180 Days of Kindness: Educating students on kindness and cultural competence

Kindness, empathy, acceptance: things we expect students to know and understand, yet we don’t always take the time to teach. At one of my schools there is a multicultural committee, which has taken on an initiative this school year to promote kindness every day in school in a creative way. They have challenged the students, staff, parents, and families to 180 days of kindness. Here is an introduction:

“There are 180 days of school each year and we are challenging you to be kind each and every day. Each day you will learn about a new way to be kind, you will learn about different customs from around the world, and/or you will learn something new each day about how to be kind. How to be kind to yourself, how to be kind to others, and even how to be kind to our world. WE hope that you take us up on our challenge and tht by the end of our 180 days together, this school and community will be the kindest ever! Some days it may be easy, some days could be a bit more challenging, but either way, it is so worth it–love and kindness need to win! So, let’s begin….”

Power point slides are shared so that teachers can promote it in their classes and handouts are sent home for parents to promote at home. Here are a few of my personal favorites…

Day 2: Make new Friends There is a Jewish sayig that says, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.” A good way to make a new friend is by smiling at someone and saying, “My name is ___. What is yours?” Then, you can look for similarities between you.

Day 6: Dance for Joy— The continent of Africa practically shakes form the rhythm of dancing feet! The Ga people of Ghana dance during a month-long festival called Homowo (how-MOH-woh_. Long ago, the Ga suffered from hunger during a famine. The following year when the harvest was in, they recalled the hard times by mocking them with dance. Who knows, maybe dance can help people get over rough spots! Try dancing to let off steam when you’re angry, or to relax before you have something difficult to do. And, when the worst is over, you can dance for joy!
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Memory Jar: Ideas for Parents and Teachers

I’ve seen this idea posted on social media sites as the new year approached and I really like it! If you’re not familiar with it, the idea is to have a jar at home and when you have a good memory, you jot it down on a note and drop it in the jar. Then, at the end of the year as you are bringing in the new year, you read all the notes in the jar to reflect on the memories your family created. When I saw this, I thought it was a porject worthy of trying, but then I thought about how parents could use a variation of this idea for their children, especially if they are struggling learners.

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Back to School Memories

Yesterday was the first day of school for students in my district. This year, I have been assigned to an elementary and a high school. Yesterday, while I watched and greeted students as they came to school for the new school year, I was reminded of my own children and their first day of school. My son, the oldest, was excited to start school with his Star Wars backpack and school supplies. I can recall the big smile on his face as I took his picture. The following year, my daughter started kindergarten and my son was in the1st grade. My daughter was so excited to start school. She felt so “grown up” and could hardly wait. She insisted on wearing a dress. Not just any dress, however. It had to flare out when she twirled around. 🙂 Her hair in a ballerina bun and pretty black shoes and bobby socks with lace on them. I’ll never forget that day when I met her outside her classroom after school. She ran up to me, gave me a big hug, and exclaimed, “Mommy, I’m so proud!” She was so proud that she was a kindergartner and she had accomplished her first day. She loved it! My son, on the other hand, was utterly disgusted with his 1st grade classroom decorations. He reported to me, “Mom, the class is covered in clowns. Do they think we are kindergartners?!” He did love his teacher, though, and it was a great year for both of them.

They are both grown now but I will never forget those days! As I reflect on these cherished memories, I hope that you and your children, too, will make great memories this year.

Thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

School Phobia, Continued: From School Phobic to School Psychologist–Strategies for Parents

In my previous post, Part 2, I discussed my experience as a child in school and shared some strategies that worked and didn’t work so well. Here are a few strategies that can be invaluable for you as parents to help your child with anxiety, whether about school or anything else.

  1. Recognize physical symptoms. Our body will tell us when we are anxious. Our pulse increases, we might feel light-headed, or our muscles may get tense. Talk to your child about what is going on when they are anxious. First, ask them what they notice about their bodies when they become anxious. Often, children are able to identify the signs. If your child is very young or otherwise unable to identify physical symptoms, you can help them by observing them when you know they are getting anxious to see if you recognize any obvious symptoms. Once your child is able to identify the symptoms, help them to use calming strategies, such as the following ones, when they notice their bodies telling them they are anxious.

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School Phobia, Part 2: From School Phobic to School Psychologist–Strategies That Worked and Didn’t

In Part 1, I described my experience with school phobia and anxiety and mentioned that I won the fight over fear. Ultimately, I continued my education and became a school psychologist in which part of my job involves working with students who have similar issues. In this post, I would like to highlight some of the strategies that worked for me and some that didn’t. I don’t think I ever would have been able to identify these strategies if I hadn’t had the experience I did in graduate school. It was an aha moment and profoundly therapeutic. It happened informally one day while I was visiting with one of my psychology professors who was a counselor. Continue reading

School Phobia, Part 1: My Journey from School Phobic to School Psychologist

August: the month that brings anxiety for some. Many students of all ages are anxious about going back to school in the next few weeks. This is natural, especially as students are facing transitions from one level to the next. But for others, the thought of going back to school can stir up more than butterflies in the stomach. In the next few posts, I’d like to touch on the topic of school phobia. First, I’d like to share my own experience with school phobia and how I moved from being fearful of everything to helping others overcome fear. In subsequent posts, I’ll share some strategies that others have found beneficial.

My Journey 
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