Here’s my deal:
I want kids to be kids. I want them to express themselves how they want to. I want them to do things that make them feel comfortable, and I want them to feel like they can wear what they want, do something how they would like to, and be able to express their wants and needs in multiple ways.
All appropriately, of course.
And before you jump down my throat, this doesn’t apply to everything.
I dabble in flexible seating.
I have tried a “new trend” of not raising hands, but instead, standing up (in place of raising the hand) and reading signals (eye contact, head nods) or recognizing appropriate social cues (pause in conversation, polite conversation initiations).
I allow “fidget tools” such as the fidget cube, putty/playdoh, or a small “squishy” that fits in the palm of their hand- and stays there- and is only used to foster comfort, confidence, and focus during learning times (they know that the first time I see them “playing” or that their “tool” becomes a “toy”, I ask them to put it away for the rest of the day).
But none of those are what I really have issues with, because, well, they’re done within the walls of my classroom, they work for me and for my students, and no one else really knows (or cares to know) about it.
What I’m talking about here, are hats in school.
It started with one girl; when the season changed to fall and it got chilly, she wore a beanie to school and asked if she could wear it throughout the day. I said as long as it wasn’t a distraction to her or for others, she could continue to wear it.
Since that day, I have about 2 or 3 girls who will regularly wear a beanie with their outfit. I have one girl who loves her Pikachu hat, and says it brings her comfort and happiness when she wears it.
These kids never play with their hat. They never touch it, they don’t continuously take it on/off, no one else plays with it- in fact, the only people who ever have commented on them wearing it, have been adults.
I told the kids, that if they wear their hat, it is only to be worn in the classroom. Honestly- I don’t even notice these things anymore, so if we walk to a special or to the lunch room, I trust that they have taken it off. Occasionally, they forget, because they’re children (read: humans) and all they need is a quiet reminder to take it off and they will shyly smile, apologize, and take it off. They are never rude or disrespectful.
It was brought to my attention the other day that my allowing of hats has [caused a problem] in our school and has [crossed a school rule] line and that, with my allowing of this [behavior] to happen, it shows other kids that they can also [break the rules].
I reassured that it should only be done in my classroom, that I would be more vigilant, and that if the student were to ever be disrespectful, they would lose the opportunity.
But then I was told that wasn’t fair, either.
Sometimes, you can’t win, huh?
Please don’t criticize me. Instead, if you think what I’m doing is “wrong”, give me your point of view- why you feel it isn’t appropriate and what you feel I can do instead to still foster that “independent, individual, comfortable” feeling.