Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Teaching Tykes: Kindness Matters

Welcome to the first official week of Teaching Tykes! ;)  I hope that these posts will help you as you teach Primary each week--it's a really hard calling!

This week's lesson is Primary 2: Lesson 28: I Can Be Kind.  The purpose of this lesson is to teach the children in your class that they can be kind to others.

Here's an aside--have you noticed how many times Church publications say that people CAN do things?  I think that sometimes we think that somethings are too hard.  But guess what?!  YOU CAN!  Heavenly Father sent us here because He knows that we CAN return to Him!  Just a little motivational pep talk... :)

So, how do we, as teachers, show the importance of being kind to others?  Obviously you've all just said aloud or in your smart brains that it is by example!  I have a few tips that may help you in your quest to become more kind.

Ignore sad choices.  This is really hard.  Sometimes I think that we feel that we have to continually correct the children we teach.  May I offer an alternative?  Praise the GOOD/HAPPY choices!  If you find that your class is so out of control that you cannot even think straight, find the ONE thing that ONE of the children is doing correctly and be completely over the top with your praise.  Children are people pleasers.  They want to be praised.  Let me give you a personal example.

One week, our class was out of control (not completely, just fidgeting , not listening, etc.)  One child was sitting quietly.  Although I knew she wasn't technically listening to the lesson, she was sitting nicely (which is one of our class rules).  I stopped the lesson (nobody was listening, anyway) and immediately praised this little girl for her happy choice.  Here's how my praise went (name changed), "Oh, Lisa!!!  I am SOOOOOO happy that you are sitting quietly in our chair!  You are following the class rule so perfectly!  I am SOOOOOO grateful that you are trying to be a reverent example for your classmates!  Thank you SOOOOOO much, Lisa!  I just LOVE having you in my class--it's SOOOOO nice to have such a good example for all my friends to follow!" 

Over the top?  You betcha!  Did it make a difference?  Completely.  As I praised this little girl, each child realized what they were doing wrong and stopped.  As they did, I would say things such as, "Oh, and now Jack is sitting nicely, too!  Thank you Jack!  Oh, and look, Mary is following the rules now, too!  I am so glad the my friends all know how to make happy choices!  Now we'll be able to finish our wonderful lesson!"

I was kind.  I didn't FEEL kind inside--I was a bit upset and impatient in my brain.  What I WANTED to do was go on a rant about how we'd been repeating the class rules at the beginning of class for the past 4 months and that these children should know what was expected by now.  But, I chose to show kindness.  And it made all the difference in the world.

Be aware of your tone and volume of voice and the words you say.  Now, you can't always ignore sad choices.  When a child starts to hurt themself or others around them, correcting must be made--and quickly.  BUT, you will be much more successful with children if you use an even but firm tone of voice.  Shrieking at them or using an angry tone to tell them "NO!" will not help as much as taking the child aside (this is why I am such a HUGE advocate of team teaching) and calmly telling them what they SHOULD be doing before offering correction.  Here's an example that I've made up (although it's probably happened sometime during my work with children) that could help you.

Jason is angry.  He doesn't want to be at Primary and he is mad that you've "made him" come to class.  He has been acting out throughout the lesson and you've been doing your best to ignore him and praise the good you see in the other children.  Because he is not getting the attention he wants, Jason kicks Emily in the shin as hard as he can.  PAUSE.  Take a mental deep breath.  Take Jason out into the hall and explain that feet are for walking.  They can help us swim.  They can help us run quickly.  Feet are NOT for hurting our friends.  It is okay to be angry about things that we cannot change.  BUT, it is NOT okay for us to use that anger to hurt our friends or to make it hard for our friends to learn.  Give Jason a warning that the next time he kicks, he will have to go and spend time with a member of the Primary Presidency and that you might have to talk to his mom and dad about it if he makes another sad choice that hurts his friends.  Jason returns to class.  He is sullen for the rest of the lesson, but there are no more incidents of violence.

You may think this was a failure.  Jason was still mad and probably didn't get anything out of the lesson.  You may have weeks of this behavior.  But do you know something?  When you are consistent, the children realize it, know what to expect, and will rise to your expectations.  I promise that if you are consistent with your discipline in your classroom and that if you do so in a kind manner that you will see a change.  Eventually, Jason will become your greatest classroom helper and will LOVE you more than any other teacher he's had.  All because you showed kindness during disciplinary action.

And a tidbit on volume--if the kids get loud, you need to get soft.  YOU are the example of what is expected in your class.  If the children are so loud that you cannot teach and nobody is learning, take a break from teaching and play "If you can hear me."  This game goes a little like this (in a whisper tone), "If you can hear me, touch your nose.  Thank you, Kathy, for touching your nose!  If you can hear me, touch your ear.  Thank you, Julie!  You are listening!  If you can hear me, touch your toes.  Oh, Jason and Robert, thank you for joining us!" Continue this until all the children are showing that they are listening and then end by saying, "If you can hear me, fold your arms.  Thank you all for listening!  We are ready to finish our wonderful lesson!"  This especially works with younger children, but some of the older children may need something similar to help them be more reverent.

Be a team player.  This is hard for me.  I tend to want to just do things MY way because I know that they work and that I will maintain a reverent atmosphere if I just do things myself.  I'm working on it.  And it is HARD FOR ME.  You might be the exact opposite.  You might allow other adults to take care of all the issues that you have with the children in your class.  You and I need to find middle ground, friend!

Teamwork is important in the work of God.  We cannot do all things by ourselves. We need others.  We learn from them, gain different perspectives about things, and learn to get along with others.  All of these attitudes are important in the building of Zion.  When we show the children in our class that we want to be a team player and help those around us, they realize that kindness can persevere even in the wake of upheaval.  Because, let's face it.  There ARE those weeks.  And you know who needs more help working with children because they are unsure of themselves.  Always be willing to help.  And help WILLINGLY and KINDLY.  It's a work in process.  We don't get along with everyone.  BUT, we should always treat others kindly--especially when children are watching us.  And, believe me.  They ARE watching us.

So, that's my two cents for the week!  Hopefully these things help.  I did have a question--would videos on how to implement some of these things help?  Because I am a visual learner and need to see how things are done before I can really utilize them.  Let me know--I can look into trying to make some.

Let's get to the lesson helps!  Find the printable helps HERE.  And now I'll share how I'll be teaching this lesson:

*We didn't have time to color our picture this last week, and so I challenged the children to bring back a picture of them sharing in some way.  If any of the children do this, I will have them share it with us at the beginning of the lesson.

*Since I don't have cut-outs, I will use the ones that the church has--they're in my printable file. :)

*Since we have a large class and a small room, we won't be able to do the role play.  SO, we'll share a church video on the story and have a "pop quiz" about it by doing an activity on the board where we have the picture of the person on one side and what they did on the other.  I will have the children tell me where to draw the lines to.  These are in the printable helps.

*We will sing "Kindness Begins With Me" as our closing song.  This will help reinforce the point of the lesson.

*As a "just in case there is time" effort, I'll have pictures of different people (in the printable helps) and the children can choose one and tell how they can be kind to that person.

That's all for me this week!!! I hope that these things are helping you be more successful as a Primary teacher!  Have a restful Sabbath! :)


Auntie Deb said...

Thank you for your post about sad choices. Since teaching primary (for the first time in about 30+ yeaers) I have had one particular boy kick me, spit on me, pinch me, etc.....More than once we have had to take him to his Father during class, or deny him a reverence reward. I'm going to try this and see if I ignore what he is doing and focus on those (typically the entire rest of the class) it will have an impact...hope so....I have not been enjoying this calling as I should just because of the disruption he causes when he is in class. Thanks again!!!

Kira =] said...

I so needed the reminders about how to praise the good! Thank you!! I teach a class of all boys and it can get kinda hectic some times. Thanks for the refresher!

And especially the link of videos! =]

Emily Baird said...

THANK YOU SOOOOO Much for your great words of wisdom!! That was so helpful for me and perfect because I am struggling with that in my class too. I appreciate your efforts! It's blessing many lives:0)

Emily Baird said...

Thank you SO MUCH for your great words of wisdom. That was perfect for me right now. I am struggling with my class and that really helped a lot!! Thanks for your efforts, they are blessing many, many lives:)

Elizabeth said...

Thank you for the lesson ideas, but most especially for the wonderful thoughts you always share on teaching children and just on life and the gospel in general. I find both to be so helpful! I enjoy teaching Primary and being around the kids, but I have no experience teaching children and am sometimes at a loss for how to handle behavior issues. The advice in this post is perfect! Thank you!