I work in a reading lab at an elementary school. Every half hour for three hours each morning, different groups of kids come to the lab from their regular classrooms. During that time, they are working through a reading program that helps them to read better. Myself and the other aides each have a group of four kids and we guide them through the program, helping whenever we are needed. I really enjoy this job and love being with kids every day. It’s easier than being with adults sometimes.
My most challenging group of kids (all third graders) comes to me at 10:00am. They are working far below grade level, have short attention spans, avoid doing work and get discouraged easily. These are my favorite kids.
Last week, one of the girls in this group, whose grandma has custody of her, announces that her mom has moved back here from another state, is pregnant and is living in her uncle’s trailer because he died and doesn’t need it anymore. This girl goes to her mom’s trailer every day after school but they can only eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Her mom has lots of canned food, but no can opener. The girl has planned to bring a can opener for her mom that day. Then they can have something besides peanut butter and jelly. One last thing: the girl says her dad just got out of jail and is moving to another state. She doesn’t know who to stay with, her mom or her dad- it’s so hard to decide! (I didn’t have the heart to tell her she’s not going anywhere, her grandma has custody of her, for good reason)
A boy in the group says it’s the same for him: his dad lives in a different city than his mom and he cries every time he has to leave his dad to go back to his mom.
Usually, I would remind the kids that they needed to get back to work, but I stayed quiet this time.
Another boy says he misses his parents because, since the family lost their home, his parents are staying in a nearby state with a relative who can’t have kids at her apartment complex (“It’s just for old people.”) while his brother and him stay with a relative here.
Another girl tells us quietly that she has never met her father.
And these kids are supposed to pay attention and learn to read better?