The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jason's First Day

Jason starts school today. Last year, he had behavior issues that landed him in “Red.” And, yep, they were real. The question is whether they were genuinely dysfunctional, or evidence that education systems are aimed at one set of emotional/behavioral traits, and Jason has another. Specifically, my opinion is that he is a hunter in a world increasingly filled with farmers. Well, I need to teach him to run and control his energy differently. Slacked off a little over the summer, but hit it again this morning, and happily...he seemed to pick it right back up. Here’s the program.

1) School starts at 8:15. We wake him up at about 7:00. At 7:30 his little butt is mine. We do a little yoga first. This morning this means a “Sun Salutation,” one of the finest start-from-cold multiple joint exercises in the world. I like it myself, just as a test of how well my body is processing exercise. If I’m stiff and sore in the morning...I’ve pushed a little too hard. Jason’s little body is so flexible in some ways, but a Sun

2) After the yoga, we sit cross-legged facing each other and chant “Om” for 5-10 breaths. I have him do the counting: it helps me keep track of his powers of concentration. It also helps him to learn to control the physiological symptoms of stress and anxiety.

3) Finally, he recites his little morning catechism. It is composed of five principles which, in combination, will produce his desired result: being on “green” at the end of the day:
a) Pay Attention
b) Keep your hands to yourself.
c) Do What you are told
d) Be Still
e) Exhale

(saying “exhale when stressed” is a lot better than saying “breathe” because a lot of people will inhale and then hold their breath. If you concentrate on exhalation, the inhalation part of the cycle is automatic. The reverse...not so much.)

Anyway, we’ll see what this year is like. Just got back from walking him to his first day of 1st grade. Sigh. They grow up so fast...


Dan Moran said...

>“exhale when stressed” is a lot
>better than saying “breathe”

That's a great bit of advice.

MTimonin said...

having been the go-to substitute for the "problem" kids in a middle school I'd have to say that: a) your assessment of the situation is probably pretty accurate - ie, the school is looking for a specific set of emotional/behavioral traits and Jason has another, and b) your catechism sounds pretty helpful. Best of luck to Jason!

steve-vh said...

Thanks for the trip down Memory lane. My active boy is now starting dual enrollment at the local top notch college (where i went) while taking one class as a senior in HS.
Many years were a struggle for him adapting to the confines of the standard educational system (Mushtaq knows many of the details well). Difficult for a kid who is destined to never be average.
Never let Jason loose sight of the fact that just because he doesn't fit a mold that it doesn't make him defective. Mine just scored a 34 on the ACT, so much for conforming.

Anonymous said...

"Finally, he recites his little morning catechism
c) Do what you are told"

While necessary in Jason's immediate circumstances, I'd suggest being careful not to inculcate "Follow the Leader" as always commendable. Maybe it would be better to qualify this by substituting "Follow the teacher's instructions".