"The adults observing the children look over at me with worried looks. I instruct them to observe but stay close and hidden among the trees. Secretly, I’m wondering if we should intervene now, but something tells me to wait."
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” - A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
For many years, we have been reading research on the connections between the practice of gratitude and happiness, health, improvements in personal or professional relationships. Though the definition of gratitude varies, most studies confirm that there is much to be gained by recognizing, reflecting on, and articulating experiences or things that are valuable and meaningful to us. In Praise of Gratitude, published several years ago around the Thanksgiving season in America, lists some easy "Ways for Cultivating Gratitude"from thanking someone mentally to keeping a gratitude journal.
In "Is it Rude, Is it Mean, or Is it Bullying", Signe Whitson, L.S.W., author of Passive Aggressive Diaries, through some real life examples, helps us differentiate between types of negative social behaviors. Teaching politeness or kindness is very different from restoring an imbalance of power. Having a keen understand of the difference between rudeness, meanness, and bullying will help us better support our children in their social experiences. Children need us to respond appropriately as caring adults at school and at home. Under- or over-reacting both have negative consequences. It is important that we validate their experiences while helping them developing strategies such as speaking up, being considerate, reading social situations correctly, or getting help when they need it.
Now that the sand toys are dried and back in storage, and we are a couple of weeks into our back-to-school routines, many families are settling back into the wonderful habit of reading to and reading with our children. There are few things more precious than this stage of parenting. The dishes can wait. The emails can wait. The opportunity to spend this kind of quality and bonding time with our children will come and go very quickly. So leave the phones, the iPads, and the computers beyond our reach and beyond our earshot. Let's pick up a book or two and snuggle on the couch to read for a while.
Do make this a low stress and enjoyable time. Read to the children, or buddy read every other page, or listen to them read. Take a minute and talk about the characters. Imagine what it is like to be that character and how (s)he is feeling in that situation. Such activities help our children develop the capacity to think about other people, their experiences, and help them grow empathy, a key component of emotional intelligence.
Also, the positive emotional experience of reading together is also good for us.
Those 180+ days are 24/7 about these little people whom we love: the students, their families, and their lives are constantly on our minds and in our hearts. There is nothing like teaching (or school counseling in my case). It is so deeply meaningful and we love it very much!
It can also be all consuming. So....fellow educators, please take the summer and take good care of yourselves. Here is a wonderful article with some inspiring thoughts~ See you all in two months!
This Stage of Life? It’s Hard. by Hayley Hengst on April 20, 2016
[excerpt] This stage of life. It’s hard, you guys.
I’m talking right now to you moms who are in your early to mid 30’s. You have kids. Likely two, three, maybe four of them. They probably range in age from newborns to 7 or 8 year-olds. (Give or take a few, on all of the above mentioned stats).
In this stage of life, you are dealing with exhaustion. Mental, physical, and emotional.
Posted on January 9, 2016 by Katherine By Katherine Handcock, A Mighty Girl Communications Specialist
It doesn't take long living or working with girls to realize that body image can be a big problem — and that it can start sooner than you expect. Studies have shown that over 40% of 1st to 3rd grade girls want to be thinner and that girls' self-esteem peaks at the age of 9. Parents and educators often want to help the Mighty Girls in their lives develop a positive body image, but aren't sure where to start.
Fortunately, there are a number of great books that show girls that every body is worth celebrating! From empowering picture books to thought-provoking middle grade and young adult books, these books provide a great starting point to discussions about self-esteem, body image, and self-confidence. We've also included a few books specifically for parents and educators, so that you can help teach girls that they are perfect just the way they are.
Beyond the titles recommended below, you can discover more books for children and teens that address body image issues in our Body Image book section and more resources for parents and educators in our Body Image & Self-Esteem Parenting section.
Each year, our guidance counseling intern from the Harvard School of Graduation is charged with creating something useful for our school community. This year, Ms. Lauren McDermott surveyed our families and staff about potential topics and "Building Lasting Connections with Our Children" was an overwhelming top topic choice. Below please find the link to her rich and resourceful presentation:
Yesterday we learned about "Sportsmanship: Lessons for Life" from Collier Winters, graduate and former Quarterback of Harvard University1. Integrity is Better than Winning2. True Leaders Make Everyone Better
Posted by Veronica Knight on Friday, March 25, 2016
The other day, I was in a group conversation...and I got a little lost. It happens to the best of us, but we were talking about Social & Emotional Learning (SEL), supposedly where I live in my head, so it was a little embarrassing! That feeling would not subside until I took the time to look up the answer. Then it dawned on me that skilled teachers know how to create that zone of discomfort where a problem is floating around and demanded some attention. I am pretty sure I will not easily forget the answer to this particular question. When our school move onto our next core value of perseverance, this experience may help our students appreciate the value of being in this prime-to-learn zone.
Quoting Ms. Qualters: "got it wrong, got it wrong, got it better, got it better, got it right"
Please pardon a little of the language, the message is golden. I love technology but also believe in putting the phone down when in the company of treasured people, especially the children - yours or mine!
1:50 We are surrounded by children who since they were born watch us living like robots, and think it's the norm It's not very likely you will make world's greatest dad, if you can't entertain a child without using an iPad.
Growing up in Cantonese speaking Hong Kong with a first name (Veronica) that neither teachers nor friends could pronounce correctly was somewhat disconcerting ("v"s and "r"s are challenging for Cantonese speakers). Yet I loved my name because of the reasons my parents selected it. (I was named after the 6th Station of the Cross). As the name is rarely used, I grew to treasure meeting other Veronicas in my life.
My surname (maiden name) turned out to be equally hard to pronounce by my English speaking friends as I entered boarding school in England and later University in America. Apparently so was the rest of my Chinese name when translated into English. I never realized the endless possibilities of how my name could be mispronounced! 邵保鋈 Yet I love the heritage embedded in the name: how the first word designates my family line, the second word designates my generation, and the last word was selected based on the hour of my birth and which elements I subsequently lacked in life (water and gold!). There was a great deal of thought that went into the naming process and I love the way it connects me to my roots.
Sumant Bhat, in "The Importance of Our Stories" talked about the value in providing teachers and students the opportunities to tell their stories, starting with their names.
I’ve seen firsthand how hearing stories from one another can help build previously unseen connections between individuals from different social circles. These stories often reveal what is beneath the surface for those around us, illuminating a depth of character and life experience that we could not possibly know otherwise. In doing so, they cultivate empathy by providing windows into experiences different from one’s own.
I love the idea of providing windows into one another's experiences. Well, may be with the exception of a dear friend, who was the last of six children, and whose parents were slightly distracted at the hospital after her birth. They submitted her birth certificate form as "Baby Smith" with every intention of fixing it later. Imagine her surprise, when she saw her birth certificate for the first time...
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is a large scale investigation regarding the impact of cumulative negative experiences on the health and well-being of children. The findings can be used to inform our educational and counseling practices. Below are links to two quick reads which provide some useful insights into children who have experienced trauma, and also practices which we can integrate into our teaching and counseling that can help support their healing and learning.