“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.
The month of April starts out with reasons to laugh. April Fool’s Day is April 1 and has been celebrated for many centuries with practical jokes being played out everywhere – including the early childhood classroom, as well as at home when young children begin to understand what they can do to be funny on the annual April Fool’s Day. Teachers and parents, be on the lookout for young children to pull April Fool’s jokes on you. Whether it’s being kidded that you have a bug or spider on your back – which I do fall for every year – or a joke that the young child makes up, absolutely nothing gives me more joy and warms my heart than to hear children giggle and laugh. Their genuine laughing is truly contagious and other children and adults can join in the joy of laughter.
Also, April 1 is “Reading Is Funny Day.” There are so many fun books that you and your child can enjoy together. This, too, is a wonderful way to encourage children to engage in the joy of reading. Young children who can read love riddle and joke books. Our local librarians do an excellent job in taking time in guiding families to age and content appropriate books.
Laughter not only brings joy, but many health benefits for the young and old. Free medicine? Right! Have you noticed when sharing jokes and funny times with young children that the complaints are reduced? This applies to older people too when gathering in social fellowships when sharing funny experiences. Too, have you ever noticed a good hearty laugh relaxes the whole body by releasing physical tension and stress. Medical research has shown that laughter protects the heart by improving the function of blood vessels and strengthens the blood flow. Laughing is good cardiovascular exercise. Laughing helps the heart like brisk walking, light running or jogging would. This is a “win-win” for the young and old. Mental health benefits of laughter are joy, zest to live, relieving anxiety, fear and mood improvement.
Another laughing event that starts on April 1 and goes through April 7 is “Laugh At Work Week.” This was founded by Randall Munson and is celebrated around the world. This is so good for a business in building communication, less stress and good relationships. This builds a sense of team playing in working together. So, even after April Fool’s Day, you have the opportunity of laughing and having fun for the next six days.
How can we as teachers and parents encourage children to laugh and have a good sense of humor? Young children learn better when they are happy. In the classroom and the home, we have to set up understood rules for children. But too, we can have a happy and relaxed climate which promotes creative learning. Too, as I have mentioned in previous articles, play is a child’s work. It is so important for young children to have free play so they can laugh, pretend play, create and learn.
As a teacher, I love seeing parents being playful with their children and laughing together. From playing hide and seek, chase, pretend play with dolls and stuffed animals, etc., taking time to play with a child or children bring on a good sense of humor and build good memories. Children love to see their parents laugh and use a sense of humor in addressing daily problems in living. Parents’ actions can promote a warm, loving and supportive environment where children have the freedom to express themselves which encourages a sense of humor.
Praising a child for who they are in life, in little accomplishments, as well as big accomplishments builds their self-esteem. When a child feels confident for who they are, they sense a freedom of expressing themselves through creativity and a sense of humor. As parents and teachers, it is so rewarding to see and hear children laugh.
As I end this article on laughter, I want to share a funny time in my life at Easter. Every year, growing up in Opelika, I eagerly awaited the Easter Egg Hunt at Rocky Brook Park. Every year, I ran out with the other egg hunters, but many years in a row, I never found any Easter eggs. I watched as other egg hunters won prizes for finding the most eggs, golden or silver and my parents always said, “well, there is next year.” Finally, my year came to be honored at the community Easter Egg hunt. Again, that year I ran out with the other egg hunters but still did not have any eggs in my basket. When announcing the prizes, the first division to be called for a prize was the egg hunter who had found no eggs. That was me! Instead of tears, that year there was laughter. I can still remember receiving the big chocolate egg for my no find. After all these years, memories of a community who honored children in all activities still brings on a smile and a laugh of appreciation. I pray each of the readers has a wonderful week of JOY and a Happy Easter!