When you think about the basic needs of children, your mind probably goes to food, clothing and shelter. The things all humans need for survival. If you were to help the millions of homeless children in the United States, you might, rightfully, give some canned goods to a local food bank, or donate some blankets to an area shelter. These basic needs are something many of us can easily provide for our own children, and ones we easily take for granted.
There is another childhood need we take for granted: play. Play is a fundamental part of childhood development. Play helps shape our children’s characters, develop critical life skills and forge their sense of self worth. A recent study by the American Association of Pediatrics highlights the importance of play and of every child, regardless of circumstance deserving the right to play.
Play is a vital part of childhood, and something all children deserve to experience. Unfortunately, however, kids who find themselves with unstable housing — often moving from shelter to shelter — rarely get the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of play. Continue reading
Growing up as a child who went to school in the 90s, there was definitely a stigma around special education. Autism diagnoses were much rarer back then, and you maybe saw one or two kids with ADD or ADHD in an entire grade. Most people had never even heard of Sensory Processing Disorder. At least, that is what it seemed like to me, living in my world as a developmentally typical student. The few kids who did need extra help existed in another world to me. I didn’t really understand what challenges they and their families faced.
What I did understand, however, were labels. And the label of being a kid who needed “special education” was full of stigmas. The stigma of not being smart. The stigma of not being normal. The stigma of not being able to cut it in the regular world.
I would like to think that I was a kind person in my younger days, but I am sure I had my moments of looking down on those students who couldn’t cut it in a regular classroom. Maybe I thought, if only they worked harder. Or they are just making excuses. Or why do they get extra help?
As someone who had a relatively easy time in school, I often failed to comprehend why others might struggle. I didn’t know that many students learn differently and that didn’t make them any less intelligent or curious or eager to achieve than me.
I gained a whole new perspective on how kids learn, after having two kids of my own. Continue reading
From his earliest days of playground exploration, my son would be in constant contact with other children. Whether it was an angry push, an enthusiastic hug, or just a curious touch, he never kept his hands to himself.
He’s only one, I told myself. He’ll grow out of it.
My son grew older and more agile. He could climb and jump and keep up with kids three times his age. He still pushed. He still hit. He still tackled kids he loved.
Organized activities, like story time or music class were a nightmare.
He’s only two, I told myself. He’ll grow out of it. Continue reading
You have to share. Those words make me cringe just a little bit more every time I hear them or utter them myself. Although, I do have a problem with how kids are taught to share, I am not entirely against the concept. Sharing is a social skill that benefits all. Many awesome things, like Zipcar, run on the premise of taking turns. My problem is with how young children are taught to share.
Our intentions are good, however, I believe in establishing these generally accepted expectations for how kids should behave, we have done them a bit of a disservice. We are robbing them of autonomy, and failing to encourage true and meaningful kindness.
I propose a new set of rules that honor our children’s ability to figure things out on their own and respects their need to feel in control of their actions.