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Subject: Why I'm disappointed in the local public school system rss

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Caleb Wynn
United States
Cartersville
Georgia
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My name is Caleb, and I am disappointed with the public schools in my area. Let me explain. As mentioned in this thread here: http://boardgamegeek.com/article/2004455#2004455 I mentor two children at the local elementary school. One of them is 6 the other 10. Their names are K.C. and Shay as they will be referred to from this point on.

So, I mentor these two children and we do a lot together once a week. Sometimes we go outside and play and sometimes we walk and talk. But on days when the weather is too hot or cold or rainy we have to stay inside. What else is there to do inside but play board games? So, we will make the small walk from their classroom to the library (I mentor them separately, one at 11:30 and the other at noon) and look at the games. This is where things get depressing.

Of the selection of about ten games, only a couple are suitable for either child's age or our time constraints. Let's start with K.C. He is a good kid and mildly autistic and an absolute joy to be around. He really gets a kick out of hanging out with me. After 2 years of mentoring him (this year being my second) he is finally starting to talk to me. I must say that this is a most rewarding experience and really does fill me with joy knowing that I am helping someone. However, when we go to use the schools selection of games there are about 2 that he can play and enjoy. He can't play any of the children trivia games as they are too hard for him to understand the questions. We can't play the number game because the math is too advanced. And here is the really terrible part, we can't play any but one of the other games because they are all missing half or more of the pieces! We play a lot of trouble because of this. And even that might not last long as we have to mix and match the pieces to be able to play it at all.

Now, we play it a lot and he really has fun popping the bubble, so I also have a great time knowing that he is having a great time. But after playing trouble a few times a week for nearly a year now, he is getting tired of it. This would not be a problem if the school actually had something else to play. They don't. And this is what makes me furious. I understand that kids lose things, it is just the way it goes. But would it kill the librarians to check each game every other month to make sure the pieces are all there? I don't think it would. The hardest thing for me is to have to tell little K.C. that we can't play a game because it is missing too many of the necessary pieces. His response, "Ok..." with a horribly depressed face and these huge eyes that would make even the coldest individual's heart shatter.

Second, is Shay. Now, the problem here is that none of the games are appropriate for his age. Any of the learning games are below his level of skill and the others he just doesn't find interesting (and I can't blame him). So I end up bringing games like Zombies!!! or Fluxx, games we can play in under 30 minutes. Here is the second problem I have with the school. Why only games that 5-8 year olds are going to enjoy? Couldn't you art least get clue or something a bit more stimulating for an older child? Shay's quandary is easier to alleviate as I can bring games that I own to play with him. However, I myself am in college (studying to teach actually) and don't have a huge budget for games. So I don't really have much that can be played in under half an hour. I am working on this however, and will be buying some games shortly that I can play with both of these kids.

Point three, I am going to be appealing the school board about this problem pretty soon as I believe that there is a lot out there that the kids could learn from or just use for fun. I will also be donating a few games to the school so that the other mentors can use them with their children and so forth. Unfortunately, this does not address the other schools in the district and I feel that it is more than likely the same situation at those. Hence, the reason I would like to address this issue at the next Board of Education meeting.

Well, I just wanted to throw this out there and see if anyone else who has mentored in the past or does now has this problem with their schools. I for one am getting sick and tired of having to look a child in the eyes and tell him we can't play a game due to the fact that the school just doesn't keep up with the situation.

Note: I have addressed this to the school itself and it seemed to fall on deaf ears.
 
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Chris Carpenter
United States
Naples
FLORIDA
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Bring in a copy of Blokus. Enjoy.
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M Hellyer
United States
Aurora
Illinois
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I wouldn't expect a school district to provide any games, except learning simulations directly related to course content. I've done some games in schools, and pieces have a way of falling on the floor and rolling away, and kids don't take that good care of shared games since they didn't pay for them.

When I taught 12 kids chess class, I bought 12 chess games for $2.99 each. Once they showed up three times in a row they got to keep a game. For the tournament at the end each year I had a Simpsons chess game I bought on eBay to give the winner. Each week prior to the tournament two kids got to play the Simpsons set which got them interested in winning it.

I guess I don't understand (it's a long message so I might have missed something) why you're expecting public schools to supply and maintain boardgames for kids. I think it's wonderful you mentor the kids, and if you had 3-4 games on hand for each of them that you'd take home when you're done, the games would be safe and would last for years. Maybe some other mentors could share the cost and buy more games to rotate. Maybe the school PTO/PTA could provide some money for games.

My wife is a public school elementary teacher and she has an incentive periodically where those who read so many books and demonstrate comprehension get to our house to play boardgames on a Saturday afternoon. The biggest hits for 4th graders so far have been Aggravation and Midnight Party. I'm trying to find others they will enjoy equally as much.

I agree - there is much to be gained from boardgaming with kids. Not just the fun, but the structure, following rules, taking turns, fair play, and social interaction. We've done 5th grade Saturdays of chess, Monopoly and Risk, and all were a hit. These are kids who have mostly only played checkers, so there's not any game playing going on at home, and they are excited to play games.

I hope I didn't misunderstand anything in your note. Keep up the gaming!
 
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Caleb Wynn
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Cartersville
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Well, through my long and drawn out post I realize that it might be a bit easy to misunderstand. I understand that the schools don't really have to provide games or anything, and I understand that pieces get lost. My thing is that the PTA (which I did fail to mention) doesn't seem to really care about resources for the mentors to use, but they absolutely HAVE to have mentors. In turn, 1) the mentors who don't have anything to do on rainy days or whatever get the shaft, and 2) if we want anything to do we have to provide it ourselves.

Now, this isn't really a problem for me as I have lots of games to bring with me. But my concern is mainly for the other mentors/mentees(sp?) who get the shaft because of the schools selection or at the time of this writing, lack there of. I have already begun to bring my own games and such. But I may start buying a copy of something here or there to keep in my mom's room (she teaches at the school) and informing the counselor that the mentors are welcome to use them.

This way, 1)there is a smaller chance that games will be missing pieces due to a smaller number of people using them and 2)there will be something for the other mentors to use with their kids on rainy days or days that the children just want to stay inside.

Sorry for my scatterbrained post earlier, it was my fault for not posting a more clear and concise statement. shake

Note: I realize I wrote school board in my original post, this should have been PTA. Sorry. blush
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