Have you ever heard of bucket filling? Bucket filling is a lot like the golden rule: Do unto others as you wish they would do unto you. We all have an invisible bucket in our souls When our buckets are full, we are content and able to cope. When students have full buckets, they are able to learn. Their buckets are full of good thoughts and good feelings. They are able to be content and fulfilled at school. Filling each other's buckets helps students be fulfilled. When our buckets are empty, we are sad. When people dip our buckets by treating us poorly, we feel unfulfilled. When students have their buckets dipped, they cannot learn or be fulfilled at school.
We spend time at our schools helping your children learn how to fill buckets. "Bucket fillers" are those who help without being asked, give high-fives and compliments, and generally spread their love and good feelings to others. The simple metaphor of a bucket helps even preschoolers understand the importance of consideration and love, particularly towards those who need it. People who "dip" into our bucket often rob us of happy feelings by refusing to help with a task or by saying or doing cruel things. The challenge of "bullying" or "bucket dipping" can rear its ugly head anytime at school and is often contagious. We address it in a positive manner by teaching students to be considerate, generous, and thoughtful.
This link has many more ideas for how your children can learn to fill buckets instead of dipping them.
This past week we had an extra day off in honor of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I had the luxury of taking my own children to the DuSable Museum on Saturday, and this got me thinking on all the ways diversity informs our lives and should be celebrated. February is coming up fast, and February is also Black History Month.
There are many ways we can celebrate diversity with our children, especially as they grow older and are able to think more deeply about their diverse world. Here are some suggestions:
As we get closer to winter vacation, we become busier and busier. Children can get left behind in that hustle and bustle, but I wanted to share some thoughts with you about staying close to your kids, even when it’s busy and stressful. And it’s not about the gifts :).
It all starts in the morning. Morning snuggles are a great way for you to start the day with a smile and to help your children start the day with a smile. Weather its right after they wake up or right before they walk out the door, morning snuggles make everyone smile. The more children you have, the more important this step can be. It will have a ripple effect on the day and help everyone feel more loved. It will help you all wake up with gratitude. And getting organized the night before will ensure everyone has time for morning snuggles.
Another idea for the morning is playing holiday music while your kids eat breakfast or get dressed. You have so many options for finding holiday music that fits your family, from YouTube to cable or satellite, to the radio. With so many holiday music choices, it's a nice opportunity to make sure everyone leaves the house with a smile.
Another idea during the busy holiday is taking your children on a date. If your partner is willing to help and watch the other children, you can even do this one child at a time. You can take them to their favorite place, shopping for the opposite parent for a gift, or just out for a cafe to talk for 20 minutes. It doesn't have to be expensive and it doesn't have to be long, but your children will really appreciate you asking them questions and listening to them.
My last idea is making children feel useful. Children really do want responsibility, and want to help, and they usually want to be social about it. Let them help you cook dinner, or sort laundry, or mate those socks together. Hand them a broom while you mop, or a spray bottle while you do windows. The chores have to get done no matter what, why not do them together?
A long ago guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show said that one of the best gifts you can give your children is to act so excited to see them when they walk in the door. When you see your children next, be genuinely excited to see them, and they will know you put them first.
During these cold, damp, snowy weekends, parents and children are often stuck inside together. This can also be a great opportunity to use the time to build togetherness, and build relationships with your children. You might be tempted to use the extra time for focus on holiday-rush activities. But this is the perfect time to reconnect with your busy children. As you think about the activities you might enjoy together, think about the things your children love best. Do they like to draw, or cook, or play pretend? Here are some activities that might help you bond more with your school age children.
1. Try a new recipe together using items already in the cupboard. Everyone has those boxes, veggies, and cans that are being ignored. Be creative and whip something up together. As an extra touch, take some to a neighbor to try.
2. Make a blanket fort using chairs, beds or other furniture. Read books by flashlight underneath. Build a tiny city. Have thumb wars. Play truth or dare.
3. Use those blankets and chairs to make a puppet stage. Repurpose old socks using household markers and make up a play. Or reenact your favorite book. Or your favorite nursery rhymes. Or just goof around telling each other jokes using the puppets.
4. Play a board game. If you don't have any, have your children make one. Then they can try and stump you as you play the game together. Children can also cut up old boxes and make the deck, pieces, and other items needed for the game.
5. Play hide-n-seek inside with your children. Don't let them win, and see how creative they can get (but don't forget to play fair!).
The link below has nearly-free things to do when you are stuck inside because of the cold and snow. Many of these are adult activities, but children might enjoy many of them. Remember, it is all about reconnecting and building a relationship with your child.
December is here and the holiday rush is upon us. Presents to be purchased. Parties to attend. Tournament after tournament. Travel and planning. Parent definately feel the anxiety. Teachers feel the holiday pressure. And sometimes, kids are caught in the fray. How can we calm down and make the holiday times easier for our kids? How can we help our children to be less anxious, stressed, and pressured?
1. Feel free to say no. Maybe you and your children don't have to attend every single party, game, concert, or tournament. Ask your children what they really want to attend and what they would perfer to skip. Then, use the time you skipped wisely by reconnecting as a family.
2. If you are sharing your children with another gaurgian or parent, co-parent by sharing with them if the children are being over-scheduled, or if there are events you can attend together, rather than too many things being on the schedule.
3. Don't procrastinate. Your children pracrastinate due to their immaturity. As parents, we can prevent our own procrastinationation and help our children to be more organized.
4. Keep visible family calendars. Help children to feel free to change these visible calendars, so mom, dad, grandparents, and other family helpers know what is going on each week.
For more ideas to protect your children, see the following website.
At the latest Preschool for All presentation, our Milne Grove Principal, Jaime Koziol presented on calming techniques and ideas for preschool. Many of these ideas are good for all families, especially those with children in a few different age groups.
When we look at students and families who are good at staying calm, we see many of the same attributes: self-management, self-awareness, responsible decision making, relationship skills, and social awareness. We know that these students like school, like their friends and families, and do better in school with better attendance and grades. Your schools are doing lessons to help some of the student improve these attributes, but there are also things you can do to help at home.
The best thing you can do to help is being a good role model. You can model being calm. You can model how to act and react when times get stressful. When you manage frustration and frustrating events with control and a positive attitude, your child watches and learns from these behaviors. But what can you do beyond this? Talk about family problems during times when no one is upset, when everyone is calm. Make sure your child continually feel included and appreciated. Give them positive attention when they are upset, rather than telling them they are in trouble for being upset. Model good language to use when you are upset.
One of the best ways for us to model staying calm is by staying quiet. I also think when adults keep their bodies low and crouch down to below the height of the child, this is another way to stay quiet. This staying quiet will also help you listen to your child more actively. This active listening gives you time to understand what they are trying to communicate, but also to make them feel listened to and heard! Calmly tell them the response you need to give as parents, but only once they have finished talking.
The link below has more ways to stay calm and help your child stay calm.
Erin Rae is the Curriculum Coordinator at Lockport 91.