Maniac Monday: Free to Be You and Me–It’s Okay to be Different
October 26, 2009 in Chapter Books, Elementary Educators, High School Teachers, Maniac Mondays, Picture Book Tags: building self-esteem in kids, celebrating differences, free to be you and me, self-esteem books
At my stepson’s parent teacher conference last week, we had an interesting conversation about how he is feeling different. He goes to reading and math class for help in these areas; and being in third grade, he is finally starting to care that he is not doing the same thing as everybody else in his class of twelve (he goes to a small Catholic school). At the conference, I told everyone that I wasn’t sure if the way to handle this situation was to assure him that he is not different, because he is. He goes to a different class for reading. But really, who cares? One of his classmates is African American, another one loves dance, and some have trouble with social studies tests. These are all differences, too. My stepson is skilled in art, building things and explaining how things work, and an extremely compassionate kid toward others. These are differences, too. My point was let’s celebrate differences instead of convincing kids that everyone has the same talents, interests, culture, or religion. That’s not the answer, in my humble opinion.
Immediately, I started thinking about the movie I used to watch in the late 1970s in elementary school about how it was okay to be different–I’m sure if you are a child of the 70s and 80s, you’ve probably seen this movie before too–Free to Be You and Me. One thing I forgot was Michael Jackson singing with Roberta Flack about how he’s not going to change when he grows up. There’s a part where a boy wants to play with a doll and a football player singing “It’s Alright to Cry.” I just remember loving every year when we watched this. It is such a positive, self-esteem building movie. Do we have resources like this in today’s school? Do we have time in this standardized testing world?
I say we celebrate differences. We need to stop sending kids the message, however we are doing it, that it’s not okay to be different. We need to tell them, “It’s great to be different!” As a matter of fact, we should tell kids it is impossible not to be different. Here are some other resources I found when I was looking around for books to go with this post:
This entire experience has given me an idea to start drafting an idea for a picture book about celebrating differences with kids. I really think that’s where it’s at. And this starts at home and in the classroom.
If you have any experiences or resources you’d like to share, please do!