Beach, pool, BBQs, sunscreen and bug spray may be our focus, but it is unmistaken that when that inevitable crispness grips our air, our minds switch from summer-fun to back-to-school. Whether this is a joyous occasion or the first time you are sending your baby on a yellow bus, preparedness is a must; backpacks, lunchboxes, school supplies, new shoes and clothes are discussed.
With so much on your mind, did you forget to mention to your child that we are all different and unique? Did you remind your child that we do not all look the same, behave the same and learn the same?
More importantly than what teacher we have, we should make our children aware that we are all one of a kind and possess our own special qualities that make us important.
Schools are filled with classrooms of children who all crave acceptance and a sense of belonging which is not as readily available for some kids.
Whether differences lie in appearance, socioeconomic status, ethnicity or abilities, we must teach our children, before another school year begins, that we are to respect others and look for good in everyone. Remember the old saying, “If you don’t have something nice to say…?”
More and more schools are seeing an increase in children with special needs, mainstreamed into heterogeneous classrooms. If this is the case for your child’s educational setting, embrace it.
Whether your child is in kindergarten, middle school or beyond, the foundation for the citizen he/she will become is being created each day with the teacher(s) and peers in their classroom. Compassion, patience, empathy, flexibility and simple kindness are traits that I hope are reinforced in my children’s schooling. I should also be so lucky that at such a young age, my children gain the life-long knowledge that we live in a very diverse world and that acceptance and tolerance are critical to a peaceful world and to a happy individual.
Picture books to prompt such discussion include:
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Just the Way You Are by Marcus Pfister
The Mixed Up Chameleon By Eric Carle
Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Purplicious by Victoria Kann
Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
Whoever You Are by Mem Fox
Tara Hudson received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary and Special Education at The University of Delaware and her Master’s Degree in Education at Stonybrook University. Tara has taught for ten years in the Westhampton Beach School District. Currently in her sixth year as a kindergarten teacher, her passion is working with children each day and watching them grow socially and academically. Tara has done freelance work for The Patch and her writing has also appeared in The Waldo Tribune and Macaroni Kid. Tara lives on Long Island with her husband, children and dog. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, exercising and being outdoors.