Guiding our children to shine their inner LIGHT by being our absolute best!

Posts tagged ‘emotional wellness’

The Oreo Cookie Theory

oreo

The end of the school year is quickly approaching and many believe that the kids are ‘acting up’ because they are done with school and ready for summer vacation. I have a different perspective on this…

As soon as June 1st hits (sometimes earlier) the kids suddenly appear to have forgotten the rules and have no motivation to work. They also seem to be fighting with one another more than ever and disputing the tiniest issues that didn’t seem to matter just a few weeks ago.

Ten years ago I saw this happening in my classroom to my sweet, loving, well trained 2nd graders and I was baffled because this group of kids was truly like a family. They were loving to one another and worked well cooperatively so when this ‘change’ occurred–literally overnight–I had no idea what was happening.

I reinstated the rules, tried to make learning as fun as I possibly could and focused on projects that would hold their attention, yet they were still constantly arguing with one another. Then The Oreo Cookie Theory came to be…

The kids just came in from recess and there were several requests for a ‘Community Meeting‘.

*A Community Meeting is something that we hold in my classroom when we have a problem or concern that we need to solve as a group.

We went to the ‘Meeting Place Rug’ and sat in a circle. They were all familiar with the rules; if you didn’t see it with your own eyes or hear it with your own ears you were not to judge, but instead listen mindfully. One child raised their hand to use an I Statement regarding their frustration. Then another and yet another. I sat back and wondered what was going on with these kids. They were literally like a family. We were all so close and we always worked out our differences together but lately it was a nightmare after every recess.

As I listened to the kids venting their feelings I myself was feeling helpless because I wanted them to enjoy our last few weeks together instead of nitpicking at one another. I interrupted the conversation and explained that perhaps we were all just ready for a break because it was a long year and we were excited for the summer. The kids kind of shook their heads and then there was an uncomfortable silence in the room.

Oh I got it then. The kids heard me say the words, “Let’s enjoy our last few weeks together instead of fighting” and the flood gates opened.

Several of the kids had tears in their eyes, as did I, as we all realized we were bracing ourselves for our end. Yes, we were excited about Summer, but we were also sad to leave one another.

At the time I worked in a school that was a primary center. We hosted grades K-2 and then the kids went to two separate schools across town from one another for grades 3-5 depending on where they lived.

The kids began to speak about their sadness of leaving and how scary it was that things were going to change. I did my best to reassure them that they would love 3rd grade and would all see each other again in 6th grade, but then one child raised her hand and the ‘Oreo Cookie Theory’ was born.

She looked right at me with tears in her eyes and spoke with a soft and broken voice. She said, “Well, Ms. Scalzo (that was my name back then) it’s sad that we are leaving and going to 3rd grade but you don’t really know why.” Of course I inquired and she responded, “It’s kind of like we are an Oreo Cookie. We are each the chocolate cookie ends. One cookie goes one way and the other cookie goes the other way.” I literally began to hold my breath to hold back the tears and then she said, “The worst part is that you are the fluffy stuff in the middle and we’re never gonna see you again.”

At that point we were all crying and then, of course, hugging.

I am proud to say that those 2nd graders are graduating from High School this year and I can’t wait to attend their graduation. I have thought of them often as the years have past and I especially think of them every June when my kids show the same signs of separation anxiety.

If you are a teacher or a parent and you’ve noticed a change in your child in the past few weeks that may be a bit frustrating please consider this ‘Oreo Theory’ and give them a break.

Instead of getting angry or annoyed with their behavior, give them lots of extra love because now you know that although they are excited about a new beginning and sunshine, they are also sad about an ending.

Be gentle. Be understanding. Be loving.

Lots of Love & Tons of Light,

Vicki

 

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Choose Love

candle

This morning, while watching my 7 year old voraciously tear through his Christmas gifts I couldn’t help but think of the victims of Sandy Hook.  I saw flashes of each of the innocent victims; especially the children, who were taken from this life all too soon in my head.  My heart was swollen with pain and sorrow while I watched my little guy in all of his joy on Christmas morning.

We have all been so affected by this tragedy for several different reasons; some of us are affected because we are parents of young children, others are teachers who cannot seem to shake the visions and sense of what happened on Friday, December 14th in a small, quaint community.  And most (if not all) of us have been jolted with utter disbelief at how such a terrible thing could happen.

I’m affected by all of the above, and so much more… 

I was sitting in my principal’s office on Friday, December 14th when CNN announced the tragedy.  I couldn’t believe what I was viewing on the television.  I, who never watches the news, who was waiting for my principal to review my post observation, was sitting in what felt like a surreal moment.  I was stunned and totally heart-broken by the news that was flashing across the screen.

I tried to stay away from the news because I am truly affected by it, but I couldn’t.   On Saturday, I read that all of the children who were killed were in 1st grade.  I was completely devastated because not only do I teach 1st grade, but I also have a 1st grader of my own.  As tears streamed down my face I knew in my heart that I had to do something.  I sat quietly asking my higher power for guidance and then I remembered Chakra Bear.

Chakra Bear is a small stuffed animal who sits in my classroom and helps my children to feel their feelings and voice their truth.  I bought this little healing bear several years ago in a small book store.  The bear came with a coloring book that told a story of a little girl who was sad and when she held her Chakra Bear she ultimately felt better because of its ‘good energy.’

When one of my kids feels sad, disappointed, or nervous (has a dim light) they go to the shelf to get the bear and hold it at their desk.  This alerts me that they are hurting and I go to them as soon as possible.  I ask them if they would like to talk about it or not.  At that point, they share an ‘I Statement’ with me or choose to just hold the bear.  Either way, their feelings are being acknowledged so that they are not holding it in and burying it.  Oftentimes, my students will get the bear for other students who look sad and this is truly amazing because I am witnessing compassion in action.

When Chakra Bear came to mind as the tears poured from my eyes, I knew that this bear belonged in Sandy Hook!

I immediately Googled the creator and started the ball in motion so that I could get a healing bear out to each of the families who lost a child on Friday, December 14th.  I was astounded that once the Chakra Bear Project went up on my Facebook page people responded quickly with love.  Within hours we had reached the goal of donating 20 bears to the families and people were asking to send a bear to every child in the school.

I loved the idea, so I researched further and continued the campaign.  With the help of my email list, Facebook and my school community we were able to put together a special care package for each of the 20 families, donate a Chakra Bear for every K-1 student and send another healing animal (Tai Chi Tiger) for grades 2-4.

On Sunday, December 23rd I drove out to Sandy Hook with a few friends to deliver the healing stuffed animals.  We drove for about 2.5 hours to a quaint little town in Connecticut that reminded all of us on this journey of the small town we teach in.  We dropped off our gifts, attended a service at a local church and then went into town to ‘pay our respects’ at the memorials.

The energy in town was somber.  It felt just like the energy in NYC on 9-11-11; calm, quiet, and loving.  There were bears, candles, pictures and notes of love and support from all over the world.  It was hard not to be overwhelmed by the outreach and love.  We walked through the town and all you could hear was the rushing water from a nearby creek.  I had chills from my head to my toes as we turned to go back up the hill to the church and saw the police cars blocking the road to the elementary school.

On the drive home we were all quiet.  Perhaps we were processing our feelings.  You would think that I would feel good because I answered the call within to do something, even though it was small, it was something and there was loving intent behind the project.  Yet, in the past few days I have felt as if I have been in a daze.

I now realize why…

When I look at pictures of the victims, I see life and light dancing in their eyes.  When I look at the perpetrator’s picture, all I see is total disconnection.  At one point in his life, he too was an innocent child.  He was a child who had light in his eyes and life abounding.  I find myself wondering how he could get to such a point in his life that he could be so totally disconnected from Spirit.  Then, I look around in life and realize that I unfortunately see this every day, and you do as well.

Working in a school, I often see children who lose that light very early.  It’s the saddest sight my eyes have ever seen…a child who loses their spark.  There are several reasons for this; abuse, neglect, emotional trauma, lack of love, etc.  It saddens me that we can allow the light to dim in any child.

My intent with Chakra Bear in my classroom is to give my students an opportunity to feel their feelings, speak their truth and connect with one another.  I never realized just how important this truly is until this very moment.

It takes a village to raise a child, every child, even that child who you turn and judge because of their behavior.  All children need our love and support.  All children are trying hard to communicate with us in some way, shape or form.

I’ve heard several people say, “There’s really nothing we can do.”  I beg to differ.  There is something we can all do.

We can teach our children that we are all connected.

We can teach them that we are all one.

We can BE the change we want to see by simply being present in the moment and acknowledging their feelings, their voice and their very existence.

Today and every day focus on being present in the moment so that you can not only shine your own light that is deep within your heart, but more importantly…

Ignite the light of the children who surround you. 
 
If we don’t want to see tragedies like this again, then we all need to take responsibility to teach our children to connect instead of disconnecting.

When we are disconnected, there is fear. When we are connected, there is LOVE.  Choose love.

Childhood is Too Precious to Ignore

 

There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.  ~Graham Greene, The Power and The Glory

Childhood is a short period in our lives that begins at birth and ends at puberty.  According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, it is defined as; 1) the state or period of being a child. 2) the early period in the development of something.

Birth to puberty is not a very long time and yet it seems as though the span of childhood is diminishing right before our eyes.  Has anyone else noticed that children are not allowed or encouraged to be children in today’s society?

For some reason, we spend most of our time; ‘racing to the top’, expecting children to be mini-adults, and constantly doing this thing called life, instead of living life.

As a teacher and advocate for children I am appalled when I hear people say, “Well, there’s nothing we can do about it.”

I question what is happening in our educational system when we are spending more time documenting our teaching than actually empowering and teaching our children.  I wonder just how terrific technology is when I walk into a restaurant, and see every person in the family on some type of electronic device.  I shudder when I notice that seven is the new nine during childhood and yet people are still saying, “There’s nothing we can do about it.”

We complain that children don’t pay attention in schools.  We say that there is a terrible break down in the family, and we throw the word bully around like it’s a new catch phrase, but what are we doing to change these things?  We need to do something about it.  It’s not a nicety, it’s a necessity.

Looking at the current life span, you might conclude that childhood is somewhat insignificant in the whole scheme of things, because, let’s face it, it’s brief.  However, the truth is, childhood is the most critical time period of our entire lives.

When are we going to wake up and realize that we are pushing the most precious time of our lives right out the door?

I started teaching fourteen years ago.  I knew, even then, that I was different.  I had a holistic perspective on teaching where I believed that we should embrace childhood in the midst of educating, enlightening and empowering children.  I always felt that in order to be successful academically, you had to make a true connection with the children in front of you.  I strongly believe that you cannot teach the mind of a child, until you touch their heart.  I have spent fourteen years in the public education system teaching children to believe in themselves, speak their truth and LOVE learning.

Now, we are racing to the top and banging on the door of total catastrophe.  If we thought we had a bullying issue in America before this new plan in education came down the pike, we better buckle up because when you make a child feel inadequate, you bring out their fears and anger raises its ugly head!

A few weeks ago I was putting my 7 year old to bed.  We had just finished reading a story and he turned to me and said, “Mom, it’s just not fair. I don’t get it. I’m only in 1st grade and all we do is work, work, and more work.  We never even get to play!”  I looked into his eyes and took a deep breath.  I too teach 1st grade and I try my best to keep the fun alive, but it’s getting damn hard, even for me.  When my son spoke those words, I understood more deeply than he even realized that something BIG was going on here.  I realized that this is another dent in childhood.  I totally understood that we were trying to force our children to become human doings, instead of human beings at a very young age.

Of course! That’s exactly what’s going on because if we are human doings ourselves that’s exactly what we teach our children.

You know you’re a human doing when…

  • You have lists of things to do every day
  • You can’t even seem to put a thought together by the middle of the day because you’re already overloaded
  • You are constantly focused on what you have to get done
  • You forget simple things like brushing your teeth
  • You look at the clock and realize that it’s already bedtime
  • You look at your children and they are grown and you wonder where the hell the time went

Is this what we really want for ourselves? Is this what we really want for our children?

Childhood should be a time when we gain a strong foundation so that we can navigate the waters of life successfully.  If we continue to diminish childhood by expecting our children to act like mini-adults and do more, more, more, we are certainly headed for disaster.

Let children be children.  Children have a beautiful curiosity that is totally natural.  Why not tap into that to educate them?  And what is education anyways?  Instead of teaching children what we want them to know or what we think they should know, maybe we should we teach them how to think for themselves and speak their own truth?

If you asked me, I would say that childhood should be extended instead of diminished.  I’m really not sure why everyone wants to grow up so quickly.  What exactly are we running to?

I’m going back to being a kid and I suggest if you have children, teach children or care about children, you should tap into that energy too.

Childhood is too precious to ignore.  If it’s true that ‘there is always one moment in childhood that opens the door and let’s the future in,’ then let’s give the future some hope…

Teach children to believe in themselves, speak their truth, and above all BE.