Written by Kylee Jones
I have spent the last two years of my life working as a para educator alongside special needs children and I must say it's been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. One of the hardest too, but please don't let that scare you. If you think about it, it truly is a blessing. Just take a moment and consider how life changing it is when you give your time, love, and patience to a child who just wants to be seen. Every day that they see you puts the biggest smile on their face, because, seeing you brings them joy. These children are some of the funniest, most clever, most genuine people you'll ever have the privilege of knowing. They want to learn, they are so desperate to know everything, understand every fabric of the world around them. They find happiness in the simplest things and want to know, quite literally, everything about it. They're curious and kind, even in their struggles. One moment they are angry and frustrated and the next they're handing their classmate a colored pencil because they needed blue.
To say it's not hard work would be misleading. There's a lot of patience involved. There are days and weeks where it seems like nothing is getting through. It feels at times like I have no idea what I am doing or if I am doing any good at all. It's like the kids can sense it, they watch, they know and see more than you think. These kids idolize you and love that you want to be with them. You become their friend, someone they can rely on. You are the person they can struggle around, they know that even when they are frustrated you will be there the next time they come.
I came back from a personal day off, to a box of chocolates and valentines cards on my desk. They were signed from one of the kids in my class. They wanted to make sure I was seen, that I knew I was valued, even if I didn't feel it or believe it myself. If you lead with compassion and a willingness to help them grow, and grow yourself, then I can promise serving these kids will bring some lifelong memories. It'll change your life, I know it changed mine.