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Making Friends Means Taking Turns

A cornerstone of friendship is the ability to take turns. One goal of care-giving, then, becomes teaching this skill. “Sharing” has become a hallmark of Kindergarten curriculum. But one year of classroom teaching is insufficient to plant, water, a grow a heart of caring. Learning to take turns can start at home. Almost any activity can be turned into an opportunity to take turns: when a child gives a hug, the parent or care-giver gives a hug back. With a pet dog or hamster, a child and adult can take turns rubbing its back. When playing with race cars, you can take turns using certain Hot Wheels. Taking turns teaches: • Self-control: Children must control their bodies while waiting for […]

Kindness as a Gift

The holiday season is full of stories of unexpected generosity. Children think of presents: looking forward in anticipation to receiving holiday treats. Some songs of the season teach children to they earn these gift. A famous jingle about Santa rings, “so be good for goodness sake!” Kindness is about more than earning gifts. Kindness is about giving without getting back. And as much as we like to credit ourselves for our own virtues, kindness is learned. As we model kindness, the mirror neurons of a watching child start to fire—he or she learns to how to be kind. Harvard’s educational department agrees that kindness is not a given for children but must be taught. With research, initiatives, and campaigns, their […]

Beyond Minding Manners: Teaching Gratitude as Attitude

We want our students to grow to be happy people. Benedictine Monk David Steindl-Rast, author of several books on gratefulness, begins his TED talk exploring the connection between happiness and gratefulness. He asks, “Is it really the happy people who are grateful?” His answer is, essentially: no, it is grateful people who become happy. “Please” and “thank you”—the words of gratitude, reflect manners, but they do not necessarily reflect a thankful attitude, the attitude which builds a foundation for a happy life. Robert Emmons, leader in the sciences on gratitude, teaches psychology at the University of California, Davis. He suggests tangible gratitude activities for early learners. He says, “You can also use concrete reminders to practice gratitude, which can be […]

Teaching Tips: 5 Ways to say “Thank You”

As with any other learned activity, thankfulness starts as a discipline. And, like any other learned discipline, gratitude requires repetition and pattern. How, then, do we teach in a way that does not equate “thankfulness” with a prompted (and probably sticky-fingered) “thank you”? The answer lies in variety. To teach toddlers and young children that gratefulness is big, we need to model it as big. Try using all five senses for “thank you.” Sound: Start with the words. Give meaning to the P’s and Q’s by using them generously. Have children practice saying “thank you” individually and as a group. Varying pitch and tone (or singing a song) can be a fun and silly way to keep students engaged. Sight: […]