Looking Back on Life from a Fourth Grade Perspective

I had some interesting discussions with students at the Harmony School of Science on Monday this week. I visited there and read from my new book, Twitch the Squirrel and the Forbidden Bridge, to a group of first-graders and a group of fourth-graders. I also gave them a short preview of my new chapter book, The Knighting of Sir Kaye. They are very interested to see what the chapter book will be like.Both groups of students really seemed to enjoy Twitch. In case you didn’t know, the story is about a young squirrel who disobeys his parents and crosses a dangerous bridge to try to get some really nice-looking acorns. On his way back, he learns really quickly why his parents told him to stay off that bridge. I think the first-grade students liked the story on its own, but the fourth-grade students and I had some nice discussions about the meaning of the story—maybe because fourth-graders are older and are able to look back on their early years with a little perspective now, so they really seemed to relate to the story. I heard many different experiences  from students about rules their parents gave them that they didn’t understand when they were younger but now they can say that they understand and appreciate the rules. Here’s a few:

  1. Go to sleep when you should be asleep so you don’t oversleep and get to school late.
  2. Do your homework so you can get good grades.
  3. Don’t go look at toys when your mom is shopping for other things and she says not to. You can get lost.
  4. Don’t play with your dad’s razor. If you’re little you might cut half your eyebrow off.
  5. Don’t play football in the house. Stuff breaks.
  6. Don’t play with scissors. You might stab yourself by accident and still have the mark. Or you might cut your eyelashes off.
  7. Don’t climb on the roof and act like a fireman when you’re really little.
  8. Look both ways before crossing the street.
  9. Wearing seatbelts makes sense if you think about it.

I also heard a sad story about someone’s cousin who broke his foot and after that, when his mom told him not to go on his skateboard, he didn’t listen and he went on his skateboard anyway and then he broke his other foot. Then one of the teachers shared a story about how her mom once told her not to ride her bike outside of their neighborhood near a construction area and she did it anyway and got hurt, just like her mom had said would happen.

Everyone has a story to tell. But the general opinion was well-expressed by one of the students, when he said that “Parents have been alive way longer than you,” and that their rules can help you out because they know more stuff.I also asked students what kind of rules they would make if they had their own children. Here are some of them:

  1. Play video games and do what you want, but don’t do anything dangerous like go in the street.
  2. Respect adults.
  3. Do what you want, but if you’re not sure, come ask my advice.
  4. Never go onto a farm. You might step in a hole and sprain your ankle.
  5. Never go on a giant bull ride. You will end up with a broken leg or sprained ankle.
  6. Be careful of monster trucks.

So it’s clear to me that these students understand the connection between respecting their parents’ rules and staying safe. It’s also clear to me that there’s a few more interesting stories out there that I DIDN’T get to hear on Monday. I really wonder what happened to inspire the rule about monster trucks.

Here was a nice surprise I found when I turned a corner at the school. That’s a good-looking board, if I do say so myself!