Young Children Need A Vehicle For Expression Too

Every morning, I wake up, make breakfast and read the latest headlines. Recently, there has been a lot of talk about children and what they will take away from this pandemic. Sadly, many children are handling the “new normal” in unusual ways.

My own pediatrician has said that, in her practice, she has noticed children are acting out in differently. Older children have been caught drawing on the walls. Teenagers have been admitted to the hospital for unusually intense bouts with depression. The headlines have recorded similar experiences of older children across the country. In response, doctors are recommending that children write their experiences and feelings every night before bed. They also can read other children’s experiences in books like Anne Frank’s, “Diary of a Young Girl.” My pediatrician had a whole print out on the benefits of riding a bike on trails for a minimum of an hour. It got me thinking. What about younger children?

Most young children are unable or just learning to read. The same goes with writing. Some of the topics and experiences of Anne Frank as well as other famous, coming-of-age-in times-of- crisis type books are not suitable for children under six. Writing is still more work than expression. While he plays outside for hours each day, there has to be more for a kid his age to find their own narrative. I have watched my five and a half year old grandson and wondered how I might help him understand a world I’m struggling myself to comprehend. The “story” of my hometown, state, country and planet change on a daily basis. How can I help him make sense of it all?

This morning, he and I cleaned up the table from breakfast together, we talked. He misses school now. He always complained about it before. He misses his friends. He misses playgrounds and playing at the park. He still plans to tell a girl in his Junior Kindergarten class that he wants to marry her. He wants to have a playdate and take her fishing. As I started to load the dishwasher, I held back objecting to him taking his tablet off of the charger. He was headed outside with it in hand. That was new.

For an hour, I quietly watched him make one tiny movie after another. Sometimes the lead character was a Lego character, running from some invisible foe. Sometimes, the video was just him making monster noises as the screen bounced wildly. That kind of video intrigued me most.

“That must be a pretty scary monster,” I commented. “I wonder what it looks like.”

Without looking up from his WIP he replied, “Things are always scarier when you can’t see them but you know they’re there.”

And there it was. All of the gentle talking was sinking in and he’d found his own way to express his response to the unpredictable world.

“You’re right,” I said. He couldn’t write or journal or read the experiences of his peers in trouble. He couldn’t, however, convey what I’d been feeling for months. There was something scary out there. I couldn’t see it. But I knew it was there. We all do. Maybe we all could use a day of making monster videos.

You’ve Got This

Send kids to school or keep them home? A lot of parents are making some very difficult decisions right now. It’s not an easy decision to make. If parents send their children, there’s risks involved and many states are cutting their budgets, eliminating art, music and “specials” like foreign language and band. Keeping kids at home to educate them remotely means one or both parents must juggle educating their child and work.

Know what? I’m rowing your boat. I’m trying to make some of the same decisions. Never the less, I am sure of a few things. First, a child’s first language is singing. Music, no matter if a child is home or at school, should have access to fun, stimulating music education. Through music, kids learn about the world around them. They learn about history. They learn to express themselves.

Learning to speak another language is to learn how another group of people sees and expresses themselves in a world different from our own. In 2020, that sounds like a pretty good idea. Foreign language also makes a child’s understanding of English even stronger. Learning another language at an early age means it is far more likely to stick with them through life.

Lastly, those quirky little readers… Millions of kids have learned to read with tiny reader books. One set in particular recently had one of my students’ siblings crying. She said the pictures were scary. Her older brother agreed. He remembered them. He shuddered at the thought. It got me thinking about super simple yet colorful picture reader books with large print to invite young children into the world of reading. I thought about all those word families I’ve practiced with students and my own kids. That thought turned into some scribbles (quite literally) which turned into some laughing with my family which became Mim’s Monsters. I hope they make you laugh, too.

Take Off Your Shoes and Stay Awhile…

Welcome to the Barefooted Friar!

In this new reality, it’s important that our kids have as much opportunity for a continuing education as possible without planting them in front of the television or handing them a game to occupy their time.

This site was created by Ms. Michele Beresford to give that opportunity to children.

Some content will be free, while other content will be accessible for a small fee. You can contact Ms. Michele at [email protected] for more information.