Often when children do thing that upset another child adults force them to say I’m sorry. But, if you only tell the child “say I’m sorry” and that is it, are they really sorry? Do they understand what they are sorry for? Why do I have to say I’m sorry, I really wanted that toy. I didn’t mean to knock them down, why should I apologize? By forcing a child to just say I’m sorry, they aren’t learning what it means to apologize, and more important they aren’t fixing the problem.
Here is a simple extension to the I’m sorry that will assist the child in seeing what was wrong AND how to fix the problem.
I’m sorry that I ___________. What can I do to make you feel better? examples– I’m sorry that I knocked down your blocks. What can I do to make you feel better? The last part of this allows the child who was “offended/hurt/upset” to decide what they need… in this example they may want the child to help them rebuild the blocks. We want to validate the feelings of the child who as upset. Simple things like getting a tissue for a child who is crying, getting a band aid or even just a high five and smooth over emotions.
That is the simplest form and where to start the process. This is how I teach children who are young (3/4), who struggle to communicate, and those who are dealing with big emotions at the time.
To go beyond this. I’m sorry that I _________. Next time I will _______. What can I do to make you feel better? example– I’m sorry that I knocked you down. Next time I will watch where I’m running. What can I do to make you feel better?
The goal is for children to recognize what they did, how they can change it and what they can do now to fix the situation. I’m sorry is not enough to do this.
One last thing… children should not be taught to say “It’s ok” when they are “wronged”. It is not ok to be knocked down. It is not ok for someone to upset you. The child can accept the apology. The child can say. Thank you for apologizing, please be more careful next time. Thank you for apologizing can we work together to fix this? By saying it is ok then you are telling the other child they can do it again.
As your child prepares for the new school year, it is a time to talk about friendships. Many children need reassurance that they will have friends in school. Often we tell them that they will know the children in their class, but that isn’t always true. There will be times they do not know anyone or only someone they didn’t really see as a friend before.
Prepare your child to meet new friends. We need to remind children that even if they have old friends in the class, it is a time to meet new friends too. Time to expand their friendship circle.
Remind your child that they need to branch out and meet children who are different than themselves. Helping your child see that the things that make you different are the things that make you special. Show your child the things that make them unique and different.
Today we will listen to the story The Circles All Around Us by Brad Montague. In this story, a young child draws a circle around their shoes, a place for just one. They then realize that there is more to the world than just one. They create a larger circle for their family a caring circle. But, is that enough? No! The child begins to realize that when you let people into your circle you find friends and others who care. You begin to accept not only people who are the same, but also people who are different.
We all need to step back and look at who we let in our circles. Is your circle small or large? Is there enough room for more, or do you need to expand?
As you begin your next journey in school, it is a great opportunity to expand your circle. Let in someone who is different from you, and appreciate the differences. It can be someone who is younger or older. It can be boys and girls. It can be someone who has hair, eyes and skin that looks different than yours. It can be someone who needs extra support to learn and grow. Or someone who just needs another friend.
Who is in your circle? And, how can you help not only expand your circle of caring, but others as well?
Parents… children need this modeled to them. They need to see you being kind to others. They need to see that you accept people who are the same AND those who are different. They hear your words and see your actions. Do you treat the cashier, the wait staff and others with kindness, acceptance and understanding? Do you speak of children of all races, religions, and abilities as people who are capable of loving, growing and learning? Do you appreciate what makes people different? Your child is our future… model for them a way to live in the world with caring and compassion for all…. different is beautiful. Different is special. Different is what makes the world a wonderful place to live!
Today we will continue to learn about families. Today’s story Families, Families Everywhere by Megan E. Mills is read by the author. This story explores what makes families. It compares and contrasts some family dynamics and celebrates these differences.
Today talk about other families you know. How are they the same and different from your own. What can you learn from that family? Do they celebrate different holidays, eat different foods, speak a different language? What is the same between your two families?
Maybe do something special for that family or with that family.
The goal is to have children see, understand and appreciate the differences. We want them to see that even when people/families are different from your own, they are still held together with love. And, when we see and appreciate these differences, we can learn and grow, together… in love.
Sometimes it is hard being good all the time. As adults we recognize the fact that you can’t always be good, you can’t always be perfect. But, often times we expect children to behave all the time. While we recognize that it is ok for them to have fun and be silly, do we tell them this? Do we explain to children that it’s ok to make the wrong choice? That they learn from their mistakes?
Let’s read the story The Good Egg by Jory John and Pete Oswald. This story is about one out of a dozen… eggs. What is it like to feel like you need to be the good egg? Well this egg knows. When one egg feels responsible for the actions for the others in the carton, the stress is too much.
Children need to learn this. They need to learn to take care of themselves. They need to recognize when they need to ask for help and that it is ok. They need to learn how to relax when things are stressful. Today help your child brainstorm a list of things they can do when life gets too hard. Talk about a time when you, their loving adult, just needed to step away and do something to relax yourself.
Ideas for your child to use to relax:
go for a walk with an adult and just be quiet in nature
look at the clouds
take a bath
listen to music
read a book
breathing activities (pretend to smell a flower then blow out a candle)
play with playdough
learn yoga poses
give yourself a hug
Remind your child that they are a good egg. But, that doesn’t mean that they won’t make mistakes. They won’t make the wrong choice from time to time. Making bad choices does not make you a bad person. We learn from our mistakes and grow from them. Take time to talk about this when your child is not having a tough time so that when they are, it isn’t something new to learn on top of dealing with emotions.
When looking for rainbow stories to share I came across The World Made a Rainbow by Michelle Robinson. We are coming up on the one year anniversary of our world shutting down. On March 13, 2020 my world was shaken. That was the last day my sons went to school in the building, the last day my husband went into work, the last day I was teaching in person. It was the first day of major change. One year is a long time in everyone’s life but a really long time in the life of young children. But, we make the best of it. We learn. We grow. We have fun. We can hope that one day really soon life will begin to look a bit more like normal. We can search for the rainbow of hope and know that it is coming….
While in the science of rainbows we learn that the colors in light are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, there are so many other beautiful colors in our world. They are the colors of nature. The colors of our skin tones. The colors in my crayon box. Listen to the story Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy. This is a great conversation piece about the rainbows of our world. Color a rainbow with skin tone crayons. Color a rainbow with only your favorite colors, or least favorite colors. Color a rainbow based on yourself.
While we want children to learn about the science behind rainbows and understand that the light is broken down into the colors we can see, we also want them to understand that rainbows are a sight of beauty … and all colors are beautiful.
Yesterday I sat down multiple times to type up a post, but I couldn’t formulate figure out an at home activity that matched the story I wanted to share. I couldn’t make it meaningful. I’ve learned as a teacher that if activities aren’t meaningful, approachable and memorable then they won’t be impactful with children. So, sorry I didn’t share an activity, but here is the link to the story I wanted to share: It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr.
Onto today’s stories and activity:
Today I am sharing two stories that deal with the same topic, skin color. Often we hear people talk about skin in terms of black and white. But, I challenge children (and adults) to look again. The first story compares these colors to those of the earth. All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka. The Colors of Us by Karen Katz finds a young girl and her mother walking through the neighborhood looking at all the beautiful shades of brown that she sees on her friends and neighbors. She compares theses shades to foods that are familiar.
From the palest of sand to the darkest of chocolates, shades of browns are beautiful. So, today let’s celebrate that. Make a collage of all shades of brown paper. Draw with multicultural crayons. Blend paints to create shades of brown. Whatever meaningful, approachable and memorable activity would help your child see the beauty of browns. For me… I drew a rainbow, Because together we create a beautiful rainbow of colors
This week we will focus on accepting differences. Today’s story is All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold. In this story you will travel through a school day learning that all are welcome and accepted for who they are in the classroom. They learn to treasure differences. My favorite page from the story “We’re part of a community. Our strength is our diversity. A shelter from adversity. All are welcome here.”
This is a great opportunity to talk about acceptance and inclusion. Roll play greeting others as well as asking people to join in. Adults often assume that children know how to join a group, AND that they will naturally ask others in join the fun. But, these are skills that need to be taught. Many children learn from watching others as well as from other people greeting them and asking them to join, but direct instruction of these skills are helpful for many children.
What would you say if you saw a child alone on the playground? How could you help that child feel welcome? How would you feel if you were the one not included?
Let your child ask questions. Take the time to look, listen and learn together.
Have your child draw a picture of him/herself playing with someone who is different from them. This could be someone you know or a character from this or other stories. Discuss the similarities and difference. This could be physical differences as well as habits. Remember that the goal is to celebrate the differences. “Our strength is our diversity” Helping children see that the things that make you different are the things that make you special will help him/her see and appreciate the differences in others and view these differences as assets!
This week we will look at stories and activities that help children appreciate differences and acceptance of the uniqueness of individuals.
Today listen to the story Elmer by David McKee (read by David McKee). Elmer is a patchwork elephant that lives in a herd of all gray elephants. Elmer’s friends love to laugh at Elmer’s humor, but Elmer worries that they are laughing at his patchwork. He finds a way to change his skin to gray to fit in, but then realizes that the herd isn’t the same without Elmer the Patchwork Elephant’s presence.
Elmer and his friends learn a valuable lesson… the things that make you different are the things that make you special. This is a lesson that educators work to instill in their classes. The look that uniqueness is not a thing to be looked down upon, but instead to be seen as assets.
Chat about the things that make your child special. Look at physical, emotional, behavioral and other differences. Discuss likes and dislikes. How to these attributes make you… you?
At the end of the story, all the elephants have one day a year where they decorate themselves to show their own unique differences too. (Elmer paints himself gray on these days, to still stand out in his own way). Have your child draw an elephant, or print one off the web. Write on the top of the page “I am special because I am ME” Then around the elephant write attributes that make you… you!
Finally decorate your elephant to show off these attributes. What makes you different is what makes you special, celebrate these differences.
This would make a great family project. Have each member of the family create their own unique elephants. Show that there are attributes that are similar across the family, and ones that are special and unique to each individual.
Yesterday we started our topic of “I Can Try New Things” based on the book by David Parker. Today I have another book for you to share with your kiddo about trying new things. The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires. Lou thinks she can do anything until her friends want to climb a tree, but she has never climbed a tree before. Finally Lou decided to give it a try, but… well things don’t always work out the first time. But, Lou realizes she can’t climb… well not YET anyway.
The concept of not yet is very empowering for children. It helps them see that even if they struggle doesn’t mean they will NEVER do it. So here is today’s project. We will draw three sets of illustrations. I would not have your child write, but focus more on the conversation that goes with the illustrations.
In the top row, have your child think about something they could not do when they were younger, but then can do now.
In the middle row, draw about something that they couldn’t do before but they are getting better at doing now.
In the bottom row, illustrate something that you are still working on learning and show what it will look like when you succeed!