No, that’s not a gratuitous “Starsky and Hutch” reference. (Although I am guilty of gratuitous pop culture references on occasion.) It’s a reference to elementary school students. One of the things I adore about that age group is that they are so affectionate. Last school year, when I had a three-month assignment in the same school, I got lots of hugs, to the point where I missed them when I didn’t get them. This year, even on the one-day assignments, I still get kids who come up to me and want to hug me.
Some things I’ve learned:
- Check to make sure the school doesn’t have a no-physical-contact policy. It angers me that sick <insert expletives I don’t want to use on a family blog> who abuse kids have made it harder for kids to give affection to and receive affection from adults with whom they may spend as much time as they do with their parents.
- Bend down to their level as much as you can. I’m almost 6 feet tall, and elementary school kids tend to end up about chest-level on me. Since I’m also rather busty, that has potential for awkwardness.
- Don’t underestimate the power of other physical contact. A handshake, high-five, or pat on the shoulder or head also lets a kid know you care.
- Don’t neglect verbal praise, too. Don’t fear creating a “special little snowflake.” Most of the time, that doesn’t happen. Kids thrive on positive reinforcement.