Saturday, June 05, 2010

Living label free

I am so privileged to teach several wonderful children who have special needs. They have taught me such amazing things over the years, and one of my favorite lessons has been the art of living label free! We are a label society. We love to stick tags on everything in order to identify and understand it, but labels can also have a very negative impact. A label usually comes with a grocery list of adjectives and boundaries. If you have (fill in the label), then you can't (fill in the blank) and you certainly will never be able to (fill in the blank). You get my drift?
I have one very special child in particular. He is the ripe old age of eight and outlived his life expectancy several years ago. He shouldn't even be here, much less running around my Kindermusik classroom every week-smiling, laughing, dancing, and singing!! I guess he never read that grocery list that followed his label. Time and time again, I've seen it with different children. What makes the difference? Why is one child able to accomplish more than another with the same label? Here's what I think:
  • Children are amazingly adaptive. If permitted and encouraged, they will find a way to do what they are interested in.
  • A parent's attitude about a label greatly influences their child's philosophy about it.
  • Use your child's strengths to encourage growth in the weak areas.
  • Make the learning experience as fun and interactive as possible.   
  • Find what motivates your child. They have to WANT to get past the label.


Sally-Ann said...

Great post. I hate labels. As a parent it is my responsibility to peel the labels away and ideally, stop them from being glued on in the first place! I had a 1st grade teacher who told my mother that I would never succeed, never learn, would never graduate from high mother met that teacher many, many years later and enjoyed telling her that I had graduated from high school, nursing school and was doing very well in life. My mother didn't like labels as well. I hope that I can be an advocate for my little boy and become the "goo begone" for the labels that come his way.

Aimee Carter said...

I agree Sally. I think it's all about whether that label is a stigma or a badge that can be worn with honor. Focus on the strengths like your mom did, and you end up with the badge that says SUCCESS! :)