Sunday, May 18, 2008

Dropping the Ball – Part 1

(This story originally appeared in the Spring 2003 Independent School magazine and the Parents League Review 2004)

How often do you look beyond what you see in your child? Whether at home, at school or on the playing field, do you wonder how far she can reach? Do you settle for a first impression when you initially meet your son’s best friend? Have you been caught underestimating your child’s abilities?

Recently, I had an opportunity to visit a school and observe a physical education class of three-year olds. I was standing in the balcony of the gym, out of sight with a view of the entire room. The teacher positioned the class of twelve around the circumference of a flattened parachute. She instructed the students to grab the edge and in unison ruffle the light, colorful fabric. You could see the children were fascinated by the motion of the cloth as it rippled from the pulls and tugs of little grasping hands.

The teacher then introduced a large bag of foam rubber balls about the size of apples. While the parachute was resting on the floor, she assisted several children as they dumped the bag of balls onto the center of the orange and yellow silk circle. Her next instruction was, “Let’s make popcorn. Grab the parachute and make your arms move up and down. . . faster. . . faster.” I was watching the balls fly in the air, and on the last command of faster, the balls began flying out of the confines of the parachute. The teacher then said, “Now, let’s shake all of the balls out of the parachute.” And they did—every last one.

There must have been 50 balls strewn over the entire gym floor. I waited to see what the teacher would do next. “Okay, let’s gather all of the balls and put them back into the bag” was her next direction. With hysteria-like enthusiasm, the students scattered about collecting the balls.

This is the part that really caught my attention. . . (to be continued)

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