This year we adopted a 2nd grade class at the school 2 blocks from our clean bright offices. The school is new and beautiful. It also has a fully-stocked completely-locked library. The kids have never once walked inside because they lack the funds to hire a librarian.

Before Christmas, some of our staff threw them a holiday party. At one station, the kids made cards for someone in their family.

One child wrote, “I hope you have a good Christmas in jail.”

Another wrote, “Merry Christmas mom and dad. When you coming home?”

You might think that children growing up in such unstable families are rough and rude. You would think wrong.

I went yesterday to help for 50 minutes. I sat at a blob of desks with 6 children and helped them learn about forests. They read several pages to each other, wrote definitions to new words, then wrote their own sentences using those words. They made good deductions about the meanings of those new words.

“Miss Joy, sub means like when our teacher doesn’t come to school, we have a sub. So does subcanopy mean a different canopy?”

“Does Adapt means like to adopt one of those kids from Haiti who are living on the streets?”

These kids were listening and thinking. Sure, they needed encouragement to stay focused, but seven and eight-year-olds do. I know. I have one of my own.

Their teacher had excellent classroom control. But she never smiled. She ran them through the lesson fast and loud, like she was just powering through each day with the sole goal of reaching the end. She appeared to derive no pleasure from her work. She reminded me of me on days when sleep eludes and children are barriers to accomplishing the day’s goals instead of the goals themselves.

Interacting with them for those few minutes today, hearing them ask us to come back and seeing their shining eyes when their teacher  handed us a stack of thank-you notes for the party, I realized just how valuable it is to a child to pay attention to them.

Who can you encourage today with a little attention?

This post is part of Chatting at the Sky’s series, Tuesdays Unwrapped. Click the link to read more treasures unwrapped this past week.