, and picked up a book off the ledge where children placed books that they wanted the teacher to read. before she made it through the first book, most of the students had fallen asleep. By the second book, the entire class was asleep.
Most of the kindergartners slept until nearly time for them to be picked up by their parents. When they awoke, there were quit manipulative for patterning, weighing, measuring, and such, for the children to do until schoool was over. Children didn't complain to their parents when they were at school, or at least not in front of jillian. Seven parents had called the principal to voice complaints by 4:00. Jillian had already spoken to the principal, had given him pictures from her digital camera of the mess before it had been cleaned, had given him the note she'd had the substitute compose concerning the behavior of the class in Jillian's absence, and had given the principal the notes of the class meeting detailing what had been done by whom in Jillian's absence. She also left him with a copy of her own lesson plans for the substitute to make it clear that the substitute had not been left withut clear directions.
Of the seven calls the principal received, five were among parents of the very worst offenders. Two were from parents of just middle-of-the-road miscreants but who were far from innnocent. None of the few truly guiltless students' parents had called to complain. The principal told complaining parents that he had been prepared to allow the teacher to handle this situation in the classroom, but if the parents were not satisfied, he would gladly bring the parent's child to the office and add to the consequences the child had already faced. It was up to the parent. In no way was he going to blame either the teacher or even the inexperienced substitute teacher. If children are not held accountable for their actions even at very early ages, they'll quickly learn to blame others for anything they've done wrong. One of the LDS parents (they were all actually LDS parents, as this was in Utah county) tried to twist LDS doctrine into the equation and say that children are not accountable for their own actions until the age of eight, which is something found somewhere in the Book of Mormon. The principal quickly cited a separation of church and state as his reason for not taking the mother's rationale seriously, then went on to give her several examples, all of which involved her own little angel as a potential victim, to help her to understand why even children under eight need to be accountable for their behavior.
One mother tried to claim child abuse because the children didn't eat lunch until 12:50, but because the children ate home-provided snacks at 10:00, they were well within any legal limitations on delaying lunch by just over an hour.
No kid as much as burped without excusing himself at any time in the future when a subsitute teacher was needed in Jillian's classroom.
This is a quite drawn out yet literal illustration of the proverb, "Much is expected of one to who much is given." Andrew has a bit of a Nazi for a mother, at least when it comes to toys and how they're played with and properly stored. The children's library next door to the playroom is every bit as well-stocked, and just as orderly. If I were a child and were given the choice, I woild take the excess of toys and books and the demanding regime in terms of putting materials away any day of the week over having nothing to play with but my mom's cell phone.
I was trying to teach Andrew to bowl, which is a bit of a joke in and of itself considering my own pitiful bowling skills, using his colorful plastic bolwing set. He was having a lot more fun kicking down the bowling pins he didn't knock down with the ball and sort of missed the point of the game. Still, Nanny Helen said what we were doing was a far more valuable use of a child's time than sitting in front of a TV or any other "electronic gadget' (one of Nanny Helen's favorite terms to use, which she spits out as though it's a racial epithet).
I carried Brown, Bear, Brown Bear downstairs so I could read it to Andrew just before his afternoon nap. His cousin Bryson usually reads it to him, and I don't think my rendition impressed Andrew quite as much as Bryson's typically does. Still he was ready for his nap by the time the book was finished. I probably bored the poor baby to sleep. There really is no plot to that book..
Nanny Helen is giving me increasing latitude.