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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Special Olympics Celebrations!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of watching competitors at the Special Olympics state competitions. Despite the horrendous heat, the competitors gave it their all!

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The event was paddle boarding and it requires a lot of strength and stamina. A good time was had by athletes and spectators alike. The highlight of the day for me, though, was getting to see this precious young lady compete. She has been dear to my heart since I met her in 2nd grade and she became best friends with my daughter.

Here are some pics of her paddling her heart out

By the way….thank you, Tropical Storm Erika, for slowing down so these awesome athletes could experience some victories and make memories! This little lady ended the day with a gold medal!! We were so proud! And look at that smile!

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If you would like to learn more about how you and/or your child can become involved, check out Special Olympics for yourself.

Thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

Summer Fun for Kids

Kids look forward to summer break! For many kids, this can mean little or no structure or routine. This can be good for a few days, but most kids–and especially those with special needs–need to continue with a schedule of some sort. Structure is essential not only for a happy and enjoyable summer but also for a successful transition back to school in the fall. Here are a few tips for helping parents to provide a structure while having fun too!

  1. Set specific times for waking up, eating, playing, and sleeping. Keeping a daily structure and schedule throughout the summer is very important. A visual schedule is helpful for a lot of kids, especially those with ADHD or Autism.
  2. Add some responsibilities to the day. While it’s important not to overwhelm kids during the school year, summer provides opportunity to add some chores or responsibilities. This can strengthen your child’s self-esteem, strengthen his or her sense of responsibility, and build skills. One summer when my kids were young, we were planning a vacation near the end of the summer that would last for 3 weeks. To begin the summer, they had their daily chores for which they could earn points to “cash in” for money to use on the vacation to buy souvenirs. They also needed to improve their reading skills over the summer so I gave them extra points when they would read a book and were able to answer some questions about what they read. This helped to continue with structure through the summer, gave them an incentive for “cash” for vacation, and it helped them improve on their reading. They loved the weekly visits to the library, too, that we made part of our summer schedule!
  3. Designate certain activities for certain days of the week. For example, Monday movies at the local park or library; Tuesday is outing day; Wednesday is working in the garden or yard; Thursday is swimming; and Friday is free day where the kids get to choose from a list of preferred activities.
  4. For outdoor activities, try a nature scavenger hunt at a park or an obstacle course in the back yard.
  5. For rainy days, make a fort out of sheets, laundry baskets, and chairs–or just use the dining room table. You can have a movie day with popcorn and then have the kids color, paint or draw a picture about their favorite part. Doing crafts is also a great way to develop/improve fine motor skills and to inspire creativity!

Here’s to a great summer!

Thanks for reading!

~Rebecca