Rio did not know any English when he started attending second grade at Daniel Webster. Since no one else at the school spoke Japanese, he didn’t say much. During his first two weeks, I would often see him standing by the play structure looking lost during recess. I would go over to him and encourage him to play games, but he shrank away. I figured he was just shy.
Soon after his arrival, I decided to play four square during class game time. Although the rest of the class knew the game, Rio didn’t appear to be familiar with it. His classmates helped him even though he had difficulty understanding what was being said to him. In one instance during that class, one of his classmates gently pushed him from the front of the line into the “D” square when it was his turn to enter. Rio caught on after watching demonstrations from his classmates. By the end of the class game time he was doing fine.
During recess the next day, Rio bravely left his spot by the structure and joined a four square game for the first time. It was so good to see him finally playing with the other kids. His classroom teacher walked by and noticed Rio in the game– she smiled and gave me the thumbs up.
Rio was eventually placed in a first grade class which meant he went to a different recess. Despite this change, he continues to play four square most days and is one of the best players on the playground. He always helps the kindergartners who are still learning the game. Now whenever he joins a game, the other kids all know to look out for Rio!