Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The ABC's We All Need to Show We Know

I've discovered that over time we change what we say kids should know and be able to do as a result of "schooling" - what's important this year may not be as important next year. Right now we're focused on helping kids gain "21st Century" skills - whatever those are. We're preparing them to work in jobs that don't even exist yet! Not an easy task.

But I've also learned that there are a few lessons everyone needs to learn in order to positively impact this world. I know both parents and teachers are already equipped to teach these all important lessons. What do you need to teach them? A textbook? A great lesson plan? A information-rich website? No. All you need is the model of how you live your life.

Here are my three basic, life-changing lessons.

APPRECIATION for one another's gifts & talents - kids need to recognize the gifts and talents in others and show their appreciation for that publicly or privately. Within a family, model for your children how you recognize each other's strengths. "Jake really picks up music easily. I love hearing him play." Focus on their strengths/talents without being self-critical. For example, don't say "Jake plays a mean trumpet, but I can't carry a tune to save my life!" Keep the focus on the person whose talent you are touting.

Be a BLESSING - Help children seek out opportunities to be a blessing to someone else. How can they be helpful? How can they take the focus off of themselves and place it on someone else? Encourage them to just ask the question, "Do you need anything? Is there something I can do for you?" In school and at home, kids need a chance to serve others.

COMPASSION - There is always (unfortunately) someone worse off than you! The companion to APPRECIATION is COMPASSION. Two sides of the same coin. When one brother is better than the other at a subject or a sport, they both have an opportunity to show appreciation and compassion. This is not feeling sorry for someone. This is not pity. It is something you do in your heart, not necessarily with your words. If you see your brother struggle, you help. If they are frustrated, you soothe. You acknowledge their weakness, and find ways to walk alongside or hold them up.

The common thread through these ABC's is that they are all OTHER oriented. We need to help children take the focus off of themselves. But I suspect we as their teachers and parents must first do the same.

With your life, show what you know!