By Beth Pinyerd
In my earlier years of teaching, I was teaching a class of children who had strong personalities and were leaders in a good way!
But, this group of children had a hard time getting along in the classroom and on the playground. The principal of the school had seen these children a whole lot on different occasions. He and I met for a midyear assessment of my class and he suggested I teach and model “POP” with my class of children.
At first, I thought my principal was referring to soda, popcorn or fireworks. He told me to teach a lesson on POP being “Positive, Optimistic, Peacemaker” with my students. It worked! All over my classroom when interactions were getting a little tense, one could hear my young students whisper “POP.”
I have used this simple truth in other areas I have taught and served in. I would like to share with my readers how “POP” can be brought out with children and families.
P- Positive Point out to your children what they have to be grateful for.
We all know that some days are just “plain old hard” but having a heart of gratitude establishes “Positiveness” in a child’s character.
As a teacher, when children came into my classroom we would journal what we were thankful for the first 15 minutes of the day! Drawing a simple picture or writing just one word is all it took! Examples of what they shared “I had a warm breakfast”; “I saw pretty white frost on the ground”; “I saw sunshine and clouds in the sky”; “My family and teacher gave me a hug.”; “ I sat by a new friend on the bus,” etc.
As a family you can play, “I am thankful for game” as you ride in the car or at home. Try this. It’s sort of like a “scavenger hunt” for children to see and say all the things they are thankful for. It will amaze we grownups in looking through the eyes of a child of the simple things they are grateful for.
As a young child being taught by seasoned teachers in Opelika, optimism was instilled in me at a young age. Because of my learning challenges, basic skills did not come easy to this Classroom Observer.
My classroom teachers spent a lot of time with me in class as well as after school. The small steps of progress were always cheered on with hope – “Yes you can do this!” I was a “late bloomer” in learning and understanding but it gave me a fortitude of optimism and a heart, empathy, and understanding for young children who have difficulty learning.
As teachers and parents we can connect and commit with our children and students in rolling over “the bumps in the road of life” and point out children’s unique gifts and talents. Too, it takes modeling optimism ourselves.
Recently, I was confronted by a young child who did not want to be in class. As soon as she walked into the room, she started yelling at other children and her teacher, which was me. I was very touched by the way the Children’s Director took time to teach and console this child. She repeated calmly not to yell and to use kind words in interacting with others in the class.
The director modeled with the child how to share with other children and not just grab toys from others. The Children’s Director modeled peaceful behavior over and over. Not giving in but keeping her voice calm and her instructions clear.
This director was not focusing on unacceptable behavior which would hurt other people but she was focusing on the child’s heart to change. It worked! By the end of class, the child was playing peacefully with other children. The time spent with this child spelled LOVE!
Our goal as teachers and families is to help children to learn treat other children and adults like they want to be treated. Let’s stop and teach POP to our children and “POP” it into our hearts as well!