Office for Learning Emergencies

 I picked up the book, Whole Child, Whole Parent by Polly Berrien Berends yesterday while looking for something else.    There was a marker sticking out from some time ago, I suppose.  So I opened it and sat down to see what I had saved.

It’s a long passage so I’ll paraphase some of it, as I immediately knew it was something I wanted to share.

Berends says if she were king of the schools, she’d set up an office , next to the nurse’s office, called the Office for Learning Emergencies.  She’d advise teachers to be on the lookout for passion fits or enthusiastic seizures whenever interest rose like a fever in a child and have them sent to this office.

If a child was very interested in dinosaurs, talking about them, drawing them, choosing books on them, she would consider this child a bit flushed and in need of immediate attention.   Or perhaps a child who requested every Shel Silverstein Poetry book over and over again, would be recognized as someone in need of further evaluation.

My favorite part, though,  “ and unlike the nurse whose concern would be to see the temperature go down, the resource person in the Office of Learning Emergency would be concerned to gently huff on the glowing coal of her passion and hope to see it break into a self-sustaining flame.”

Berends says, ” small passions would be recognized as precious and critical opportunities for enhancing the child’s sense of worthiness and possibility”.

So there.  I love it. No wonder I marked it.   And I’d love to suggest that any of us can recognize what it is in our own child that is unique, the “particularness” of this child. 

It may be especially helpful at this holiday time when considerations are being made as to just what gifts to give to a child.  Pay special attention to what it is that draws a child to be unself-consciously involved – to appear in the flow – to be “flushed” with excitement.  What is it that strengthens their growing sense of who they are and how can our gift extend and value this interest.

This is more challenging with multiple children but perhaps even more significant – to have an individual interest recognized.

Did one child in particular love the hiking trip when you collected rocks?  Did another have to be torn away from observing the sharks at the aquarium?  There’s trains, trucks, art, nature, swimming, making up stories, jumping and climbing, stars, knights, castles – all waiting to be evolved.

Try and notice or recall – and you might find the exact gift for that child will appear.  If you need any suggestions as to how to extend your child’s interest with the right gift or experience,  give me a call.  I would be glad to help figure out what that might be.

Now what was I looking for in the first place?

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