It's that time of year again. As home-parents are falling back into their no-kids-during-the-day routines, the kids are back at school. Summer memories slowly being shoved out of the way to make room for science, math, geography and verbs. And that's just what they'll be tackling in school "A". It's the stuff they learn in school "B" that'll make or break them." What's school "B"?" you ask. We've all been to school "B". It's where you learn the big subjects; Courage,betrayal,friendship,fear,despair...and the list goes on. School "B" is known by many names, but for us today, we'll call it the School Yard.
Think about that for a second. What lesson from your childhood do you still carry with you and use on a daily basis? Is it the long devision, what Zr is on the periodic table of elements, what the capital of Botswana is? Or, is how to deal with someone pushing you around, playing fair with others or dealing with a broken heart more inline with what we do daily? The lessons we learn in the school yard are huge and they're the situations that we will continuously deal with for the rest of our lives. Wether you're in the school yard or at the office, dealing with a bully or knowing how to console someone when they're hurt are pretty handy skills to have.
The problem is it's not being talked about enough. Kids will go out to recess and experience stuff that they will remember for the rest of their lives. I can remember vividly a dodgeball game in the second grade (over 30 years ago) when I was the last man standing on my team facing 8 opponents. I was sure to lose. A crowd had gathered to watch me be destroyed. So when I picked-off the last one, everyone cheered and my team rushed me to pat me on the back. Pure awesomeness. Of course I also remember being so ashamed at being picked last for a game that I started to quietly cry and slinked away un-noticed. Not so awesome. These emotions can be tricky to handle as adults much less as children. What I would like to see is an hour, every day, of in-class time dedicated to talking about social situations. You might say that's a bit much, but I don't think so. I know the guy who cut accross four lanes of traffic this morning just to get a coffee could have used some lessons on playing nice with others or a quick lesson on not being such a (fill in your own expletive here). If it isn't being talked about at school, then it's us parents who need to pick up the slack, because the lessons learned in the school yard are the ones that matter most. I don't care how smart Billy is. If he gets to the school yard and kicks around kids smaller than him or if he spends the whole time sitting alone, wishing he were someone else...knowing what the chemical structure of water looks like isn't worth too much.
Need some ideas or a place to start? Check out this handy site on bullying: www.bullyingcanada.ca
Kids need to learn how to deal with everyday situations and emotions. These lessons are the ones we build on and shape who we will be as adults. Play nice with others? That's a good lesson. I use that one every day. It's been 21 years since I've used a long devision. I'm just saying.
So, which life lessons did you learn in the school yard?
Frank Burelle is a Husband, Father, Cartoonist and Photographer from Cornwall Ontario. www.frankburelle.ca twitter@frankburelle