Joshua has a lot of odd socks, our washing machine often hides one of the matching set, so he has a bag full of lonely socks waiting for their partners to turn up. So that really came in handy yesterday as he was invited to go to school wearing odd socks. The reason was to mark Anti Bullying Week by celebrating difference in each other; being different is something to celebrate and share, rather than being something to hide and to be potentially bullied about. So I dressed Joshua in one stripey and one plain sock – a gesture that he will have been oblivious about but it meant that we took part and made a stand.
At our Special School I am not aware of a culture of bullying , as everyone there is inevitably different from everyone else and so it will be a different environment to that found at mainstream school, where there is a much greater need to ‘fit in’. Nonetheless, it is a great principle to encourage for life beyond school too, where those with special needs may well encounter some prejudice or bullying as they will be in a less protected environment. I am relieved to say that I was never bullied at school but I know with social media now, it has become more intense for many young people.
Along with the odd socks day, school are encouraging and recognising random, small acts of kindness across the school. I strongly believe that there needs to be more kindness in the world and I like to think that I am a kind person, who encourages Joshua to be the same, as far as he is able. I try to empathise with how others might be feeling and like to surprise them with unexpected treats, such as baking, flowers or silly small gifts. Joshua does not have the capacity to make these gestures but he can, and does, offer his hugs and smiles in an effort to cheer someone up and they often can leave someone feeling better than they did. Kindness does not need to be big gestures, just something small is enough to show someone that you were thinking of them, without an occasion like a birthday. In fact I find, it is often the random timing that intensifies the gesture and makes it feel so much more special.
So I fully support school for encouraging acts of kindness and for celebrating difference in each other too, both are great principles to teach our children and will stand them in good stead for the future.