Friday, May 24, 2013

Every Kid is Special

Every parent thinks their kids are special.  I'm a mom and I think my kids are special.  The problem comes when we think our kids are more special than everybody else.  Because the truth is, they're not.

I'm a teacher.  If I had a nickel for every time a parent told me how special their child was I wouldn't have to be a teacher anymore.  

Kids are special.  There's something magical about children.  The Bible calls children a blessing.  And they are.  So let me start off by saying, I love children.  It's why I have my own and what led me to be a teacher.  My kids are a blessing everyday.

The hard part comes when we raise our children to think they are more special than everyone else.  It gives them a false sense of importance.  What does this look like in a classroom?  Entitlement.

A student who has been raised to believe that she is most important does not concern herself with rules.  If the teacher asks everyone to be quiet so she can give instructions, this child feels everyone else needs to be quiet except her.  If the class is lining up to go to lunch, she thinks she should be the line leader, every day.  When playing a game on the playground, she makes up the rules which can change at any moment depending on whether or not she feels she is winning.

This is a kid who has never learned that, yes, she is important, but other people are important, too.  

Kids that are constantly fighting to get their own way are hard to teach.  They take up a large portion of the teacher's time.  They whine and argue.  They make fun activities hard and need constant redirection.  In other words, your "special" kid can drain the life out of my day.

Does that sound harsh?  It's not meant to.  It's the truth of how one student can affect an entire class.  Do you know why it bothers me so much?  Because I think about another kid.  I think about the student who follows the rules.  She's been taught to listen to the teacher, rather than tell the teacher what she should be doing.  She's been taught to take turns and allow others to go first, rather than push and shove her way to the front.  She's been taught to be a good friend and helper, rather than demand that others meet her needs.

I think about her.  And I think about how little I get to interact with her each day.  She gets cheated out of my time, help and attention because in a classroom, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.  

What's the difference between the two?  The squeaky wheel has been taught that she is more important than everyone else.  The polite helper has been taught that everyone is important.

When I stand in front of my classroom and look out at my twenty five (or thirty) students, I know they are all unique.  Each individual child created by God with special gifts, talents and personalities.  Each one designed especially for the path God has prepared for them.  Each one just as important as his neighbor.  

I think about my own girls at home.  Am I teaching them to consider each other?  Am I teaching them to look past their own wants and consider the needs of others?  Or am I raising my girls to be squeaky wheels, whining and complaining to get their way because of some sense of entitlement?   I hope not.  That's not my goal.

Think about how your kids respond when asked to do something for you or someone else.  Think about how they act when you ask them to wait or tell them no.  Think about how well they follow directions when given a task.  Think about how your child responds to those things in a classroom.  

Your child is special.  My child is special.  Every child is special.  On that I think we can all agree.  Now, let's help our kids treat each other that way!

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