I’ve been trying to put my finger on what it is that makes Little Red’s class so special. It’s more than just the language. It is the collection of children who, by all accounts of the teacher and her aide, play well together, do not fight, and do not segregate themselves by gender or in cliques. Certainly when lice fell as a pestilence on the class, inflicting 9 of the 20 students, there was no teasing and no one was made to feel badly over something out of his or her control. (Not so when lice went through my elementary school, I’ll tell you that.) No one seems to care that Little Red sucks his thumb, either, although I almost wish they would. (almost)
How did this random class of twenty become so perfect? Well, for one thing, it isn’t a random collection, it is a self-selected sample of people and not a representative sample of public school children (and families.) Regardless of how many families are actually Italian, everyone has the Italian philosophy. For our class it is all about food, parties, and including everyone.
Instead of getting the teachers more holiday mugs or some other cluttering-but-classic teacher’s gift, we pooled our money together and got them something really nice! In the end, with a connection to wholesale spa gift cards, each teacher got a certificate for a spa, and a gift basket, and we had enough left over to buy a listening station for the classroom. It was a loaves and fishes miracle if I ever saw one. (That wasn’t even the first time we’ve collected money, we wanted to boost the classroom library and Italian books are hard to come by, so we each tossed in some money in the fall, too.)
On the last day before the winter break we had a class party wherein the children performed some of the songs they had learned, and Babo Natale even showed up! Little Red wanted to give each of his classmates a gift, so we bought some Christmasy pencils and attached gift tags which he signed.
When all the festivities were over, we potlucked a feast outside. We had tables and tables of food!
What I find most remarkable about that was that two days later we all met at the home of one of the families for another class party, where we gave the teachers their gifts and got to know each other better. Within 24 hours of the party being over the hosts had sent out a note on our yahoo! group asking if it was too early to make this an annual tradition.