I try hard to refrain from calling children bad. In education, there is significant debate and discussion about calling children bad. There are those who blame the problems in our education system to the behaviors of the children. When I say, “I see children, not behaviors,” I mean this is still a time of development of school appropriate behaviors.
For me working in an elementary school, I feel strongly about how we are labeling our children especially our black and brown children. Too often they get slapped with these labels. I am not here to argue any medical diagnosis because I know how strongly people feel about that topic, so I’ll stick to school and classroom behaviors.
Majority of the children who start kindergarten come in at age five. For many of them, it is their first time in school. Kindergarteners are full of energy. With the extended day at my school, they have so many wiggles they need to get out. So there are times in the day where they get out of their seat, and they rock in their chair. I have five years old in my school that talk more than others. They play differently. They struggle to keep their hands to themselves, but they aren’t trying to hurt anyone. That is just how they are taught to play.
We have to teach the behaviors we want to see from our children. We have to teach the right behaviors. Our school children come from a variety of backgrounds and upbringings, and they experience things and see things that carry over into the school. How can we punish them for those bad learned behaviors if we don’t teach the right behaviors?
Kindergarten teacher Juanita Price who understands the development that happens as children enter school says:
From the moment they open their eyes, they’re figuring out how to survive. We have to teach our youth how to not only exist or survive but how to function as productive contributors to society. So as early as kindergarten, they’re learning to collaborate within their environment.
I see children, not behaviors because these behaviors are often a result of the child’s experience. They lack love at home. They lack being valued at school. Those traumatic experiences result in what many call bad or misbehavior. Kids become angry, and they act out. We see it far too often, but yet we label the child. Their minds are still developing. We slap this label on them instead of pointing the finger at the adult or adults who have failed them, the adults at home who failed to teach them the manners required or the adults at school who failed to educate them instead of throwing in the towel. I see children not behaviors merely because they aren’t bad children; they are just trying in their underdeveloped mind how to survive adverse circumstances the best way they know how.