Friday, April 13, 2018

Children have so much to say.
When a child is able to share, the satisfaction on his/her face is so gratifying.
Their story is important.
When we give children the opportunity to share, and reflect back to them their story, they feel heard and acknowledged.
The author/illustrator activity is one opportunity to provide the child with an avenue to express what is on her/his mind.  This week I asked them to draw a memory from Passover break.
When they are done with the picture, I ask them to tell the story. I write the words for them.
The child traces the highlighted words.
Once the story is complete, I read it to the child.
 When the completed stories are read out loud, the pride on the children's faces can be seen in their smiles.
The same is true of helping them explore their feelings.
When we give children the opportunity to share their feelings, they feel heard and acknowledged.
Often times, all they need to get themselves out of a sour mood is to hear their feelings reflected back to them.
They are looking for a responsive listening ear, not necessarily for a solution.
Offering advice is a natural thing for teachers and parents to want to do.
We see them upset; we hear them angry or sad.
We want to ease their sadness and provide them with a fix for their problem.
In some situations, a quiet, simple acknowledgement (oh/mmm/I see) can be all the invitation the child needs to explore their own thoughts and feelings.
Through this exploration they may come up with their own solution.
Ozzie was excited to share another Passover break memory.  He went to the art shelf to get a marker. By the time he came back Aura was sitting in the chair he had expected to be sitting in.
Ozzie got very sad.
Ozzie: I was going to sit there. I want to sit there. I pulled that chair out.
Morah Katie: You may sit here. (I pointed to an empty chair at the table-offering a solution).
Ozzie: NO. I want to sit there.
Morah Katie: (trying the listen/reflect approach) You wanted to sit in this chair. You are feeling frustrated. Or at least you look frustrated to me.
Ozzie: Yeah I am sad.
Morah Katie: You are sad.
Ozzie was just silent.
Ozzie then chose to sit in the empty chair and draw his Passover memory

Colette was upset.
Colette: I don't like that they are playing that game.
Morah Katie: I see that.
Colette: I am upset my friends don't want to play my game. I like my game.
Morah Katie: You really like your game.
Colette sighed.  Rowen came over.
Colette: Let's play.
They created a new game together.
Matan did not enjoy what some of his friends were choosing to do.
Matan: I don't like it when they do that.  I don't think it is funny.
Morah Katie: Have you told them? (solution approach))
Matan: No. 
He walked away looking disgruntled and not at ease.
Matan: I don't like what he is doing to your classroom materials, and when he did it, it broke my Lego creation.
Morah Katie: It sounds like you are frustrated your creation was broken. (listen/reflect)
Matan: Yes. I am sad about it.
Morah Katie:You look sad about it, and annoyed.
Matan: Yes. I'm going to go play now.
Morah Katie: OK.
Listening and reflecting does not apply to all situations. But sometimes just giving the child the opportunity too say what in on his/her mind can be enough.
And what may sound like a "I'm not getting my way" may simply be a wish in disguise.
In both cases, once theses feelings and thoughts are expressed these situations can help a child shake off a sour mood and start having a better day.

Helping kids feel good will help them make good choices.
We can help them feel good when we accept and acknowledge their feelings.

I would like to recommend the book I am currently reading for my own growth as a parent, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.  
As I read it, I see the similarities to what we do at The Gan. 
I purposely paid close attention to particular aspects this week in the classroom.   
I hope you will find this book recommendation useful.  
I know I do as a mom and teacher. 

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