CONTRIBUTED TO THE OBSERVER
After living in Mobile for so many years, I want to say Happy Mardi Gras to Classroom Observer readers by tossing you a moon pie and saying, “I Love You to the Moon and Back!”
Mardi Gras is celebrated all over the world. Parades have been going on for a few weeks. The history of Mardi Gras goes all the way back to the Middle Ages as people eat richly the night before they had to start fasting on Ash Wednesday. In Mobile since 1967, the Sunday before Fat Tuesday is known as Joe Cain Day to honor the man who started the ball rolling in 1868.
Colors for the holiday are green, gold and purple. Green stands for faith, gold stands for power and purple stands for justice. We say “let the good times roll” as folks dance in the streets, throw beads, moon pies and toys and enjoy the different delicious King Cakes. A toy baby is placed in a slice of King Cake. Legend has it, the person who gets this slice of King Cake will have good luck for the year.
We early childhood teachers look forward to the month of February with our students because it offers so much creativity and offers opportunities to express love on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. The children I read to have already let me know weeks ahead that they have been working on their valentines. It is my heart and objective to offer readers simple ideas to enrich their child’s awareness and appreciation of seasonal favorites as well as understanding how their children think and develop.
In the Language Arts and art areas of the classroom, as a teacher I love to see young children make and create their own valentines that they can mail to themselves and their families. Parents, you can do this with your child at home. We like to make the old fashioned valentines out of leftover scrap materials, pieces of lace, doilies which can be bought for a few dollars or made out of white paper in which you cut out a snowflake. Add buttons or whatever you have around the house. Let your child glue and make his/her own designs. Make this an afternoon family craft time. Help your child to address an envelope that is to come back to them. Let them help you stamp it. Try to mail it from the post office for them to have a hands-on field trip. Not only have you covered a seasonal craft lesson but also you have taught your child about the post office and how to mail a letter. Children get so excited when they are making and giving something to someone else. Giving is straight from the heart.
I know we have email, text, Twitter, etc., to send quick messages, notes and communications, but one way to send love to your child is by handwritten notes. Drawing a note for a child does take time, but heartfelt gratitude that this brings will result in a lifetime of memories and benefits. From the teacher’s corner, I have seen how excited children become when they realize they have received a simple Post-it note from mom or dad. It brings joy and security to them all day long.
I know I have mentioned this topic in earlier Classroom Observer columns on an annual basis, but it is important to cover this again. This coming Tuesday, Feb. 12, is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. He was born in 1809 and was our 16th president. As a teacher, I love to do the silhouettes, coloring over copper pennies, making top hats, etc., in the early childhood classroom, but what is more important is the life and legacy that he left behind for we parents, grandparents, and teachers to teach our children. Lincoln was called “Honest Abe” because he was an honest man. We recall the story of Lincoln working in a country store where he had taken a few more cents from a customer on an item that was more than what was due. He closed the store and walked quite a long distance to return the correct change to the customer. One of Lincoln’s quotations is that “Truth is your truest friend.”
In telling the truth, we as teachers and parents have to look and assess a child developmentally. In childhood, the habit of not telling the truth can start as early as toddlerhood or preschool. This is why it is so important as parents and teachers to take the time to sit down and teach young children the importance of being honest as soon as they are able to cognitively understand. God gives young lives the instinct to explore their world. As observers, they learn what gives them happiness, joy, new abilities and possibilities. They also observe what gets them into trouble and what doesn’t.
Why do children not tell the truth? Again, I want to emphasize the importance of talking to children to get to the root of why they may lie. As parents, grandparents and teachers, we have to examine our expectations.
- Are our expectations too high? Do they fear of getting into trouble if they have done something wrong? As a teacher, I truly prefer for a student to do their best even if it is a C or D, rather than lie and get a dishonest A. In our world today, children already put too much pressure on themselves to perform to please others. I learned so very early in my teaching career this truth when I had a third grade student at 8 years old have a physical, mental, emotional breakdown and end up in the hospital because she did not make 100 on her spelling test. I did not put any pressure on her whatsoever, nor did her parents, but she put pressure on herself to succeed. Let children know how special they are to you and that you want them to try to just do their best, but not pressure themselves. Hugs and praises of encouragement on how special they are to God and you makes Psalm 139:14 a verse of life truth: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, Wonderful are your works, my soul knows it very well.”
- Don’t embarrass a child in front of other children or family if you have caught them in a lie. Have a spot in your home where you and your child can face each other and come to the truth about a circumstance or situation.
- When we pray and consciously try to model life’s truth, that is truly the best teacher that we can pass down to our children.
Let’s celebrate February.
Beth Pinyerd has taught many years in the early childhood classroom. She has a master’s degree in early childhood education.