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As I rummaged through Colton’s backpack yesterday, I stumbled across a note, asking for my input in regard to assigning his third-grade teacher.  Instructions were pretty basic – check all boxes that apply.

It sounded simple enough, until I read the phrases:

Works well without instruction. Needs supervision to finish assignments. Flourishes in structured class. Works independently. Adapts to Change. Doesn’t like change. Prefers a more flexible environment.

You get the point. I, however, didn’t. Enter my problems with this “questionnaire.”

First, I do not observe my child in the classroom. I am not a teacher for a multitude of very good reasons. I know how he is at home – one on one. Based on that, I would have checked every box – because each box could apply on any given day.

It’s just like the weather in Kentucky. If you don’t like it, wait a day. It will change.

Which brings us to my other issue with this survey of sorts. They are essentially asking me to label my child. To stick him in a specific mold within which he can be squished and manipulated as need be.

By checking desires flexibility and needs structure, for example, he could be labeled unruly or hyper. Next step? ADHD.

By checking works well independently, he could be labeled a shy, backward introvert. Next step? Psychological evaluation.

Think back to your school days. There was always a bully, there were kids who struggled with reading and excelled in math, others who claimed the title of class clown or nerd. Kids label themselves without any help from their educators. And unfortunately, those labels tend to stick, whether or not they are accurate.

Each child learns and acts/reacts differently than the next. Because no two children are alike. That’s the beauty of the individual. Sure, teachers have various ways of teaching, according to the learning patterns of students, just as parents interact differently with each of their children. There is no “set way” that can be applied to every child, all the time.

Unless of course you slap a label on them. Stick them in the ol’ mold and decide for them what they are to become. Which makes me wonder who all this labeling really benefits. How easy I suppose it would be to label and mold kids into a certain group. Because kids are quite adaptable.

They wouldn’t notice the loss of individuality – at least not right away. Maybe they wouldn’t notice until they reached adulthood. But one day, they’d notice.

Labeling, classifying our kids seems very dangerous. When they find themselves within a certain group, they begin to believe they truly are members of the group – and that their abilities or opportunities are limited to those of the group.

I guess it should come as no surprise that I checked every box. Because each one applies at one time or another. And I am not about to label him as being one way or another. I’m more than content with letting him just be Colton.


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