I am not a trained mental health care provider. I refuse to make any recommendations on how active, boisterous, loud children need to be raised or treated. A child’s developing brain remains a tremendous mystery for academics, physicians and parents alike. No two children are wired the same. However, I can share a few observations about the budding youth that I have the privilege of working with every day. 

Most of the young people I meet are in that awkward, ugly-duckling phase of transitioning from child to young adult. Their actions seem wild and emotions unpredictable. They are either full on, running and shouting and making jokes, or they are withdrawn and moody. The highs and lows cycle in a pattern that screams, “Hey, world! I don’t know who I am or where I am going, but I am here and want to be actively engaged in something, anything really!”

Our children are amazing. They have a light and intensity within that effervesces in their glowing eyes. Their joy and unadulterated excitement is the driving force behind our work. We cannot see into their expanding minds, but our teachers work exceptionally hard to connect and share just a quick peek in their thoughts and ambitions. Our coding experience is unique in that we don’t have an instructor leading, with students following along a set of slides. Our teachers sit down and code with the students, side by side. We open a dialog and draw out interests. Most importantly, we listen rather than coming with the expectation to be listened to.

Interestingly enough, I have never met a child without some sort of a ‘problem’. Parents often preface their first visit with, “This is Johny, he is .…” Sometimes, I hear a clinical diagnosis. Sometimes I see frustration and exasperation. I have always seen love. Parents want what is best for their children and often simply don’t know how to provide it. (I know this because I struggle with my own!) We want to push them and guide them, yet it is so hard to know what is going through their minds. Why do they run around crazy at times? Why do they scream, act out and appear not to hear our most loving (or pleading!) comments?

I firmly believe that every action is rooted in reaction. Again, I am not a therapist, but I see how television and video games hype up my own kids. The music, volume, flashing lights, and pace ramps them up. Their little minds don’t know what to do with all of the input coming in. They get agitated, not even knowing why they are suddenly bouncing of the walls. In many ways, it is like school, so much input, so fast and distractions at the same time, plus rules to keep them in their seats. What I observe is, many times, our children are not engaged in the activity in front of them: they are, at best, distracted. This is, in itself, tremendously frustrating. We coexist in our expectations of each other, yet the children are swept away in waves of hyper-stimulation with no outlet. 

Many times, mother’s have said, our sessions are long- didn’t their son misbehave? No. Are they full of enthusiasm and raw energy? Absolutely. When given the power to create, even the most active student finds that zone where they can’t even hear instruction or distraction. They are engaged. Being 100% on task is exhausting for them. They reach a focussed level of anticipation that is nothing short of amazing. I can only urge our parents to come in a few minutes early and observe their children during instruction through our classroom windows. Our door may be closed, but you need to see your child blossoming with the challenge of creation. There is simply no greater experience than feeling this energy! Have a great week!

Brooke Luetgert

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