Boundaries…to some it’s a four letter word. To most people, it has negative connotations. Yet, if we really think about it in depth, we realize boundaries are necessary to an orderly life. I like the set of T-shirts that I’ve seen which explain it this way: “I’m the oldest – I make the rules; I’m the middle – I’m the reason we had rules; I’m the youngest – the rules don’t apply to me; and I’m the only child – what are rules?”
It seems in today’s educational world that researchers are discovering that we often take rules or boundaries to the extreme level. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out who decided that one recess period per school day was all children needed, or that secondary students needed no recess time at all. The same teachers who enforce those rules also gripe if they don’t get planning time or a break in their day.
We still allow three recess periods for elementary children, and breaks for all secondary students. I love watching the secondary students walk around our school circular drive (one-sixth of a mile) talking with their friends. I learn a lot about application of concepts taught in class as I watch the elementary children play. When I started Lawton Academy, I brought the car-shaped frame of my grandson’s outgrown bed to the school. Over these seventeen years, I’ve watched it serve as a plane, a race track, a stagecoach, and a dangerous canyon, the rim of which children walked with great care.
Now, I see that researchers are recommending activity before the school day begins. It seems it helps students focus better in class. That’s an observation I made long ago. We call it flooding the brain with blood…ready to take on the day! I also hated watching students at neighboring schools have to sit quietly in the gym and wait for the morning bell to ring. Some schools even forbade children from arriving on the grounds earlier than 10 minutes before the bell. All this may seem trivial to others, but I remember reading the writings of an abused child who said, “I wanted to get to school early. It was the only place I felt safe.”
Yes, I get frustrated with parents who set no boundaries for their children - especially in Wal-Mart! But, let’s not be reactionary in the field of education by setting too many boundaries. A few, sensible rules necessary for safety, are all that should be needed. The more rules one has, the more time is spent enforcing and making judgments as to their severity.
One other aspect of this boundary concept comes to my mind. We must set some boundaries for ourselves in order to find time for refreshing our spirit. If I try to fix every little problem when it comes my way, I will not have time to fix the truly urgent matters. Or, I will be too tired to try to fix them. There is a reason God said for us to work six days and rest on the seventh. Although I have not been able to always set aside a complete day for rest, I am getting better at giving myself some rest time before the new week of school begins. I think I am much better for it.