Monday, July 08, 2013

Bike safety 101

I think this summer is going to go down in history as being busy, busy, busy. I can't say that I had a restful holiday weekend BUT it was a fun one. Lots of riding, lots of BBQ'ing and lots of taking care of dogs (more on this later).

Sunday night I had to work until 11 p.m. and didn't get to bed until 1 a.m. Waking up this morning at 6 a.m. to a cold, wet dog nose of one of labs I'm dog-sitting for was rather brutal. I was very, very tempted to go back to bed but I had to get up and make a "STOP" sign for a bike safety class that I was teaching later on in the day.


I've visited a few different schools over the last couple of years and have worked with classes anywhere between 2nd and 6th grade. Today was my youngest group, as it was a summer day camp for kids entering kindergarten in the fall. Basically the camp was designed to get the "little's" used to raising their hand, asking to use the bathroom, snacking on graham crackers etc.

Anyways, I was speaking to 3 different classes (40 kids) of the pre-kindergartners at the same time for 45 minutes about bike safety. I wasn't quite sure what to expect because I really don't know any kids in kindergarten but I figured that they wouldn't have much of an attention span. A few of my friends in education told me I had about a 5-minute window. Which had me a little worried about what I was going to do for the remaining 40 minutes. So I asked bribed my little sister Toni with a new pair of running shorts to come with me as back-up. I figured she could teach them a few exercises in-between talking about safety.

It worked...kind of.

First I showed them my bike and within minutes one of the kids was grabbing my chain. Then we talked about the most important thing...bike helmets. I had Toni put her helmet on the wrong way several different times and they loooooooooved that. All of the kids were like..."hahahahhahahah" and pointing their fingers and acting like I was the funniest person on earth.  I was quietly patting myself on the shoulder thinking that I was a genius.

That's when things started to backwards fast. I didn't realize it but my 5-minute window was already up.

After the helmet exercise I tried to talk about watching out for cars in driveways and such but it was game over. The kids were raising their hands with questions, but no one was waiting for me to call on them. All they wanted to see was Toni put her helmet on backwards again.

And then one of the most surreal experiences of my entire life happened. I was quizzing them on helmet safety and they got so excited that they started laughing. And then the laughter turned into a few excited screams. I made the mistake of laughing out loud when this happened, which they took for encouragement.

All of a sudden I had 40 screaming kindergartners in a very small room trying to scream louder then all their friends. And I'm not joking or exaggerating about this!!!!!

I feel the need to reiterate!!! 40 kindergartners screaming at the top of their lungs. I think I went into shock for a moment or two because all I remember is looking down and seeing a boy with his hands on his cheeks and a big grin on his fact, shaking his head left and right and howling at the ceiling.

It was like a scene from a movie where a new teacher comes into a room and all the kids start running around and screaming. I always thought those movies were an exaggeration but NO! It really happens!

Eventually everyone calmed down (thanks to one of the teachers), we did a few more exercises and I am pretty confident that the kids at least realize how important a helmet is. And they all seem to own them. In fact, a few of the kids might own more helmets then me. One boy told me that he owned 10 helmets :-)

All in all, a good day. It was kind-of-freaking-awesome being around kids that get so excited about the littlest things. And by the end I was getting random hugs non-stop. I think kindergartners are pretty great.

It also enforced a belief of mine that I feel very, very strongly about. Teachers need to get paid more...much, much, much more :-)

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