Today I start working with the middle schoolers. None of the kids are in yet, but my supervisor was kind enough to let me get some blogging in and to let me work on my essay. But yeah, today the middle schoolers are who I’m working with, and I’m really curious to see how they behave. So far, just by observing them during free time, they seem like a really close group of friends, and they all seem to get along. But I’m not certain about this.
I’m also curious to see if I’ll be of any assistance to the kids when it comes to homework help. I have no idea what types of things middle schoolers in this area are learning, so I hope its stuff that I know. If not, that’ll be embarrassing. But all I can do is try my best, and I’m sure I’ll do just fine.
A part of my assignment with the 3rd-5th graders includes 1-on-1 homework help with a boy named Moises. Moises is in the 3rd grade, and hes a very small kid. He couldn’t weigh much more than 60 lbs, and if you looked at him, you’d think he’s a first grader. Moises is a very quiet boy and only speaks when necessary. He likes to play soccer, and I noticed that when he’s playing soccer, that’s when he comes out of his shell the most.
Moises isn’t the smartest kid, and he requires a lot more homework help than the rest of the children in this class. I happily chose to help Moises out, especially since I met Moises on the first day. Moises suffers from ADHD, and can’t really stay focused for long periods of time.
So one day, he had a worksheet that had to do with the map of America. The questions on this worksheet were really simple, like, “Which of the following states is West of Delaware?” or something like that. However, Moises really couldn’t grasp the idea of directions, so I had to draw a compass for him. After doing this, he began to get the worksheet a little bit better. What he decided to do was draw a mini compass (just the cross shape) inside whichever state the question said, and worked from there. I was very impressed that he was able to come up with a tactic such as this one.
This week, instead of working with the 1st and 2nd graders, I moved up to the 3rd-5th grade class. The transition wasn’t too difficult, but there are definitely some differences. The 1st graders were usually very restless, and had to be told several times to do something before they’d actually go do what you want them to do. But the older elementary school kids were much better listeners, and they also have a lot more rules to abide by. The younger kids would just go about the day, and would only receive any sort of punishment if they put themselves or someone else in harm. But with the older kids, there is an etiquette that they must adhere to. A bulky list of rules is posted up right on the door to their classroom, and if someone doesn’t follow one of these rules, the child would receive punishment. The punishment varies, it could be a loss of tickets, (which every 2 weeks, the kids can spend tickets on various toys and school supplies), a time-out, or a call home. The older kids are very well behaved, and usually don’t get in trouble… But this was one of the first things I noticed as I made this transition.
Another interesting note on the older elementary schoolers is that they only ask for homework help when they truly need it. The younger kids would ask me for help literally after every single question. But on the other hand, the older kids would try to do as much as they could on their own, but when they stumble upon a tricky question, they’d ask for help. I’d only have to nudge them in the right direction, then they’d figure it out all on their own. I found this very interesting because to me, it shows that these kids, no matter how smart they really are, want to display independence. Not only did it interest me, but it impressed me as well.
Like I said in my previous post, I was assigned to work with kids in 1st and 2nd grade. These kids come from mostly the Hawthorne school district, with a few kids from LAUSD. I was honestly a little nervous to meet these kids because I had no idea what type of kids they were. I was expecting them to be a challenge, and at times these kids are, but they’re all really good kids.
Now to talk about my favorite kids…
The first boy I met was a little chubby kid named Ryan. He looked at me with a face full of confusion. He had no idea who I was, and it was a little awkward. But that awkwardness vanished almost immediately, when he looked up at me with a glowing smile and said, “Do you wanna play tennis?”. I looked around and soon realized there was no net and we were on grass, so I was a little confused. But I said, “Yeah, lets play!”. He grabs a racket, and told me he got the best one and that the balls get hit harder with only this racket. I laughed, and grabbed a second racket. We got a fair distance away from eachother to start rallying the ball back and forth. He says, “ready?”, and hit the ball as far away as he could. He blasted the ball over the fence, and then looked at me with the biggest smile on his face. He yelled, “DID YOU SEE THAT!?!? IT JUST WENT SOOOOOO FAR!!!” I soon learned that his version of tennis is hitting the ball as hard as you can.
As the day went on, I met Jacob. Jacob has a broken foot, but he doesn’t let that stop him from being active. In fact, Jacob runs around and falls more than anyone else in my class. Jacob is really energetic, but he’s a bit of a trouble maker too. In fact, if he doesn’t get what he wants, he spanks whoever is giving him trouble. Yes, you read that right, he spanks the other kids on the bottom. He’s gotten in trouble a few times for this in my short time at Richstone, but he’s still a very good boy. He always picks the chair next to me and during homework time, he asks if he got the question right after literally every question. Jacob to me kind of seems like the leader of this group of kids. All of the kids listen to him, and respect him. I don’t know why this is, but I think its really funny that they already have an established hierarchy like this.
As some of you may know, I chose to do my senior project at the Richstone Family Center. I have previous experience working with kids, so this seemed like a good match. On the first day, I met Allison Tanaka, current head of the foundation. She gave me a run down of what Richstone was all about.
She told me that Richstone was originated about 41 years ago. It was founded by a group of professionals from the Hawthorne area that specialized in family therapy. Their goal was to create a safe haven for family’s that struggle with abuse. Any abuse, from drug abuse, to domestic abuse, to even in severe cases sexual abuse. The family’s enrolled in the program go through therapy sessions, study groups, and other wholesome activities similar to these.
I was assigned to work in “Kids Club”, which is essentially an after school program for the children that are apart of the program. I was introduced to Jackie Tam, who is in charge of kids club. I come in everyday at 1:00 pm, but the kids don’t show up until about 2:30-45. So to pass the time, she has me doing various paperwork, clean, or if she has nothing for me to do, I am allowed to hang out at the picnic tables outside.
When the time comes around, the kids begin to arrive. Right now, I’m working with 1st and 2nd graders, but I will be changing age groups every week to better understand how kids of this type of background mature. It isn’t too difficult of a task, plus I love working with kids. After my first day, I knew I chose the right project for me.