Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ants, Apples & Advent

I have worked 26 weeks now at the Hoppy Palace Phonics Center here in Hong Kong.  I know this because we just started the letter "A" again, and once again I trudged out to find an ant (a nice large one) for my kids to examine.

Many little children in Hong Kong  have so little time to watch, wait, and wonder.

A recent article in the South China Morning Post reported that some anxious Hong Kong parents are enrolling their three year old children in two kindergarten programs at a time, hoping to give their kids an "edge" in the extremely competitive school systems.  Little ones are spending as much as ten hours a day in school.

In the Christian Church year, A is for Advent, and ancient tradition counsels us to watch and wait for the dawn of the new Creation: the birth, and one day the return, of Jesus the Christ.

So this week, before turning to the book work, the circling of letters and the phonics blending exercises, I spend some time with my little students, just watching the ant, as he eats his apple.  (A is for ant and A is for apple). I have cut fresh apple slices for my students, too, and we munch together, in our closet-sized classroom with its sterile, plastic furnishings.  This is not a Christian school where I am free to share the Bible stories, and I don't think many of my students know much about the real Christmas.  But now they have had a tiny taste of Advent, a time to slow down and  marvel at the intricacies of one of God's littlest creatures.

"Go to the ant... consider its ways and be wise!"  -- Proverbs 6:6

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