SEL Alert: Our New Contest!
We're kicking off a new contest for Storyworks Jr. in our October/November 2017 issue. It's called One of a KIND and it promotes empathy, asking students to write about a time that they were an especially a good friend, or needed one. Who better to tell you more about it than our friend Meg Zucker, who runs an SEL-themed Scholastic contest for 4th-graders nationwide, who herself has physical differences and who is the mom of two sons with physical differences, and a daughter with an "invisible difference"—food allergies? (That's Meg and her family below.) We hope you'll encourage your students to enter. Deadline: December 15!
When I first began to pilot my organization's now-national "Kids Flaunt" essay contest that promotes inclusion and empathy, I noticed that kids who had a physical difference couldn't wait to share their own story. To them, being different was simply their own version of normal. And at the same time, children who had an invisible difference (such as dyslexia or ADHD) were also proud to share a trait that had always been a source of shame. But the most enlightening reaction came from the students who didn't fit into either group. They'd proclaim, "But I'm not different!" Many students were trying hard to fit in, when they simply needed to learn a critical lesson: We are all different, and that is perfectly okay. Unconditional self-acceptance is the key to confidence and learning how to be caring toward others. I know this well.
That's why I'm so excited about Storyworks Jr.'s brand-new One of a KIND contest. It offers a new opportunity for young students to share their own story about fitting in, and the importance of being a good friend. To spark your students' creativity, you might have a class discussion about this first, and/or pair students up so that they can brainstorm what they might write about. The timing is pretty perfect, as you're establishing your own classroom community. Five winners will get a wonderful book, Super Lexi by Emma Lesko, about an irreverent girl with a very particular way about her. And winning entries may be featured online, too. Please make sure to prioritize the One of a KIND contest, and have your students participate! (Use this entry form, shown below, to make the process easier.) I can promise you it will be time well spent. And most importantly, your efforts will reveal that when a child is kind to a peer and given the chance to share what he or she has learned, the rewards flow in every direction.