Resolutions, predictions, and transitions arise with the new year! This is a great opportunity to start new healthy habits as a whole family. Sit together and ask, What do we want to make better? Consider some possibilities and come up with your own:Be more thoughtful of others.
Ask each other, “How can I help you?”
Read a story together every day.
Start getting ready for bed 30 minutes earlier.
Eat a “vegetable of the day” and try new ones.
Turn off technology at least one hour before bedtime.
Write notes to each other and place them in lunchboxes, on kitchen counters, on top of pillows, and other places with phrases like: “You mean the world to me!” “You make me happy!” “I love you!” “You’re the best!”
There are endless ways to show gratitude, but like everything, children learn by example. Every day at Champlain they learn and practice getting along with a diverse group of people, by personality, age, ethnic background, gender, and religion. They learn the power of flexibility, problem solving, resilience, and community, all of which can be practiced at home, too.
The week before winter break, renowned educator Jennifer Stanchfield facilitated innovative activities in one-third of Champlain classrooms. Integrating brain-based educational research, Ms. Stanchfield fostered the development of class community and student voice over three days of workshops. On January 10, she returned to Champlain and taught a daylong teacher workshop based on her book, Inspired Educator Inspired Learner (Wood N Barnes Publishing, 2014). She draws much of her inspiration from Burlington-born philosopher John Dewey, who wrote in 1910, “To be playful and serious at the same time is possible, and it defines the ideal mental condition.”
The first step in building community starts with a “hook” to get students’ attention. Students selected objects from a treasure box and shared with a partner a personal goal. They also invented new handshakes unique to their classroom. To get to know each other, they shared the origins of their name, or perhaps created a new nickname. In one activity, students sat back-to-back and described each other with positive (nonphysical) attributes. With a full bucket of compliments, each student chose a picture postcard, and classmates had to guess the reason for this choice. Ms. Stanchfield explained that, “Often people find it easier to share when they can attach their thoughts to an object or image and will share more deeply when they have a visual symbol to represent their ideas and feelings.” On their postcards, they wrote a note to their “future selves,” restating their positive traits described by their peers.
For more information on Jennifer Stanchfield’s programs, including ideas to try at home (such as the handshake and postcard), visit http://blog.experientialtools.com.
Champlain Pride! Thank you, baby and grown-up dragons, who made Champlain’s dragon on New Year’s Eve a great success! Very special thanks to parent Doug DePolo, who made this special event possible!