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In the Classroom: Eagles

Talking and Listening

by Carolanne Mitchell

If there is one thing I have learned about nine and ten- year-olds in my years of working with this age group it is that they love to talk! Mostly, children this age will talk to each other, but some will talk just to talk. Children of this age have a lot of opinions and they are surely not afraid to share. Peer relationships are important at this age. Most of the children in the Eagles have been at PIC since they were very young, so they basically grew up together. Of course, at this age friendships can be volatile and a pair might be BFFs one day and not talking the next. When this shift happens it can be upsetting and preteens need caring grown-ups who will listen. That is part of why I love being an after school teacher, as there are plenty of opportunities and time  to talk and to listen.

One rainy afternoon in the Eagles room, four 4th graders splayed out on the carpet in our Library and Lounge area having an animated conversation. I observed from a distance to allow them to talk.  They talked about school, specifically about which teachers or classmate they did or did not like. I listened a while before entering the conversation. Developing and maintaining these relationships are a key component for development at this time. After a while, I got the camera and asked permission to take their picture. They all struck amusing poses and laughed quite a bit and I ended up with five great shots. Their personalities really shone through.

Many children in this age group have very busy and quite scheduled lives. Between school and sports and piano lessons and play rehearsals and all kinds of extracurricular activities, they have very little time to just hang out, relax and talk with friends. Providing spaces for children to have true “down time” and socialize with peers is not only important, but a critical aspect of their development.  And that is probably the most important thing that  we try to do in the Eagles classroom!