Saturday, December 25, 2010
Madrid: Ricky at the Numont School
Last Tuesday December 21, Ricky went to his last day of school at the Numont School of Madrid. We’ve been happy with the school. It is a small English school, the oldest British school in Madrid. It is in a quiet neighborhood, without much in the way of facilities but with a great staff that really cares about students. We chose our current apartment in Madrid because it is close to the school, only about two blocks away.
It was expensive to send him to private school, and we will not miss that expense. He attended the school for one full year plus one term (this is what the English call each trimester); he was there for reception and part of year one. Reception is what in the United States is called preschool, and year one is the equivalent to kindergarten. The school followed the British educational curriculum, which is very demanding, perhaps a bit too academic for children as small as Ricky.
Ricky complained that he hardly played this year, compared to last year with Miss Pammy. His year in reception was incredibly positive for Ricky. He started to write some letters and numbers and to read a little, and he also learned to be social in a large group. He loved it, and Miss Pammy knew how to motivate him and use positive reinforcement. He wanted to marry Miss Pammy. The head teacher, Mrs. Gemmell, also became close friends with Ricky.
About a week and a half ago, Ricky decided to go visit Mrs. Gemmell in her office. He had just had lunch and wanted to tell her something. He walked out of the lunch room by himself, went up the stairs and knocked on her door. She told him to come in. Ricky stepped into Mrs. Gemmell’s office and said, “I ate all the meatballs.” She congratulated him. He told her, “You said about presents.” Apparently, in the past, Mrs. Gemmell had said that if Ricky ever ate all his food (he rarely does), she would give him a present. So here he was, ready to claim what was his. Mrs. Gemmell gave him a little spiral agenda book. Ricky is not afraid to ask for things.
This year, he did not enjoy school as much. A lot of reading and writing was required, and Miss Davies, his year one teacher, was stricter than he was accustomed to. One thing about Ricky: he does not perform on demand, and he does not take well to negative reinforcement. He truly does not care what people think, and it is impossible to bully him into doing things, which brings us to the frogs.
Children in Miss Davies’ class had two-dimensional paper frogs tacked to a board in the back of the classroom. The children each had a frog. When a child misbehaved, his or her frog was moved, and some privileges, such as golden time, were taken away. This academic year, Ricky was constantly in fear of his frog moving. It was very stressful, the frog thing. He complained frequently about school. He felt that by going to school, he risked having his frog move, and he preferred to be safe, and stay away, rather than risk losing his frog.