From the Superintendent's Office
You’ve Got To Have Friends?
When our children go off to school, two of our biggest concerns are how they will perform academically and how they will do socially. Academic success is fairly easy to assess. From the very start we know if they are learning to read, to solve problems, and are able to keep up with the work they are given by their teachers. Social success is much harder to define and even harder for a parent to impact.
Making friends is a social skill that is greatly admired and encouraged by parents and teachers alike. It’s wonderful to watch your child run off on a playground as part of a group of children who are delighting in some game they’ve made up and in one another’s company.
But what, if anything, should a parent do if instead, they see their child sitting alone on a bench with a book while the other kids appear to be having so much fun together? Before you panic, try to determine how he or she is feeling. Is he engrossed in the book? If so, you may have to accept that he is choosing to do what he likes.
Sometimes parents need to take a step back and assess the situation before trying to change things. Talk to your child’s teacher and ask how he or she is getting along with classmates during school. Talk to your child and find out if he or she wants to play with the group or prefers to pick his or her own activity. The reality is that not all children enjoy the same things or feel comfortable with everyone they happen to be placed in a group with. Your child may be one of those who walk to a different beat, and as difficult as it may be for you, the best thing may be to let him choose his own path.
We’ve talked often in this column about the importance of encouraging your children to find their own personal interests and to pursue it with passion. It’s pretty simple to know what to do if your children show a talent in music, or art, or sports. You’re there cheering them on every step of the way. It’s harder to cheer on the children who clearly don’t fit the norm and stand out as different from their peers. But it’s crucial that your children know that you love and accept them even if they’re not the most sought-after play-dates in the class.
Childhood is very short. Ask any parent with grown children and they’ll agree that it went by in a flash. Look around at all your own co-workers, friends, and family. Look at successful public figures. Do they all conform to the same pattern, share the same interests, and get along with whoever happens to be in the room? Of course not. I have three children, and each one was a different parenting experience. They all had very different interests, talents, strengths, and weaknesses.
Parents need to help their children have the best childhood they can. That may require the flexibility to accept and applaud individuality.#