I walked into my classroom this morning feeling a little flustered. It's been a rocky week because I didn't have time to really organize all of my copies and lessons like I usually do. The plans are made, but I haven't reviewed them well enough to actually teach them, and I feel like I've been flying by the seat of my pants. Each day gets worse and if you ask me, this week has been completely useless as far as instruction is concerned. Sure, my kids are learning, but not like they should be, according to "state standards." So I was not expecting this to be a great day, and I've really been working for the weekend.
Leave it to a fourth grader to put my entire life in perspective.
My favorite time of day is read-aloud. I love to gather all of my kids on the carpet, quiet everyone down, and really savor the words created by great authors together. My kids are really good at finding what we call "wondrous words" in our read-alouds. They sit there, hanging on every word, and after each chapter, their hands shoot up in the air and they let me know what the author did that they just absolutely loved. It's truly a precious time for me and lately I haven't been able to squeeze it in. So today, I decided before the kids even walked in the room, that no matter what, I would do read-aloud today - if for nothing else than my own sanity.
Currently we're reading a book called "Out of the Dust." It's an excellent book about a little girl's life during the Great Depression. Today, instead of just talking about the words and phrases and crafts in the book, the kids became very concerned about...banks. They had so many questions! What is a savings account, exactly? My mom has a debit card, what is that? How do checks work? We had a great conversation that extended into bills and loans. One kid asked "When do I have to start worrying about that stuff?" I told him not to worry about it until the bills in the mail have his name on them.
I tried to explain, by using my own life situation, that big things, like houses and cars, cost more than most people have at one time, so they have to borrow money from the bank. I explained that my husband and I are currently renting an apartment, but someday we'd like to buy a house. Then, as most fourth graders will, they started a vibrant discussion about what kind of house I should buy ("Daija has a HUGE house, buy one like hers!") and where I should buy a house ("You should buy my neighbor's house, it's for sale!")
Scottie sat up staight and tall, shot his hand in the air and stared at me with his pleading eyes. "Yes, Scottie."
"I have two things..." he said.
"Okay, go ahead."
"Well, my grandparents bought part of a farm. They just bought the land and then later they hired people to build a house on it. They don't have a mortgage, I don't think. Maybe you should do that."
"Thanks, Scottie, I'll keep that in mind."
"And also....when do you think you might be having a baby?"
"Uhhh....I have no idea!"
"Well, I was just wondering, because nothing exciting ever happens to me during the school year."
There I sat, in my cozy rocking chair, surrounded by twenty kids who thought Scottie was making a perfectly good point, while I tried so hard not to laugh hysterically. It was the perfect note on which to end my day and I left my classroom loving my job. I guess that's what fourth graders are for!