I started walking to school by myself when I was in the 1st grade (1980-ish!). It wasn’t a long walk, roughly six blocks, and I wasn’t the only kid in the neighborhood who was walking to school. Somehow, we made it to school and back each day. I remember it being fun and getting to know all of the different houses and front yards. I had my favorites of course, the ones with strawberries, loquats and oranges growing that I could pick for a quick snack when no one was looking. I didn’t just survive those walks, I enjoyed them!
I also rode my bike and skateboard everywhere as a kid, and I never wore a helmet. No one wore a helmet. As a family, we went to the beach all the time, and I can honestly say we didn’t use sunscreen or wear sun protective clothing, although I do remember putting Chap Stick on my lips. The first few times playing at the beach, I would get pretty sunburned. After a few days the burnt skin would peel off and just like that, I was good and tan for summer and would never burn again. To be honest, I don’t remember any of this being that big of a deal.
Much has changed in our habits and norms as a society in 2019. Nowadays, I wear sunscreen every day and remind my son to, as well. I make him wear a helmet when he bikes and skates and do so myself, also. I think sunscreen is smart as are helmets, and I am certainly not advocating here that we shed the use of either. However, how far have we come in trying to protect our kids from the “big bad dangerous world” out there? How far has the pendulum swung? “Helicopter parents” hovering in close proximity to their precious children, and “Lawnmower moms” who removes all of their child’s obstacles are modern day stereotypes which were not in the lexicon of schools and parents 25 years ago.
I am not advocating that kids stop wearing helmets and sunscreen. Indeed, I require my son to wear both. However, I am encouraging parents to remove the metaphorical “bubble wrap” they place around their kids in order to shield them from experiencing normal and healthy disappointment, setbacks or challenges that may stem from something not going their way. As parents and educators, we need to let them exercise their “grit muscle” by giving them tools to learn to be organized in school, study for a test, complete their homework, deal with a difficult classmate or even teacher, and then let them handle these very real and normal experiences in life and grow from them. That’s what learning is all about and we do a disservice to our kids when we take away their opportunities to become stronger, better and more adept at handling all that life will throw their way.
At Warren-Walker School, we are constantly working to create the best learning environment possible for children to grow into the best versions of themselves in order that they can handle the academic, relational and life challenges that they face now and will in the years to come. To accomplish this we need not only our challenging academic curriculum, well-rounded
specialist classes, a faculty, staff and administration dedicated to teaching, building and exemplifying good character, but also for you to whole-heartedly understand and embrace that the type of learning I’m writing about is a process that views challenges, hardships and mistakes as opportunities and not obstacles to be swept aside.
In that vein, I promise that at Warren-Walker School we will provide myriad opportunities to grow and be challenged academically. I promise we will provide an environment in which healthy social-emotional growth can occur under the guidance of experienced and thoughtful faculty, staff and administration. I promise that we will expose all of our students to the richness of the arts, music, drama, athletics, modern technology, foreign language and wellness. Most importantly, I promise that all of the above will occur in a safe atmosphere of kindness, compassion, respect and community. On the other hand, I can’t promise you that every day will be perfect without hardship or some difficulty. I can’t promise you that your kids won’t have a classmate they don’t like or don’t consider a friend. I can’t promise you that every teacher will be their favorite teacher and I can’t promise you they won’t get a bad grade on a report card or bomb a test. These types of promises are unrealistic. However, children learning to deal with these issues will mature, grow and develop properly so that ultimately, they can become successful high school and college students, and adults.