Respecting Differences: Is it Easy? Is it Hard?

Respecting Differences: Is it easy or is it hard?During my first year in the classroom as an assistant, I was fortunate to be able to work with a gifted kindergarten teacher, who knew the importance of creating a safe and supportive classroom community (thanks Debbie!). One of the “beginning-of-the-year” lessons, which helped to set the tone, was inspired by the (out of print) book, Is it Hard? Is it Easy? by Mary McBurney Green.

It is a story about a group of friends that have different things they are good at and things that are harder for them to do. What I love most about this book and the discussion that follows, is that it helps children to realize there are things that will come easy to them and that we all (even grown-ups) have things that take more practice. It also helps convey the message that it is alright, even good, to have things that we need to work on. In the classroom, I observed that this lesson created a culture where children respected each other for their strengths and supported each other in the areas that needed strengthening.

Because I felt this lesson was so valuable, I have kept a photo copied version of, Is it Hard? Is it Easy? over the years. Recently, we decided to read the story as a family and make individual charts of the things that are easy and hard for us. It was an enlightening family activity that allowed all of us to feel safe enough to discuss the personal things in our lives that we would like to work on, as well as give each other and ourselves put-ups for the things we are good at. We all gained new insight into each other…

Because Is it Hard? Is it Easy? is out of print and not readily available, the girls thought it would be fun to find a way to share it with you



With over 10 years of EDU experience and a growing family, Mariah started Playful Learning in 2008 as a resource for parents and teachers. In 2010 Playful Learning received the Parent’s Choice Gold Medal, and in August of 2011, Shambhala Publications released her first book, Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder. Mariah has an M.S. Ed in Elementary Education and was that girl sitting in the back of class thinking about what she would do differently if she was the teacher. Now she is happily working with a team of gifted educators to bring life-changing lessons to children, families, and schools around the world. In her free time she can be found taking long walks, enjoying a cup of tea, or swimming in the Atlantic with her husband and two daughters.



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  1. Thank you for sharing.  I will definitely plan on incorporating this lesson into my first weeks of school.  Thanks!

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