Acceptance - March

ACCEPTANCE: March’s Key to Success
March, 2018

Dear students of Mill Pond School,

It’s a new month and that means it’s time for a new key value. It’s got a lot to do with the special week we’re celebrating at Mill Pond this week: Celebrating Our Special Qualities and Embracing Our Differences Week. This key value is a word that means recognizing the uniqueness and value of each individual and embracing the differences in our diverse society (or school). Can you guess it? The word is acceptance!

Before I say more about acceptance, did you notice that the phrase “embracing our differences” from the Mill Pond Touchstone is right in that definition of acceptance? It’s one of my favorite parts of the touchstone that students wrote years ago. They could have just written that we “value” our differences, or that we “appreciate” or “enjoy” our differences. Instead they used the word “embrace”. To me that means we’re happy that we’re all so different...and that we want to be around people that are different from each of us.

Back to acceptance...why is it so important? Think about these four great reasons to be more accepting of people different from you:

1.  The more accepting you are, the more open you are to learning about other people.  Have you ever had an idea about a person before you knew them at all, then found out you were wrong once you got to know them? I think we’ve all done that. What if you hadn’t gotten to know them? You may not have some of the friends you have today.

2. The more you learn, the less you fear.  Remember when you were sure there were monsters under your bed? Or how afraid you were the first time you went swimming and put your face in the water? Then you looked under the bed or dunked your face in the water a few more times and suddenly you weren’t afraid anymore. Appreciating people’s differences works the same way. As you practice acceptance and become more comfortable with other people’s differences, curiosity replaces fear. Your mind opens. You want to know more about other people’s opinions, behaviors, and beliefs (even types of food!) It’s easy to hate a stereotype but it’s hard to hate a friend.

3.  The less you fear, the more comfortable you feel around all kinds of people.  Wouldn’t you like to feel safer and more secure anytime, anywhere? I know I would. Studies have shown that people who get along with different kinds of people are emotionally and physically healthier – and more successful in their careers – than those who don’t.

4.  The more people you know (especially different kinds of people), the more interesting your life becomes.  What if you were allowed to read books by only one author? What if you had to wear blue jeans, a white t-shirt, and black sneakers every day? What if you were never permitted to try anything new, not even a new food or computer game (yikes)? What if all of your friends looked, thought, and behaved exactly alike? What if they all had to be the same age, religion, gender, and race? That sounds very uninteresting to me.


So how can you be more accepting of others? Here are some tips:

  • Be willing to meet new people.
  • Be willing to listen and learn. Ask people to tell you about their backgrounds, beliefs and traditions. Sometimes this can challenge your own ways of thinking and make you reexamine your own ideas. It can also open the door to new friendships and experiences.
  • As you’re learning about differences, also look for similarities. You probably have more in common than you know.

To many of you 5th graders studying social wellness, these ideas probably sound very familiar.

I know that sometimes at your age being different from everybody else might seem like a bad thing.  Your fellow students don’t always know what to think of people who are different. You may hear people say, “I want to be normal”. I understand why people say that but in my opinion the word normal also sounds pretty boring. Why be normal when you can be unique...or interesting….or rare? Those sound a lot better to me than “normal”.

Here’s an idea about being different that I’m sure your teachers would agree with - the traits that make you different will be valuable traits later in your life.  Each of you has unique skills and ideas that will be very useful someday. The challenges your future family or coworkers face will require individuals with all different talents. What makes you different now is what will make you a valuable team member in the future. Be proud and think of your differences as strengths. They are!!

Before I’m done, you should know that for the 9th straight year at Mill Pond, we’re going to have some March Madness again. No, it’s not about college basketball. It’s about showing some spirit and having some fun during what can be a long month of March. Each Friday in March, there will be a spirit day for students AND teachers to enjoy. You’ll notice more than one that will give you a chance to show how uniquely different you are. Here’s the schedule:

Friday, March 2nd - Have a Heart Day (part of Celebrating Our Special Qualities and Embracing Our Differences Week)

Friday, March 9th - Emoji Day (make your own emoji to wear on your shirt)

Friday, March 16th - Unique Day (wear a shirt that you know no one else at Mill Pond will wear)

Friday, March 23rd - Crazy Hair/Hat Day

Thursday, March 29 - Red Sox Day (it’s the day of their first game...there’s no school on Friday the 30th)

On all the other days in March, just teachers will be dressing according to a theme. The trick is that we’re not going to tell you what the theme is each day; you have to try and figure it out by looking at Mill Pond staff members!

Enjoy the madness and have a great March!

Mr. Slomski