“It takes a village to raise a child.” is an African proverb I love. Wikipedia states it means “it takes an entire community of different people interacting with children in order for a child to experience and grow in a safe environment. The villagers would look out for the children.”
Now that I’m a parent, I understand even more. I’d like children to learn, experience and grow in a safe environment. At times what happens is not learning at all. It’s an experience that effects someone’s self worth as a result of the negative actions of others. I wish that we could protect children from every negative experience. We can’t. But we should start by teaching our own children to be unconditionally kind to each other. Teach them to reach out to others that need kindness.
Following is a poignant article posted on FaceBook by a friend of mine and special education teacher, Kate Baleiko-Rogers. It is in honor of Special Education Week May 12-May18 and says everything I want to say, only much more eloquently.
When you have a “typical” child, you feel reasonably assured that class participation and decent study habits will result in good grades. These kids have close friends. They get invited to participate in social things like dances and weekend gatherings. They make the teams and clubs.
But when you have a child with certain differences, this is often not the case. Learning may take longer, both academically and socially. Despite their tremendous efforts, results are often a fraction of their peers and social acceptance is fleeting, setting them up for painful comparisons and bitter frustration. Instead of a fun and fulfilling experience, school can become a breeding ground for depression and anxiety. It is exhausting for parent and child alike.
This is the week of SPED (Special Education), Autism, Dyslexia, and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) awareness. For all the children who struggle every day to succeed in a world that does not recognize their gifts and talents, and for those who are walking beside them, please let this be a gentle reminder to be kind and accepting of ALL people. Recognize that the “playing field” is not always a level surface. Children who learn differently are not weird. They are merely gifted in ways that our society does not value. Yet they want what everyone else wants: To be accepted.
If you choose, please copy and paste this in honor of all children who are deemed “different”. Our world would be far less beautiful without them.