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What’s in a Color?

What's in a Color?

Griffin started Kindergarten a few weeks ago and he’s been pretty excited.  He asks for homework and he loves learning which makes me a very happy mommy.  One thing that I don’t quite understand is this color system they are using though.  While I get the fact that kids need to learn how to listen and should be held accountable for not listening, I don’t get these categories that they get placed in.  It almost seems like they are being labeled.  At least, I think Griffin is, and I’m less than thrilled.  The way it works is that the kids can earn tokens throughout the day for their good behavior.  I like that but they are also put into a color category based on their behavior throughout the day.  They earn a Blue or Green if they have no incidents, Yellow (Lellow according to Griffin) if they have one incident of not listening, and Orange and Red are the really “bad” colors.  If you earn a Yellow you sit in time out in the classroom and draw about what you can do to improve.  If you earn an Orange or Red, you have to go to time out in another classroom or even go to the dreaded Principal.

Now, I don’t mind the colors at all but it’s the way that this tool is being used that is making us unhappy.  For instance, if Griffin has one incident where he is warned and still chooses not to listen he is put into the Yellow category.  I’m fine with that but I think that they should then be able to earn moving back up to a Blue or Green by improving their behavior.  This then sets the tone for the rest of the day and my son comes home with a “Lellow” and thinks he has had a bad day overall.  On a given day with my son if he gets through the day with only one or two incidents of not listening I do not categorize this as a bad or Lellow day.  In fact, I think it’s a great day if he only slips up once or twice.

Of course, being the perfectionist that I am, I was a little freaked out that my son was getting mostly Yellows for the first few weeks of class, and I’m sure that he noticed my anxiety, but after about a week, his dad and I took a different approach.  Griffin was coming home saying things like, “I had a bad day” as a result of being Yellow so I confirmed with the teacher that being in Yellow meant that he only slipped up once in a day and that the rest of the day he was on task.  Once I did this, we decided to ignore the colors.

When Griffin gets in the car after school the first thing I want to hear now is all of the GOOD things that happened that day.  When he tries to tell me about his “Lellow” I tell him we can talk about that later and try to help him see all of the good that came out of the day.  If he got Yellow for not listening at lunch for instance, I help him remember that he listened in class and how great that is.  If he got a Yellow for talking during rest time, we focus on how he listened well at lunch and during class time.  What this has reminded me of is that we can’t always focus on the “Lellows” in life.  We can learn from our “Lellows” and move on, but let’s not allow the categories that people place us in bring us down.   I don’t allow my mistakes to define me so why should I let a color define my child?

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