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The City Journals

Majestic Elementary is playing for keeps

Jan 30, 2019 10:48AM ● By Jet Burnham

Jason Foster enjoys spending the evening playing with his kids. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

In December, families from Majestic Elementary were invited to a family game night. They received a brand-new game of Sorry! along with tips on how to use the game to practice social skills with their children. The game night is an example of how Majestic staff supports their families and community — which they will not be able to continue to do if the district follows through with their plans to close the school in 2020.

“You can’t do this at the other schools for these families—they wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing,” said Principal Kathe Riding. 

Most principals can’t afford to buy games for every family in their school. But with just 340 students, Riding only had to purchase 145 games (which she got for Black Friday prices). This is just one example of the ways Majestic staff members believe they can uniquely meet the needs of the students and community.

“Our school serves a unique purpose, and closing it would be an injustice,” said Majestic teacher Heather Reisch.

Majestic faculty members hope Jordan District officials will see the good work they are doing for the students and the community and see the value in keeping the school open.

“This activity isn’t specifically geared toward that, but maybe it will be a happy side effect of helping people understand the sort of impact we can have on the community at this school,” said the school’s licensed social worker Kami Huff. 

Huff planned the family activity as a way to invite parents to participate in the school’s social skills curriculum.

The game Sorry! was chosen for the activity because it provides many opportunities to practice good sportsmanship.

“It’s good for their social skills because you win a lot during the game and you lose a lot during the game,” Riding said.

Travis George said playing the game with his son Dante George provided the first-grader practice dealing with disappointment. While Dante relished knocking his parents’ pieces out of play, he didn’t like getting his pieces sent back to start. Dante’s mom, Lisa George, said her son can get frustrated when things don’t go his way. She believes playing the game can help prepare him to handle disappointments that will occur in life.

“Sorry!, I think, is a really good game for him because we can tell him, ‘Sorry, stuff happens,’” she said. 

Parents were encouraged to model appropriate responses for their child while playing the game together. Huff provided a worksheet with suggestions of how to say “sorry” and how to handle winning and losing appropriately. Huff suggested parents praise specific actions that helped the winner be successful:  not giving up, paying attention and planning ahead. Families were encouraged to discuss successful strategies, what each player did well and how they could improve the next time they play. 

“The whole point is to try to help kids learn how to play the game but also learn some life skills of how to handle these sorts of disappointments,” said Huff, who said losing is a big deal for elementary-aged kids. “It’s also something that can carry on in other areas of their lives. If you can learn how to lose, then you can learn to deal with being told no a little bit easier. It’s something that would carry over in other areas of their personal lives and also life here in school.”

Jason Foster brought his kids — aged 4, 5 and 7 — to the activity night to spend a fun evening together. He said playing games as a family provides his kids with opportunities to be kind, share and take turns.

Riding said playing games is a low-cost and simple way for young families to enjoy time together. She made sure every family, not just those who attended the event, received a board game to take home. 

The goal for the evening was to bring families together in fun quality time while providing a medium for social skills training, said Riding.