Thursday, March 17, 2011

Why Sit on the Carpet?

Through various unforeseen circumstances, I sat in on part of Younger Daughter's class yesterday, without Younger Daughter, who was having a little chat with the Head of School at the time. Here's what I observed:

When I first arrived, the kids were lying flat on their backs while the teacher read them a story in a darkened room. I believe this is a rest period to wind them down after recess. OK, fair enough. But their next activity was to sit in a circle on the carpet (several on cushions like the one I bought for Younger Daughter, I noticed) while the teacher led them through a math lesson.

It's clear that my daughter is not the only one who finds it difficult to sit still under these conditions. The teacher's lesson sounded like this: "Who can find 2 numbers that make 10? Joey, no kicking. Can we add the 9 and 1 first? Sally, back up a little ..." etc.

It's a very uncomfortable situation for the kids. They're sitting on the ground, craning their necks to look up at the teacher, who stands above them, writing on a white board. The carpet is small, so they're cramped. Also, they have nothing to do with their hands. I know that I listen better if I've got something I can fidget with. Why do we deny this to the kids?

Most of the room is taken up by tables and itty-bitty chairs (you know, the ones that parents have to perch their middle-aged behinds on for parent-teacher conferences.) Why couldn't the kids sit at their tables for the math lesson?

Here's a related article I found on the 'net:

Why Can't My Child Behave During Circle Time?

While I am deeply skeptical of the labels the author throws around ("tactile defensive", "sensory issues", etc.) the author's basic point is right on. We're putting the kids in an uncomfortable position, and then blaming them when they're not comfortable.

I'm writing this post as part of my thought process before I send an e-mail to the teacher. Next up, I'll show you the e-mail!


  1. I completely agree. So imagine the discomfort transferred to twelve and thirteen year olds in the middle school classroom. But I was ordered to do just that in my middle school classroom for several years until I just refused and had them back at their seats. For the most part, it's better.

    I will say this though. Sometimes I miss the closeness of the circle and they kept my lessons nice and short. I'm not sure what a happy medium would be.

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