As the seasons begin to change and my garden starts to bear it’s last vegetables, I often think about what gardening has taught me. With the recent start of school, I came upon this quote and realized how much gardening and children can have in common. How you ask? The quote above makes such sense to me – yet it is not typically how we address children who may learn differently.
We all know that children learn in many different ways. As parents, educators, professionals and other concerned adults, our question is often “How can we help them to be the best they can be?” We want children to be successful, we need them to blieve in themselves and to learn so that they can be our future. However, there are times when we fall short in our expecttions and how we may react to those children who learn differently.
When a child doesn’t learn like the rest, we say they are lazy, unmotivated or need to try harder. In these situations we usually look towards the child and insist that they need to change. We believe and often even say to the child these phrases that in fact, tear down and hurt the child. Think about it in terms of the gardening . . . This summer, my tomatos were not growing. The leaves were not as large, the fruits were smaller and not turning red, and the soil seemed hard. Did I yell at the tomatos? Tell them to perk up and insist it was all their fault? NO!!! I looked at the soil, the weather, the amount of water and more. I added fertilizer, water and weeded. I moved some peppers that were crowding these precious Roma tomatoes. And guess what? They started growing and blooming and producing more and more fruits. Not because I fussed at them, blamed them, or told them to get it together. Things improved because I changed the environment.
In taking this quote and comparison to gardneing into account, how can we tell a child they need to change? The sole responsibility of change is not with the child. We all play a part and the environment is part of that equation and solution. Instead, what we can do is help to change their environment and give them accommodations and modifications to foster their growth.
If you have a physical disability, you are given services. Learning disabilities can be harder to see than physical disabilities. However, it is just as important that learning disabilities are noted and appropriate services are provided to help support the child’s learning. So the next time a child is struggling in school don’t say, “the child need to change or try harder.” Instead, say “how can this learning environment change to better support and foster the child’s learning?” When we do this, we plant not only the seeds for tomorrow, we care for the fruits and flowers and watch them BLOOM.