Grade School

Get Out of Your Seat

For some reason, our children are judged on how well they stay in their seats. Kindergarteners are asked to sit on the carpet and listen. From first grade on, students sit at their desks for the majority of their day…math, language arts, social studies, science…it’s all learned sitting down.

For many students, adding an action can make a concept click. Just last week, I sat down at my work table with one of my kindergarteners. His assignment was to count by twos, and the teacher had written the numbers one through twenty at the top of the page. We started with the number two, and I asked, “What is the next number if we are skipping by twos?” First, he answered “three,” then “five,” and then “twelve.” Clearly, he had no idea. I spoke to him about even numbers versus odd numbers and told him that we should have our pencil jump over each odd number above. He looked blank.

I thought to myself: Here is a young, vibrant boy, sitting at this desk, not understanding the material. “Follow me,” I said. We went outside to the sidewalk, and I wrote—using sidewalk chalk—the numbers one through twenty, one on each consecutive, cement square. I told him that when we skip or count by twos that we actually are jumping over the in between, or odd, number.

He playfully jumped from one even number to the next. Not only did he start chanting, “two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve…,” but he was filled with excitement and smiled through the whole lesson. I watched how free and open he was to learning now that the material was visual and stimulating. After our session, I was reminded once again that sometimes the best lessons happen out of one’s seat!