I am flexible about working nights and weekends both to accommodate busy clients’ schedules and so I can carve out time during the week to do the community outreach that feeds my soul.  Every Monday morning, I start my day at Lourdes Catholic School in Bettendorf.  I spend first period in a 7th grade math class where I help young teens do pre-algebra and make sense of story problems.  Then I have the pleasure of walking down the stairs to the Kindergarten classroom.  The children are beautiful, they call me “Miss Heidi” and I want to take every one of them home with me. 

This week, I walked into the class as their teacher was instructing them on how to write a capital “E”.  She held up a magnetic board and was leading them in song: “One line down, then HIPPITY-HOP to the top and three little lines!”  The children were standing with rapt expressions next to their desks, she was demonstrating on the magnetic board and whenever they all sang “HIPPITY-HOP”, the kids would jump like frogs, giggling like mad. 

After a couple minutes of hopping and the accompanying laughter, the students were invited to take their seats and actually practice making capital “E”s in their workbooks.  I was charged to engage with the children and help if needed.  It was a delight, but I had to bite my tongue several times to keep from laughing out loud.  All the kids “got” the “one line down” and the “hippity-hop to the top”, but there was some confusion about the “three little lines”.  There were lots of four and fives “little lines” and one especially enterprising young man even had seven!  With their earnest little faces and intent eyes, they let me know that this was a very serious business! 

I’m happy to report that the whole class got the hang of the lesson after a little one-on-one coaching from their teacher and me.  Manned with a yellow highlighter, I was instructed to check workbook pages and draw a yellow star on the pages if the children had accomplished the goal set for them.  With each child, I would crouch down next to them, look into their wide, innocent eyes and tell them, “That is the most AMAZING capital “E” I have ever seen in my life!!”  Oh, the smiles…they absolutely melted my heart! 

To a child, each said to me some version of, “I did really good, didn’t I?”  The trust…the innocence.  Each of those children was proud and wasn’t shy about celebrating that they had accomplished something of value.  Somewhere along the way, that changes for most children and carries into adulthood.  All it takes is one person expressing, either directly or indirectly, that the child’s effort falls short or that he or she isn’t good enough. 

How many adults don’t know how to gracefully accept a compliment?  Rather than responding with a smile and a gracious “Thank you!”, how many mumble that it was nothing or anyone could have done it or some other comment that belittles their accomplishment?  ALL of our children are our future.  It’s all of our responsibility as a community to help raise strong, confident, accomplished young people who are going to hold our world in their hands. 

Please join me today in telling one child just how amazing they really are!