I haven’t mentioned it in a while, but my school is especially designed to deal with low income students. We are 95% free and reduced lunch (which means they qualify to have the government supplement their lunches), so we have our own sets of challenges. We are a charter school because of this, and study the published works of Dr. Ruby Payne as our guidelines. She specifically addresses people from poverty. Dr. Payne has lots of specific, researched things in her books–my observations are less scientific. Here are some things that make my kids different than others:
1. They DO NOT understand the concept of marriage. Since mentioning that my husband is overseas, two different students have asked me if I’m cheating on him yet. When I say, "I don’t cheat on my husband" they assume that I am scared of him. I think this is really bizarre, but of the fifty students I teach only one had parents that were married to each other. The sad thing about that is that his mom died this year. They often confuse the words boyfriend and husband and I’m not sure they understand the difference.
2. If someone steals something from you it is YOUR fault. You shouldn’t have left it out to be taken. When it comes to money, you don’t even have to leave it out. If you have it, then assume someone will try to take it.
3. They have more brothers and sisters–on average, my kids have three brothers and sisters.
4. They are the most helpful children EVER. If anything needs to be done that involves moving, cleaning, cutting, pasting, WHATEVER they do it in a group with relatively few problems. I can only assume that when you don’t have a lot of money you depend on others to help out–my kids excel at this. One Friday the math teacher had a few extra minutes at the end of class–they cleaned the whole room.
5. They move a lot–you always have to ask what their phone number is–they move all the time. Usually it’s just down the street, but it happens a lot. When you live paycheck to paycheck you can’t always make the rent–and then you have to move. Sometimes just the kids move–with their aunt, their grandma, or their older sister. This can make it hard to track down a responsible party when the kid is having problems. But we’ll meet with anyone who cares. The other day we had a confrence with a student’s brother’s fiance. We don’t care–if you’re interested in the student’s success then so are we.
Food for thought on this rainy day.