7. How Not to be a Killjoy

photo-1437955010382-7b8721d5c977Killy joy: A person who spoils the enjoyment of others

In the kindergarten I work at, it is difficult for children to go outside of the box and use the classroom materials for their own exploration and creativity (unless it’s painting or drawing, but even within that there are certain rules such as not drawing on the table/easel).  The reason for this is because the materials we have are specifically designed for a child to use them a certain way. Even simple tasks like cleaning an orange press, we as teachers have these steps to show them.

When things get out of hand, meaning, when the child does not do what we asked or showed them to do, we tend to reprimand them – sometimes with a scowl, or a frown, sometimes changing our voice tonality to match the disapproval or even judging and shouting at them for what they’ve done.

But have we ever stepped back and just observed what they did? To see if whether that moment with the child was an expression of their own creativity and going outside the box?

Take for example these real situations that happened in my classroom:

  1. Two boys were washing glasses, and one of the boys decided to put water in his hair. The other boy saw how it changed the shape of the boys hair, so helped shape the hair into a style. Laughing, they played with the boy’s hair.
  2. A child sees himself in a mirror and starts dancing, doing cartwheels, watching himself perform tricks.
  3. A child (instead of washing the juicing equipment) set the equipment up in the sink in a way where when he turns on the water, the water goes through the equipment, creating a new structure for water to go into the sink. He called other children to see his invention.

How did we as teachers respond?  Basically what you would expect – a lot of no’s and stop that’s, telling what the child should do next.

When we adults/teachers see these sort of things, we tend to immediately think they are rebelling against the classroom rules, and we react, stop them, and/or tear them away from the situation. We don’t and cannot take that step back to see the natural creativity that came forth because is not within school rules and we don’t have time to look deeper. We got 20+ kids to manage! How do we even have time to look at the potentials and strengths of the child?

In creative – out of box situations like these, children are not deliberately rebelling from us/classroom rules but actually forget about the rules because they get so caught up in the moment, engaged in a new approach/way of working with something and just go for it — using the opportunity to try it out. The new moment of creation for children is more important than the old classroom rules/what they are ’suppose’’ to do, because it’s new and that process is fun for them. Though a point to mention is yes, sometimes their creations may create outflows that will disrupt the flow of the classroom environment (such as a child gets excited about what they discover and get the other children excited and classroom work is disrupted).

BUT – How many times do we as adults have an idea on something to try out/do and just go for it? Not so many… we tend to hold back and don’t go forward with things because we allow thoughts and memories of past failures limit us from just TESTING and SEEING what is possible…

I’d say, children are naturally creative in that they can make new things out of something we as adults think are used/meant for one purpose. The problem is when our way of thinking get in the way of child’s natural creativity and we become these authority figures that stop or ‘kill’’ the joy and opportunity for the child to continue exploring this new way of using the material.

I’ve been seeing these moments of creativity in children more and more when I’m around them, where they will use classroom materials in ways not meant to be used according to what we as teachers want, and — as much as I want to allow them to continue — I cannot , due to my job position, which is why I am currently trying to find ways where I can direct the child to perhaps continue this sort of exploration/creativity in another environment.

For example, I told V, this one child who placed a cup over the faucet to watch how the water came out that perhaps he can do this at home, but not here in the kindergarten. So I in a way approached it (as best I could) gently, communicating that this type of creativity may be possible in the home environment, but not here. Even writing this now, I  could have specified my approach by re-iterating the procedure on how we wash glasses in the kindergarten, and that there may be different procedures at home so ask your mom and dad if it’s ok to do this…

The problem is, with managing 20+ children in a classroom, staff members cannot actually allow children to freely express and test things out for themselves unconditionally, because they are in a confined environment with items/materials and thus rules need to be applied – however, are these rules in the best interest of children, where their mind, being and body are taken in consideration? No way! We have for CENTURIES formed our classroom rules based on our (adult-teacher) preferences, likes and wants. No where do we take the children 100% into consideration.

I say, a major change needs to take place. We need to uproot the current education system, get to understand more of the child’s mind, being and body and see how we can shape and design the future for children.

The best resources to start is studying the Parenting Series (even if you are not a parent!) and walking your own understanding of how human consciousness works through DIP Lite.

6. One Year in the Classroom

one year in the classroomIt’s been one year for me working as a teacher’s assistant in a bilingual kindergarten. When I first started, I was really thrown into the deep end — I had no prior experience to working all day with children 3-6 years old (the majority of my experience was with older children like 9+), and the assistant I replaced was well-liked by the children, so they were not so open to accepting me.

I was quite “weak” as a teacher’s assistant. For the first three months I did not know how to properly direct children, or lead children, or handle conflicts. I was quite scared of some of them, particularly the boys who did not like what I told them to do where I “kept at them” by not giving up on them, they would hit and kick me, call me names, from which I would take personally and retreat in myself. I was quite traumatized by the amount of pain I experienced with the aggressive behavior of the children, because I had never before. This then fueled a cycle of fear where whenever I would be near them and they needed to stop doing something, the courage I had was very small, fear override it, so my starting point was insecurity and the boys picked up on it, and they knew how to respond to that insecurity… so you can understand it was a tough ordeal for me.

Now, after a year of dealing with such situations, I rarely get hit at/kicked at, and if I do, I am much quicker in protecting myself and not taking it personally because I know more of the child’s background/mind and why they did that.  In a way, coming out of  all of this, I feel like I can handle anything, honestly.

This means that over time in the classroom, I grew more confident in myself, in knowing what works, knowing how things are run in the classroom, knowing the children more, and what I need to say to them, the more certain I became in how to direct them and things. This entire process took like a year, to get to where I’m at now with children, where if there is something wrong/off in the classroom, like a conflict is about to brew, or a child is not working on a material properly, I am more confident in myself on how to direct and say things. And it’s been cool to see the results of my process working with children where when I ask them of something that considers the rules of the classroom, or the environment, or the children, they do it, they (for the most part) listen to me, and if they don’t, I am more confident in being able to work with them to have them understand, or at times I let them go — it depends on the situation (in time to come I can share more specifics on how I work with children in the classroom).

I had many many many times wanted to quit and give up my job. The combination of working with children’s emotions and behaviors along with the physical labor I had to do and my own personal reactions, it was too much for me. But I knew deep down to not give up, to not quit. Yes, money was the main motivation to keep going, but I also knew that I would regret quitting because I genuinely enjoy the children and the classroom I’m in.

Now, since I am more stable working with them, a new process has opened up for me where I am trying to understand how I can work with the inner needs of children– especially the difficult ones, where I am observing their behavior and seeing within their behavior what they need that would support them in groundedness, stability and to take steps to their utmost potential. It’s been a fun process so far and am looking forward to sharing more with you on that.

Thanks for reading!

5. From Reacting to Understanding

children montessori reacting to understanding helping them fufill a needI had for a long time reacted to 4 year old V for his behavior and difficulty listening to teachers and children. He is different in that he cannot connect easily with the school materials and/or with other children by socializing.

What started happening was V began to give a lot of physical contact to the teachers and children, where he would randomly go up to a children and try to kiss them on the cheek, lips, or arm. Children would react to this, yelling or hitting him to go away, and so we as teachers started to teach V about space and asking before kissing children. This helped to an extent but then V continued with the physical attention without asking.

One day I looked deeper at the point, looking at human needs, and what this child’s behavior is showing me about needs he wants fulfilled. I saw V needed personal attention and physical touch as groundedness, which was what he was trying to do for himself by kissing and touching children, but it was bringing consequence to him.

Sunette from EQAFE.com showed me how V is an emotionally oriented child and does require personal attention because it is what he needs and by me supporting this need will support him with less consequences. One example to support him is sitting with him and reading a book for example, where we act out certain parts from the book (the character jumps so we physically jump) — making the together time a physical activity thing supporting him to stay grounded in the physical (so it’s not just all mental like reading and looking at pictures) but combining the mental, physical and potential education for him.

By supporting V to fulfill his need of attention, this can assist him to settle down within himself and not need so much attention from others, which then lessens consequences. Then additionally V now can move on to fulfill another need that will support him in reaching his utmost potential the more he develops/walks in life.

So for me, I have been shifting my focus to reacting to V to observing V — asking myself what does he NEED, what is his (problematic) behavior showing me that I can support himself with?

I got to apply this point of supporting him when V started to cause conflict between two boys. He kept poking them and being in their space when they were telling him to stop and go away. I used the opportunity to invite V to help me with laundry, since all the other children were busy. V came with me, and I showed him how the dryer works, and had him participate with me in taking the lint off of the lint catcher and putting clothes in the dryer.  We talked and I made sure he was engaged in the task. Once we were finished we went upstairs to look for something, then eventually we went back downstairs where V was more calmer and went to join children drawing.

So, this was a cool point to realize for myself, to shift focus from reacting to understanding – asking myself what does this child need, how can I support him…and find ways to get the child involved mentally and physically by fulfilling his need.  If we as adults practice and apply this consistently for our children, we support them in developing their self-stability, talents and self-awareness.

Thanks for reading.

4. The Problem with School Lunches

 

photo-1445093498563-4ba5fecf1bc7My situation is specific since I work in a private kindergarten, so I will write from that starting point:

Children and school staff are only allowed to eat the lunch the chef prepares for everyone. The food is specifically vegetarian as well. Any outside food is really not welcomed since it can cause a distraction and does not fit in with the school community rules. Unless of course, one has serious health issues or food intolerances written on a note from a doctor, then they can bring their own food.

Customized food from the chef is not frequently available due to the resources and time to prepare the food.  One of my coworkers is gluten-intolerant, and sometimes the chef has food for her to eat, but other times there isn’t so the teacher has to pick on the other foods (like salad).

For me as a teacher assistant the obligation of having to eat this food is one of the personal problems I have with the school. First because: children are essentially ”forced” to eat food they are served with, and some children don’t like the food at all and refuse to eat, causing conflicts and disagreements between the child and teacher. For me I experience an internal conflict when this happens, because I want to respect the child’s refusal of the food but as my ”job” as the teacher I have to try and make them eat something. 

When a child doesn’t want to eat anything, the teachers and I are not allowed to give that child another type of food or snack  (i.e and apple or banana) because that would influence the other children to want to eat that instead, therefore we as staff we are obligated to either forcibly recommend the child to eat a little piece of the food or just have them sit there and not eat.

Me personally would like to bring my own lunch because some of the food the school presents is heavy in dairy or carbs which is what I don’t like eating in the day (it makes me tired). We have heard complaints from parents themselves of the choice of lunches but despite it nothing has changed. Being a teacher assistant I must be an example to the children, follow the classroom rules and eat what is given to me, even despite my internal dissatisfaction.

These lunch rules really honestly suck in my perspective and I dearly wish that there was the option of children and teachers being able to bring their own food. We would still be able to get that sense of ”community” the school emphasis by sitting with each other, but we have the freedom of choice to eat what the school makes for us, or eat the lunch from home.

In an ideal world, each child and teacher would have the knowledge and awareness of the food that they want and is supportive for their body, and that food would be available for them to eat. Similar like a free-for-all buffet line with an abundant of foods that the child and teacher can freely choose at their will when they are hungry.

How can we as teachers, school staff, parents get to this idealized lunch time for the school participants? Is this even possible?

Yes, it is possible, but it requires a decision by the collective — an agreement with the community and school director, and a responsibility and awareness of the financial needs of food transportation, food availability and what is best for the children and teaching staff. 

3. What Really Goes on in the Classroom?

Q5FJUK9OFHI attended a parent’s evening where the other teachers and I got to give presentations on what we do with the children and answer questions for the parents.

One of the teachers I work with shared a new pattern that has been developing with children in our classroom – and that is children judging and critiquing other children’s work by calling names in a negative sense, like for example a boy saying to another boy’s painting ”that is kitsy kratsy” – an expression basically meaning that work is babyish/like scribble.

When the teacher spoke and acted out the words as the boy (”kitsy kratsy”) at the meeting, the parents in the room laughed.  This was an interesting behavior that I did not expect from them, and perhaps it was because I forgot for a moment that the parents do not get to experience what it’s like in the classroom, and that to see the reality and the outflows when children make fun of each other’s work is actually not funny and we have a as teachers/staff have to deal with it.

Sure it may seem funny when the teacher pretends to be a child and act out the calling of names, but when you’re actually experiencing it by seeing other children say these remarks and comments towards another with the intent of getting some form of attention or to trigger reactions in another child — it’s actually not something to laugh about.  The result of a child crying or becoming upset is not fun to see and experience, and if the parent saw their own child having their work being made fun of/criticized/judged by others I’m sure they would not be laughing too.

One problem from this is how parents/child caretakers are very much separated and unaware of the social interactions that go on in the classroom, and I really think they should be aware of their child’s daily interactions with others because it is through daily interactions children have with the environment and other people that they develop themselves by seeing what is accepted and allowed and ok, and from this act on what they see others do.

If we have parents/teachers/adults allow bullying and name-calling to go on in the environment without intervention, children will continue to do it because they see it as ok.  If we find these things funny and not so serious to deal with, this may damage the child more than we may realize.  But the problem is is that we are not skilled or prepared (as teachers/parents, etc) on how to deal and handle conflict effectively to the point where we can support a child to stop and change a behavior completely that is best for all.  In the classroom I work in, we have intervened, though it has been difficult getting through to the child to stop the behavior/pattern completely — where the child will repeat it the next day. There seems to be an addiction to triggering other’s reactions by name-calling and bullying, and perhaps it is because of the nature we as adults exist in being addicted to the positive and emotional energies of the mind.

So, before I get off track, I’d like to get back to my point and that is how parents/caretakers are not aware of what goes on in the classroom as much as teachers/school staff, and I really think the parents should be aware 100% of how their child is acting in the classroom and interacting with students, because there is only so much teachers can do — we can direct, intervene, share knowledge, but it is really the parents that require to be just as attentive, supportive and aware of how the child is in the classroom because only then can they see what they need to align in themselves and their lives because however and whoever the parent is in their self-expression in how they exist for their child will influence the child, and the child will act according to how they have been brought up and witnessed in their parents and act it out in the classroom (and in life too).

Yet parents have to work to make money/survive and the education system is exactly set up to allow parents to fulfill their daily jobs while the children are taken care of by teachers. I really truly believe the best education a child can receive is from their parents, where parents really show and stand as examples of what it is like to treat others the way they want to be treated and live life in respect of oneself and the world. This to me is ideal, because if the parent is sound and stable in who they are and they through their living actions and words show their child how to live and act, that will influence and strengthen the child positively, that will send ripples throughout the world.

At this time parents and caretakers must go to work and use their time away from their child to perform duties simply to make money to survive. Despite this, there are courses and information parents can read and utilize from the (little) time they may have to assist them in understanding how to take care of oneself and one’s child in thought, word and deed in a way where the ripples of one’s action is a step to making this world a better place.  They can listen to parenting recordings on EQAFE, learn how to live through the power of words, and take a free self-developmental course.

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2. How the Serious can be not so Serious for Children

Today 6 year old T came up to me with a smile on his face and said ”I’m going to destroy the Children’s House.” The Children’s House is the building we are in.  I know T wasn’t serious about this, because I know his antics and his silliness. I don’t know the full story as to what influenced him to speak the statement, but my point within this was how such statements, which are really serious if you look at what the words are implying, were not serious to this child, because he did not actually MEAN it.

I only had a few moments with T before I had to continue with my work, but what I got to fit in with him were some questions like: But what about your brother (who is upstairs in the toddler group)? What’s going to happen to him? T said something like ”ok, I will wait until he finishes school and when I’m a grandpa I will destroy the children’s house” so then I ask but what if you have grandchildren and they want to go to the Children’s house?

My intent was to have T gain some awareness on the impact of his words, that saying something of such nature is actually serious, yet he made it not serious when it is said out of silliness/unawareness. Children may not actually be serious in what they express, but the actual words in the statement can be serious.

Take for example the words ”I’m going to kill you.” This is actually quite serious if you place those words on paper without context, but we use it as an expression of ‘getting back’ at another for what they did to us. If we are not really going to kill the person, then why are we saying it? Is it just an accepted and allowed expression we use without looking at what the words ACTUALLY are? Am I ACTUALLY REALLY going to kill someone? Or is it that I just want them to ”pay” for what they did to me (as a form of revenge)?

Did you know on average there is one murder PER HOUR in El Salvador? That means people actually LIVE and APPLY the words ”I’m going to kill you” and kill/murder people. This is why I firmly believe we need to be careful with what we say, to stop using expressions that support abuse, and harm onto others , and instead use expressions that communicate exactly what we mean, that in some way supports ourselves and others.  The School of Ultimate Living is my favorite example of the type of education we all need to make sure our words are aligned in support of ourselves and our life.

There are so many things to consider and look at when it comes to what we express, and the words we use when we communicate with others. Obviously if we as adults are not serious or aware about the words we are using, our children will pick that up and live it out too.

 

Additional Info:

Parenting – Perfecting the Human Race – Natural Learning ability of the Physical Dissected

School of Ultimate Living – Develop Your Utmost Potential

EQAFE.com – Self Perfection Merchandise

DIP Lite – Free Self-Development/Self-Empowerment Course

Desteni.org – Extraordinary information on human consciousness

 

 

an eye for an eye kindergarten insights

1. An Eye for an Eye

Today a situation happened where T came to J and bothered her while she was reading. Because J was bothered, she became upset and took the paper crown that T was holding and tore it up.  Obviously, T became upset.  Unfortunately I saw only the after-effect, where I could hear T crying and asked him what happened. When I asked J why did she rip up T’s paper crown she said ”because he did this..”

Another situation happened today where V called F names and F reacted by hitting V.  Even though it was a different situation than what happened to T and J, the behavior and outcome was the same: The child receiving an action they didn’t like/was unpleasant ”retaliated” immediately by hitting or doing something equally as harmful.

Therefore, today the point of ”an eye for an eye” is what I’d like to share in this post. ”An eye for an eye” comes from a Bible reference, and according to Wikipedia, it is the law of retaliation — the principle that a person who has injured another person is to be penalized to a similar degree, or in softer interpretations, the victim receives the [estimated] value of the injury in compensation.

Within my 9 months working at this school what has been shown to me is that there is a tendency for children to fight back and/or retaliate equally when they are harmed in some way by another child. Not every child acts like this, of course, but this behavior is common and obvious in the classroom.

When I look at the word ‘retaliate’ what comes up in me is war, and how children, when they act out in retaliation, they fight against each other in that moment as if in war, yet they are unaware of the consequence because they act out in emotion.  In war usually the different sides want the other to experience a certain way due to the extent of emotion the other has to them, whether of anger, hate, etc — which is why they set off bombs and use weapons. However in this case I am showing that children who act out against in each in harming each for for the sake of ”getting back for what another has done to them” is just like war where for example one country is has been harmed by another country and wants to ”fight back” for the sake of what? So the other country can FEEL/EXPERIENCE what they did to another.Unfortunately by repeating this act of ”an eye for an eye,” whether as an individual or country only fuels this pattern, and no long-term solution can be found.

The other teachers and I in the classroom must repeatedly remind the children how we don’t accept and allow this ”eye for an eye”/ retaliation behavior, and we provide tips on what to do next time (ie: say STOP, or get a teacher) but it ends up going in one ear and out the other (meaning- they don’t integrate it/live in their reality and keep repeating the behavior).  Perhaps this is because it is difficult for the child to control themselves when in emotion, where it is so easy to act out and hit another/make another feel equally as bad.

For children, placing shoes in another is difficult because they are young and haven’t developed the skill yet. For us adults, with living on this planet for several years, interacting with people, being aware of what’s going on in the world, we can more easily do this, but it is a decision we must make, to practice/imagine being in the shoes of another and act in accordance to that, and some of us don’t want to step in the shoes of another for fear of realizing that what we are doing to another is not cool and we wouldn’t like it done unto us…and yet it is so much easy to remain ignorant and continue living our lives in self-interest/unawareness…

It is so easy to fight back, to yell back, to respond back in emotion, but the consequences are much worse than if we were to step back, breathe, assess the situation, and see how to direct the situation that is best for both parties.  It is challenging to do this when you are in the face of conflict where you for example are so overwhelmed in emotion you would like nothing better to do than to let that other person know and experience how you feel… just realize that if you allow yourself to ‘give into’ this desire of an ‘eye for an eye’ — acting out in self-interest in spite of another, you are actually fueling the pattern of retaliation and war not only in yourself and personal life, but your very actions also support and show that retaliation on a global scale is ok too.

What we accept and allow on a personal level is reflected on a global level. The more we allow war with each other through fights, conflicts and ‘getting back’ to each other in spite, the more we allow such things to happen on a global scale, like war between countries.

What I suggest for us as teachers, educators, parents and adults to do is to become aware of where we are spiting others, and even where we spite ourselves/go into conflict with ourselves — where we judge ourselves, hate ourselves, beat ourselves up when we don’t reach certain expectations…these patterns we exist in get influence and transfer onto our children.

So, hey everyone, let’s look out for these harmful patterns and empower ourselves to become something better by using tools of self-purification: purifying ourselves from the war and destruction within and towards each other.  We can for example identify the problems that compromise ourselves and our lives, forgive ourselves and script a new way of living.

 

Additional Info:

School of Ultimate Living – Develop Your Utmost Potential

EQAFE.com – Self Perfection Merchandise

DIP Lite – Free Self-Development/Self-Empowerment Course

Desteni.org – Extraordinary information on human consciousness