Just a Little Snap

Back to School

By Mary Z

In my memoir, “An Upside-Down Heart,” I gave a snapshot of how life was in the late-forties…quite different than today. I went to District 32 country school, where grades one through eight met in the same room. Usually, there were 15 to 20 kids for all the grades, and of course there was only one teacher. We had a potbelly stove that heated our one room.  In the winter my sister, Sharon, and I walked the mile to school.  Our teacher sometimes had a basin of warm water waiting where we could soak and thaw out our feet next to the stove.  We had no such thing as indoor plumbing, so we used the two-hole outhouse, a short walk behind our school.                                   

Lunch time was interesting.  If you were willing, there would be a lot of sandwich trading.  Anyone who had something better than a pickle sandwich was willing to trade up. Typically, Mother packed an egg salad or Spam sandwich for me, and I would sometimes be willing to trade half my sandwich for an apple.  A lot of families in our neighborhood were extremely poor.  Occasionally, a milk delivery truck dropped off half-pint glass bottles of milk in the cloak room. Because there were fewer chocolate than white pints of milk delivered, there was always a race for the chocolate flavor.

Recess was the highlight! By the time I was a fifth grader, I was pretty mature.  My classmate Arlys and I had put away the Sears Roebuck paper dolls that we had cut out of the catalog and played with at recess. Now we had our personal diaries with little gold keys to lock up all our secrets. At recess we would take out our diaries and share our hopes and dreams. One of my secret dreams was to be a pastor’s wife, cherished and loved.

Children today may not have the same rural inconveniences I had, or the simple lifestyle, and Sears Roebuck dolls to play with as I did as a third and fourth grader, but children today are still full of dreams and desires to “belong and be somebody.” In my observation, there is a slow erosion for children’s well-being in today’s busy, device-driven, distracted world. May I suggest three ways that will help prepare our children and grandchildren for being more grounded and socially influential.
~ Encourage play time: Children need time to be imaginative and creative. Therefore, they need time alone to be free to explore and grow. Set limits around screen time and be sensitive about not over-scheduling your children with extra-curricular activities. Kids who play by themselves learn to have more fun on their own, and also playing by themselves brings a sense of calmness and well-being.

~ Encourage reading time: Children will learn to read and enjoy books if they are surrounded by them. Have a large array of interesting books at their reading level. Encourage them to read menus, road signs, movie names etc. Reading and time alone to create and imagine are the foundation for a child’s development.

~ Encourage sleep time: Children need to go to bed early during the school year, no excuses. It’s important for hormone growth because a child’s growth is produced in the fourth and final stage of sleep. Moreover, children will be more active in class and have better recall and memory when well rested. The habit of children going to bed early will have positive consequences throughout their entire life. By being aware of these practical principles, we are helping our children embrace a sense of security and a knowing that they belong and are important individuals.

                 “Children do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”


Mary Z.