by Sutton Gold, Temple Sholom

As a songleader at Temple Sholom, we never actually get any time to work with kids individually. We are always in the sanctuary with a big group of kids, so finding ways to connect with them on a personal level can be tough. We are taught to be as engaging as possible with our songleading, whether that means bringing volunteers up for hand motions or having the kids have a loudness contest. No matter how engaging we are, there are always the one or two kids in the back who are staring off into space. TAP has taught me that these are the kids that we can learn the most from.

When everyone else seems to be engaged, instead of asking ourselves “Why aren’t they singing like everyone else?” we need to ask ourselves “What can I change about my session to be more engaging to them?”

Instead of trying to change the child, we need to change our approach to the child. As someone with ADHD, if someone told me “Why can’t you just focus?” I would get reasonably upset. In order to understand how to help someone, you need to be able to understand how they work. Most of the time when kids act out, they are trying to express their needs because they don’t know how else to do it. TAP has taught me to look at children’s actions very differently. Before this program, I would get frustrated when those few boys in the back of the room were talking to each other instead of singing, but now I see it as a challenge to make my session more interesting. TAP has taught me many vital lessons about how to work with kids with all sorts of different needs, and it has also taught me more about myself and how my own brain works. And for that I am forever grateful.