Free To Be You and Me (and Pee?)
Dr. Rebecca Branstetter
A big part of my job is doing observations of kids in their learning environments. I find it shocking that there are psychologists who don’t visit the kid’s school when they are testing for learning disabilities, or any disability for that matter. To me, it seems like common sense that if you want to see how someone learns you go to where they learn all day. It would be like someone whose never seen you at work evaluating your job performance at your doctor’s office. There’s no context and you act differently. Recently, I had a school refuse to let me observe a child in their classroom when the referral is about the child’s attention problems in the classroom and classroom performance. Okay…I’ll just guess how he’s doing in the classroom? sigh
However, another school allowed me to observe a little gal this week and I learned so much. Almost TOO much.
For all of you non-California, non-Bay Area peeps, there are some areas (coughcouchBerkeleycoughcough) and schools that really believe in letting children be free. Some of their schools are set up to be overly child-centered (read: permissive). I’m all about letting kids play and learn without super rigid regulations, but there are some rules needed. Kids need boundaries.
So you can imagine my surprise when I was observing a private school Kindergarten class playing on the schoolyard, and a little girl drops her pants and pees in the garden by the play structure. I was not even sent there to observe that girl, but clearly one’s eye gets drawn to a child squatting at recess. I turn to the director standing next to me, in horror, and she simply says with a neutral expression, “Oh, she’s peeing.” Doesn’t say a word to the girl, then, in the next breath, tells me how much the children love to “get messy here and just play in the dirt.” Right. With the urine. Neat. And with that, the little girl pulls up her pants and gets back on the swings and the director tells me it’s time for snack.
Well alrighty then. You just can’t get this kind of information when you see a kid in your nice little therapy office. Hm. I wonder why this other little gal I was observing at this same school has difficulties following rules at home…I mean, her parents must have some crazy rule that she has to pee in the toilet or something. Sheesh.