What can we do for children who struggle in their home environments? How can we make a meaningful impact?
In her powerful post, Anne Page from Beautiful Speech Life shares surprisingly simple ways you can make a real difference for those kids who sorely need an extra dose of kindness.
I work in a Title 1 inner-city School, which means we receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education. This is because a high percentage of our students are from low-income families. They’re basically from a lot of different backgrounds.
Many of them deal with issues at home that they shouldn’t have to even think about. In my Ideal World, children would be loved and nurtured in a loving environment. However, in my real world, some of those factors aren’t coming together.
For example, there’s the boy who didn’t come to school on Monday because he didn’t have a clean uniform shirt to wear because his single mom couldn’t make it to the laundromat over the weekend. She probably didn’t have a car to get herself there or the money to pay once she did get there. And now his white uniform shirt is grey and food-stained because he had to wear it so many times.
Then there’s the little girl who’s suddenly acting out, which is really not like her. I do some digging and get her to draw a picture of how she’s feeling. The picture shows her Stickman dad with open arms and her as a little stick girl with her arms open running to him. She writes “I want my dad for me”. (Her dad is in prison). She doesn’t know why, but I do. He is in jail because he molested his other daughter.
As much as I’d like to quickly change into my Wonder Woman outfit and pluck them out of their home environments, I can’t. It doesn’t work that way. Life isn’t black and white. I can’t bring all the kids home with me.
What I can do however, is work with our social worker and the rest of the team to make sure these children are safe. What I can do, is to shower them with kindness. I can be their port in a storm and you can too. As a school SLP you develop a special radar to detect these kids, because sometimes it’s not so obvious.
With the little ones, it’s easy. An extra hug, words of encouragement, stopping to give high fives, and giving positive specific feedback all go far toward making a child feel appreciated and loved.
With the older ones, sometimes it’s as simple as showing up every day. Because they live in a tumultuous world they need something / someone they can count on. They know you’ll be there with a ready smile. Knowing they have at least one person who likes them is huge.
Watch for the kids who linger and want to spend extra time with you. You know the ones who pop into your room on the way to recess. It’s okay to stop writing your IEP or Medicaid billing or report and give them a couple extra minutes of your time. You’ll be glad you did.
For me, it’s a great honor and privilege to share the light of kindness where it’s needed most. Really, it’s kind of selfish on my part, because all this kindness makes me feel really great. As SLPs, we really are part of something bigger than ourselves.
Special thanks to Claudia for asking me to be a part of this wonderful project. I’m Anne Page MS, CCC-SLP and you can find me at www.beautifulspeechlife.com.
Check out more wonderful ideas from the Kindness Project here!
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