December Virtue: Generosity
“I’m happy to give or share what I have with others.”
Generosity: Generosity is demonstrated in a willingness to give more than what is expected with a cheerful heart.
Generosity in the Classroom includes:
- Waiting patiently for others to put their food on their plate before grabbing it myself.
- Drawing or coloring a picture for my family or my teacher.
- Taking turns on the playground so that everyone can have an opportunity to play.
- Sharing my smile with friends who might feel sad.
- Do something challenging every day.
- Have a cheerful attitude even when things are hard.
- Continue trying new ways and not give up.
Practical Application: 3 Tips for Encouraging Generosity
- Children can, and should, learn that they have the capacity to make a difference and change the world right now. Whether it is holding the door for someone, giving a gift or sharing their smile, it’s our job as the adults around them to inspire and encourage their generous spirits to blossom.
- Making cookies, cards or gifts for your neighbors or helping to shovel the sidewalk reinforces the generosity principle.
- Children have great memories. Talk about the experience being generous right afterwards, but also bring it up periodically in the weeks that follow. This can also create great opportunities for future acts of generosity. They learn best by watching what we do!
“I am a truth-teller!”
Honesty: Honesty is when you speak the truth and act truthfully.
Honesty in the Classroom includes:
- Honesty means you say things that are true.
- Honesty means you admit when you have made a mistake.
- Honesty means that you tell how things really happen.
- Follow the rules even if nobody is watching
- Tell what really happened when someone asks me
- Not take what isn’t mine
Practical Application: 3 Tips for Encouraging Honesty
- Keep calm. If your kids worry about being yelled at or punished when they mess up, they won’t want to come to you with the truth. Focus on using a calm voice – yes, it can be tough, but it’s possible. That doesn’t mean kids are off the hook for lying. But instead of getting angry and assigning blame, discuss solutions to the problem with your child.
- Emphasize ways to solve the problem. If you know your child has tracked mud into the house ask him, “What can we do to clean this up and make sure it doesn’t happen next time?” instead of asking “How did all this mud get on the carpet?” This can help head off a power struggle and allows your child to focus on a plan of action instead of fabricating an excuse. It also teaches a lesson of what they can do next time –taking off their shoes in the mudroom instead of the living room – to avoid problems.
- Celebrate honesty.Even if you’re upset that there’s a sea of water on the floor because your daughter tried to give her dolls a bath in the sink, commend her for coming to you and telling the truth. Tell her, “I really appreciate you telling me what really happened. I really appreciate you telling the truth and taking responsibility.”
Working Together. Helping Each Other.
Teamwork: Working together as a group to achieve a common goal.
Teamwork in the Classroom includes:
- Taking turns and waiting patiently
- Listening to each others’ ideas
- Working together to make a job easier
- Making sure that nobody is left out
- Encouraging everyone to do their best
- Helping out cheerfully
- Offer to help others
- Make sure that everyone has a turn
- Cheerfully do something even if it isn’t my idea
- Say “Please” and “Thank You” when I need help
- Find ways to play together
- Work together to solve problems
Practical Application: 3 Tips for Encouraging Teamwork
- Involve children in common tasks and let them know how their job is important to the final goal. (“We need to be a team at the grocery store. Will you please remember milk? We won’t be able to have cereal if we don’t have milk.”)
- Turn household tasks into a game and suggest that you work as a team. (“Let’s see how quickly we can put clothes in the dryer if we work together. Wow! When you helped me, we finished so much faster than when I do it alone!”)
- When you are in the community, talk about how thankful you are that everyone works together to make Sheridan a nice place to live.
March Virtue: Self Control
“I will do the right thing”
Self Control: a friendly feeling or attitude: kindness or help given to someone
Self Control in the Classroom includes:
- Telling my teacher I want to go to the comfort cave* when I am sad.
- Being gentle with my hands, my feet, and my words.
- Using bubble lips when I am in the hallway.
- Use my words to tell others how I feel.
- Ask a teacher if I need help solving a problem.
- Use listening ears when other people are talking to me.
Practical Application: 3 Tips for Encouraging Self Control
- Play games with your child. Taking turns and following rules are good opportunities to practice self control. Active games like Red Light/Green Light, Freeze Tag and Follow the Leader give children practice being intentional about calming their bodies.
- Help children understand how long they will have to wait for something and suggest activities to do while they wait. Say to your child, “Grandma and Grandpa are coming over before dinner. Would you like to draw some pictures to give them?” or “As soon as I put your sister to bed, I will read you some stories. You can choose three books for us to read together.”
- Do activities together that require following directions. For example, put together a model, play follow the leader, or cook or bake: “I’m going to read the recipe aloud. Listen carefully so we will both know what to do. I’ll read them again as we do each step.”
*Our comfort cave has items like headphones, pillows, stuffed animals to hug, and pictures of feelings
Friendship: a friendly feeling or attitude: kindness or help given to someone
Friendship in the Classroom includes:
- Taking turns choosing what to play.
- Inviting others to play with you.
- Listening to others and working together to solve problems.
- Offer to help my friends if I see they are sad.
- Greet others with their name and a smile.
- Use gentle hands and words when I talk to my friends.
Practical Application: 3 Tips for Encouraging Friendship
- Talk to your children about characteristics that you see in them that would make them a good friend to others. Point out specific times that you see them being kind to others.
- Ask your children about who they enjoy playing with at First Light. Ask what they like to do when they play together. Help them to learn the names of their classmates and teachers.
- Children need to see that you value friendship as well. If you need to make a call to a friend, use the word “friend”. Talk about what makes that person a good friend to you and ways that you are a good friend to others.
Joyfulness: Maintaining a good attitude, even when faced with unpleasant conditions
Joyfulness in the classroom includes:
- Remaining positive even when things are not going according to plan
- Smiling and speaking kindly to other students and family members even when they forget to do what was asked of them
- Finding ways to solve problems positively
- Cheerfully encouraging one another instead of blaming
- Greeting each other each morning with a cheerful smile
- Keeping the classroom bright with uplifting music
- Look for good in all things
- Smile at adversity
- Not give in to discouragement
- Not allow my emotions to rule my mind
- Take time out of every day to laugh and to sing
Rewards of joyfulness
- There is a special strength that emanates from a joyful person. This not only benefits that person’s own life but also causes him or her to be an energy-giver to all those around
- Medical research has confirmed that a joyful smile actually strengthens the immune system, which fights against disease in the body
Newborn otters are afraid of water. The otter parents must gradually acquaint their young with the water by leading them near it, splashing in it, and eventually carrying them into a stream or lake. Soon the young otters discover that the experience they dreaded has become their greatest source of joy and provision.
How can you model joyfulness to the students this month? To the parents and families? To other staff?
What goals can you set for yourself? How will students see you modeling joyfulness at First Light?
What can you connect joyfulness to that is memorable for your students? How can you define and explain joyfulness so that it will make a lasting impression on your students?
High-Quality Prekindergarten is a Wise Investment- Early education helps prepare children to succeed in school and in life. Numerous studies show that children enrolled in high-quality early education programs go on to perform better on cognitive tests in elementary and secondary school, are more likely to graduate from high school, go to college, be employed, and be in good health, and are less likely to become involved with crime or turn to welfare. Yet, many children—particularly the low-income children who stand to benefit the most—lack access to early education. Some support for prekindergarten is provided through federal and state programs, but these programs fall short of meeting the need. http://www.nwlc.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/prekfactsheet.pdf ; http://www.nwlc.org/resource/high-quality-prekindergarten-wise-investment
Learning to Resolve Conflicts through Problem Solving
Helping children manage frustrations and resolve social conflicts is an area of social learning that is often particularly important to teachers. Teachers find that HighScope’s six-step conflict resolution process is especially useful. The six steps summarized below are used to help children settle disputes and conflicts. Children can often carry out this sequence on their own by program’s end.
Conflict resolution steps
- Approach calmly, stopping any hurtful actions. Place yourself between the children, on their level; use a calm voice and gentle touch; remain neutral rather than take sides.
- Acknowledge children’s feelings. Say something simple such as “You look really upset;” let children know you need to hold any object in question.
- Gather information. Ask “What’s the problem?” Do not ask “why” questions as young children focus on that what the problem is rather than understanding the reasons behind it.
- Restate the problem: “So the problem is…” Use and extend the children’s vocabulary, substituting neutral words for hurtful or judgmental ones (such as “stupid”) if needed.
- Ask for solutions and choose one together. Ask “What can we do to solve this problem?” Encourage children to think of a solution but offer options if the children are unable to at first.
- Be prepared to give follow-up support. Acknowledge children’s accomplishments, e.g., “You solved the problem!” Stay nearby in case anyone is not happy with the solution and the process needs repeating.
In today’s hectic, complicated world, many families find themselves without a “road map” for helping their kids avoid getting lost.
Might it be wise to sit down as a family and create a type of family mission statement… a set of core values that serves as a road map for behavior?
One parent described her approach:
We talked as a family about what types of values we feel proud to live by. Then we posted them on our refrigerator.
Our family believes in…
– Treating others the way we want to be treated
– Doing our best even when something is hard or boring
– Being healthy and safe
Our three year old needed a lot of help with these, but the older kids caught on quickly. We made sure to admit that we, as parents, would be held accountable for living by these values too!
This is a great tool for teaching self-discipline and problem-solving. Now we just say to our kids, “Feel free to do what you would like as long as it fits our family’s values.”
Does your family have a mission statement? If so, share it with us below! If not, I challenge you to sit down with your family this week and begin the process.
This post was adapted from Love and Logic Insider’s Edition with Dr. Charles Fay.