Laughter

There is just something about children’s laughter that makes it one of my favorite things to hear. Perhaps it’s the fact that the littlest things we tend to forget or take for granted are often what brings amazing joy into our lives. I am 21 and still feel like I am a kid at heart and I hope that never goes away. Kids just have this special way of embracing the simple and sweet things about life. Why can’t the majority of us still do that as we get older??

I want you to meet two little first graders that I had the joy of tutoring this year, Alona and Jquan. In early May, they both graduated and words cannot describe how happy and proud I am of them.

I tutored them in math, spelling and reading. Alona was strong in reading but struggled in math; whereas, Jquan was strong in math but struggled in reading. They both were the same with their spelling, but it was just a good balance to work hard on both their strengths and weaknesses. It was sweet to see that when one was struggling the other would be quick to help.

There were times where I could tell Alona would get frustrated when she got stuck on a math problem or didn’t improve on the tests I would give her.  Jquan, too, would have times of frustration when he got stuck during his turn to read a book or while going over vocabulary note cards. The thing that I loved was that they never gave up. Jquan and I would go over vocabulary words again and again until he was finally able to read every word within seconds. He even started to rap or sing out the words and have fun with them!

To track their progress, Jquan and Alona took math tests on the computer at the end of each month. Jquan was like an all-star, but Alona had to work hard on her math each month. I knew Alona got upset when she felt like she wasn’t improving fast enough. It broke my heart when I would see tears forming in her eyes when she was stuck on a problem. I gave her the best encouragement I could to help bring her chin up and give her some confidence. Soon Alona started coming in with her math homework already done and telling me how she practiced at home. I was impressed at her determination to do well.

When the time came for the last test they would take, I was blown away at how amazing Alona did! She answered twice as many problems and answered each one quicker than before. Words cannot describe the happiness on her face. She even broke out into a little dance! I was so overwhelmed with joy for her that I started to get teary-eyed (I’m starting to become like my mom… which isn’t a bad thing!).

The fun thing about tutoring is when we were done with homework, lessons and tests, and we had time to play some fun and crazy games! Regardless of the tough day it might have been for them, they always enjoyed the games and their smiles and laughter would always come back out again. We would play on the playground, run around, kick balls, climb things and make-up games.

One day I brought my camera and Alona wanted to be the photographer. She took pictures of herself, Jquan, the other kids, me, the sky, flowers, her hands and even bugs. It was the little and happy things that caught her eye. It’s amazing how much fun a kid has with a camera. Thank goodness it was a digital camera and not film camera. I would probably be in debt if I developed how many pictures she took! I loved looking at every picture though.

Even though tutoring ended in May, I still get to spend time with them and many other kids during summer camp. I can’t wait to experience one more month of learning and laughing with Alona and Jquan. It was such a blessing to be able to be by their sides and help guide and tutor them along our journey in learning. They showed me this new way of living life to its fullest. They taught me that even when things get tough and you feel stuck to never give up, to stay motivated, to work hard, and to make sure you do something fun by the end of the day that makes you laugh.

Look around you, remember the small things in life and appreciate the beautiful things this world has to offer.  Learn something new and accomplish your goals. Give yourself that joy of “I finally did!!” Bring that “kid” inside you out by experiencing things with a new kind of appreciation. Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy and live your life with smiles and laughter. Laughter is pretty contagious and the best kind of medicine out there.

I will always cherish and keep these two kids dear to my heart.

– jenna

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