Dear Head Teacher,
I have concerns about Ethan’s welfare at the playground. Because he was away at the end of last term, he has found it uneasy to adjust to the playground during lunch break. He would come back home saying he is very lonely at school.
On Monday, he told me that he had a quarrel with his best friend, which ended their “best friends” relationship. Even though they are now still good friends. I advice Ethan to give his friend some space and that perhaps he would like to draw during lunch break instead. He said he would like that and quite happy to just sit and draw.
On Tuesday, I’ve spoken to his class teacher in the morning and asked if Ethan can do some drawing during lunch break as he was unhappy at the playground. She said that she hasn’t known about this before and would like to talk to the whole class about the situation, insisting me telling her of what the problem was. I told her what happened and said that I am sure they will sort it out by themselves just give them time. She said that she will leave Ethan’s drawing pad in his school bag and if he needs it he can do some drawing so. When I picked Ethan up from school, he said that he did not do any drawings as he couldn’t find his school book bag.
On Wednesday, I separated his school book bag and his drawing pad in a separate bag to hang on his peg for easy access at lunch break. At the end of the school day, he told me that a lady at the playground had told him off and said that he is not allow to draw during lunch break.
Today, I went in and spoken to Ethan’s class teacher again. She denied that she has given permission for Ethan to do drawing at school playground during lunch break whatsoever. I had to remind her of what she has said to me on Tuesday. Then she looked at Ethan’s drawing bag and said “First of all, it is not allow to have a brand name bag in the school.” I apologised to her about this as it was not done intentionally. I can just place it in a plain bag. I asked her again – why is it not okay for Ethan to draw during lunch break, as not all kids want to run around all the time. She informed me that they have other games at the playground and that is it is a security breach for Ethan to come back to the class after lunch when he should be outside and that is the rule.
I fully understood the security reasons, but I am rather disappointed with this decision as Ethan was very much looking forward to do some drawing at break time. Drawing will help him immensely with his current poor writing skills as well as helping his imaginary and creative skills. We need encouragement rather than enforcement models upon children. Support mechanisms and necessary resources should be considered if lunchtime activities in schools are to be meaningfully sustained – who knows this could encourage more kids to join in with this creative drawing activity at lunch break. And years later, what are they likely to remember about the class or the teacher?
Of course there is the chance I will be taken advantage of. I welcome this chance. I resolve to remain a patient advocate for Ethan even if he is testing me. Has the status quo resolved the issue? We should all be extended such grace. Life is a cycle of problem solving. Students learn best in a psychologically safe, mistake-friendly environment. We all make mistakes. How teachers respond has everything to do with whether or not their students feel valued as human beings. We are responsible for creating a psychologically safe playground. In all possible situations, we should seek to uphold the dignity of the student. Even when disciplinary action is necessary, it should be handled in a dignified way.
Please kindly give my boy his drawing pad and a pencil to draw during lunch break.
Ethan’s Mother, Su