Author: ''Virgo''

13. Our Reactions are Funny Facial Expressions to Kids

jose-ibarra-297117I was inspired by a video clip of a father making funny faces to his baby and the baby was laughing hysterically.

This reminder me of a time when I did something similar with a three year old – where I would make these random silly faces and the boy would laugh hysterically. 

The faces I made where exaggerated expressions – emphasized expressions of surprise, fear, silliness. I would in the moment really use / push my face to intensely express myself and to provoke laughs.

From this, I had been looking at how we as adults probably do look ridiculous when we go into reactions – how what we experience inside is translated and seen on the outside through our facial expressions and body language.  Like for example anger – how we can pull our face down, our brow furrows, we go into a deep frown. If we freeze it it may actually look hilarious / funny, just as if we were in a state of extreme fear. How our eyes bulge out wide, our mouth drop open – it can look really funny to a child.

Perhaps when we go into these emotional experiences we do “look” funny because maybe what we are going through is silly / funny — For example getting angry at a spill on our shirt, or being stubborn and saying you know how to do something when you don’t. So little things like that can be silly if we really look at it — especially if they are small / futile things that really don’t matter. 

 

Recommended Resources:

DIP Lite – Free Self-Development Course

EQAFE.com – Self-Perfection Merchandise

School of Ultimate Living – Life Creation through Words

 

Additional Support:

Parenting – Perfecting the Human Race

Extraordinary Parenting: Leila Zamora Moreno

Teacher’s Journey to Life with Anna Brix Thomsen

12. Being Present with Children

janko-ferlic-303881I find kids to be a great cross-reference for me to show me whether I am here, present with them or in my mind – if for example I’m allowing myself to go into worries and fears and concerns instead of being here with them…

I would for example be sitting and not realizing time has gone by and I was in my head until a child comes up and asks me a question. I realize  whoa wait – what did I miss? Where did the time go by? This is a serious point because time goes by and if our attention is placed around problems we keep thinking, obsessing and focusing about, we are allowing our reality and our kids to ”go on by” without our attention, guidance and direction – and in some cases our inattention and unawareness of what is going around us can create consequences in reality we don’t want to experience.

Kids are also exceptionally great at testing you for real-time change. There was a specific moment where I was not happy in how I interacted with a parent. I wish I could have said and done something better and I dipped into this low-experience of judging myself but soon enough kids came into my presence and ”interrupted” me from this experience – rattling me out of the mood, present, physical, needing me HERE with them.  I saw this very clearly the distinction of what matters – what matters is for me to be present, here, stable with the kids. They are what matters. They need an adult ”here” in reality because they are here in reality.

I’d say you really see who you are and where you place importance when you are with kids. Kids are very physical, very ”in-tune” with themselves and their bodies. They don’t think or have so many thoughts like us – they live in the present, they express themselves unconditionally, they are HERE in reality, and they will naturally interrupt or snap us back to reality with their questions, their need of our presence, their tugs at our arm or a grab of our hand… THEY NEED US and so we need to BE THERE for them.

Suggested Steps to Assist in Remaining Present with Children:

  • Acknowledge what we are so pre-occupied with in our heads (ie: what are the emotions, experiences or unresolved issues you can’t seem to understand or forgive, in fact)
  • Help yourself to find the resources and tools you need to resolve these issues that are unresolved and busy mulling around in your head. Match the emotions to specific memories and walk forgiveness to release yourself, gain clarity and realizations. These personal issues you have can take up so much space and energy in your self and body to the point where it’s hard to stay present with the kids. Kids need you to be present here with them, just as you would have liked your parents/adults to be present and with you when you were a kid.
  • Be consistent in supporting yourself, taking care of yourself and resolving points in you on a daily, moment-by-moment basis to ensure you keep your body and self working properly, steady, and strong.

 

Recommended Resources:

DIP Lite – Free Self-Development Course

EQAFE.com – Self-Perfection Merchandise

School of Ultimate Living – Life Creation through Words

 

Additional Support:

Parenting – Perfecting the Human Race

Extraordinary Parenting: Leila Zamora Moreno

Teacher’s Journey to Life with Anna Brix Thomsen

11. If I tell the kids something they don’t want to do = I am mean

brandon-morgan-16639Belief: If I tell the kids something they don’t want to do = I am mean

Context: Telling the kids they have to clean up after themselves from the items/they took out for themselves, especially when it’s ”crunch time” and we need to be somewhere soon. From them there is resistance, temper tantrums, avoidances, and big ”no!”s I think/believe I am not a nice person (but mean) if I tell them to do something they don’t want to do. Yet these kids needs to be aware of our schedule, that at a certain time of day we have to clean up everything to move onto the next thing in our schedule effectively.

Additional note: Perhaps the kids don’t know or realize the responsibility, reasons/purpose as to why we need to clean up.  Even if they do realize/see, and still fight/resist cleaning up they have to do. These kids are placed in an environment by/through the parents and are given no choice about it. That means they also have to follow the rules of this environment, but if the rules are in alignment with what is best for all – then it’s a great training ground for them to practice living with others effectively.

Self-Forgiveness: 

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to believe that if I tell kids to do something they don’t want to do then I am mean

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to believe that when a kid doesn’t want to do something – such as cleaning up after themselves it means I am a mean teacher instead of realizing the child resisting the task has nothing to do with me but the relationship the child has formed toward the task and thus it is part of my responsibility to work with the child in having them release the resistance they have formed with/toward the task

I commit myself to find ways/means/methods to support children through resistances they have towards tasks, such as cleaning up after themselves so that they can find joy in everything they do

I forgive myself that I have NOT accepted and allowed myself to clarify with the children why we need to clean up – why it benefits all of us on an individual and collective level, illustrating through words or pictures the value and benefits of taking responsibility and putting back/cleaning up what you use has on a person in the long-run

I commit myself to educate, share and explain the benefits and importance of taking care of what we use and putting it away/cleaning it up properly

I commit myself to live the word CARE for my environment – caring for the items in my home and environment by taking care of them properly

I forgive myself that I have NOT accepted and allowed myself to find ways to make cleaning up fun for the children – such as putting on music, or making a game, or picking the jobs out of a hat, or having us live a word like ”Slowing Down” with cleaning where our movements are slow…using various ways and methods to be creative in the moment with what we do and not just stay limited in cleaning up/doing a task one way

I commit myself to make chores/errands in my life more enjoyable by listening to music, or finding some other creative method to enjoy what I’m doing more

I commit myself to make clean up time fun/enjoyable for the kids by putting on music, having us live a word, making a game out of it

I commit myself to educate the kids on why we need to clean up at a certain time, and what are the consequences if we don’t clean up at a certain time

Within this I realize just because kids don’t like something I say doesn’t mean I am a mean person or certain person but that there is a negative relationship they have towards the task/what I just said.  It’s also important I check in me to see if I have any resistance to doing tasks, and to make sure when there is resistance I sort it out or push through it, because if I allow resistance in me with doing tasks and don’t do them, how can I support children through it?

 

Additional Support:

Parenting – Perfecting the Human Race

Extraordinary Parenting: Leila Zamora Moreno

Teacher’s Journey to Life with Anna Brix Thomsen

10. Tantrummy Fits with Clean-Up Time

delfi-de-la-rua-157488I got the opportunity to run my own classroom downstairs where I work with 6-7 children for about 3 hours, 5 days a week. It may not seem like a lot of time with them, but for me it is. These moments are filled with spontaneous activity, new ideas, activities, discussions, learning – every day is new and unpredictable, so in a way I have to roll with it yet keep to a structure as best as I can.

Something interesting came up today, was from my fourth day working here I noticed the tendency of not wanting to bother to ask or request or tell the kids they need to clean up after themselves. I just didn’t want to – I was too damn scared. I was too scared for the idea and the reality of possibility facing their cries, their resistances, their temper tantrums, their ”no’s…” because I have encountered this, there are certain children who have developed the perfect tonality and expression and behavior to manipulate adults to get their way, and I’m one of those adults who have not been able to as of yet find a way to stand through the manipulation and temper tantrums. I have instead cowered to this fear and did the dirty work myself as I allowed me to clean up after them while they read, talked, drew pictures.

This is exactly how my mother treated me – she did everything for me, I didn’t do a lick of work and perhaps this is because my mom knew if she had me do chores and errands I would throw emotional tantrummy fits, manipulating to get my way. Funny how life works this way where I am now in my mother’s position acting just like her.

How do I change this?

  1. When I go back to the classroom I am going to hold a circle time right before we need to do our chores/clean up tasks and explain why we need to clean up, the importance of it, how it supports everyone, how it builds character, etc.
  2. Second is to work on my own fears of being manipulated by children / people – cause if I am being manipulated I am still brainwashed – only people who are not brainwashed do not get swayed in their minds with emotions and thoughts but know exactly who they are and what they stand for. This means I am still allowing my own thoughts and emotions to manipulate me instead of understanding why I so easily succumb to these specific thoughts/emotions.

 

Additional Support:

Parenting – Perfecting the Human Race

Extraordinary Parenting: Leila Zamora Moreno

Teacher’s Journey to Life with Anna Brix Thomsen

 

 

9. Hidden Messages Behind Popular Children’s Stories

x4kaajg0tmu-aaron-burdenI read the story The Gingerbread Man to children. This is a holiday book that is read during the Christmas season. 

Basically, a grandmother was hungry, made some cookies, and when she took the cookies out of the oven, a gingerbread man pops out and runs away because he doesn’t want to be eaten. The entire story is all about the gingerbread man running away from children and animals until he ”befriends” a fox by a lake. The fox cunningly invites the Gingerbread man on his back so he can take him across the lake. The Gingerbread, innocent and obviously gullible, goes on the fox’s back and gives in to the fox’s lies until he is eventually eaten.

The children find this story funny – but I found elements in this children’s book that were a disturbing:

–> First point: the Gingerbread – (yes – magically ) birthed into a living being, experiences his first moments of life in hostility where despite the Gingerbread Man wanting to live (ie: ”don’t eat me!”) people refuse his request and run after him – wanting to eat him  when the Gingerbread Man wanted to live.

–> Second point: that the Gingerbread man’s death is due to the cunning and sly deception of the fox – who at first seemed trustworthy in wanting to help the Gingerbread Man, but ended up at the last moment eating him – and in the illustration, the Gingerbread Man’s face is in fear. 

Yes it is a story – but if you look behind the words and pretty pictures, it’s really a screwed up story that makes death and deception something entertaining for the kids. The being (Gingerbread man) came into the world with the intention to live yet was immediately threatened because everyone wanted to eat him, instead of being born into a world where individuals (humans and animals) welcome and nurture him.  

Similar elements are found in real life – like a child being born in a war-torn country, or an abusive household, –once the baby born, they are threatened with real-life problems. 

So, how can a story like The Gingerbread Man be an appropriate story for the Holidays, especially Christmas – which is known as the season of ”giving” and celebrating life (of Christ)? I understand some may react to my words, and find the book funny and entertaining, but I’m the type of person who likes to look beyond the words to see what is really behind it all, and if these words/meanings support our children’s development.

I suggest we as parents/teachers/adults start analyzing the meanings behind the stories we share with our children – those ”hidden messages” we tend to overlook and see how we can instead teach and show how to support each other and life, so that we raise our children within the foundations of supporting life for all.

8. A Sound Environment for Children in the Classroom

sound-enviroment-for-a-child”When is it 2 o’clock?” (pick-up time)

”How many hours until circle time?”

”When is Lunch?”

I’ve been getting individual children asking me these questions shortly after the work session starts (a 3 hour work session where children are encouraged / directed to work with the Montessori materials and activities provided).

At first I was suspicious by their questions, but dropped it and made using the clock fun by showing the children how many hours we have until that time, sometimes making sounds of play as I moved my fingers around the clock, other times I would count the hour when I hit the 12 mark to make the process more interesting.  

Then more children started to individually ask me what time was circle time and what time was lunch time during our work session.

I asked a little boy once if the reason he is asking me is because he wants to go home. He said honestly yes, and I said ”well, what do you do want to do when you go home?” and he said he wanted to play soccer (football) with his dad.

It makes me concerned these children already 10-20 minutes into the morning work session are already wanting to go home. This is a huge problem… Is something going on the environment that is preventing them from enjoying themselves?

In my personal experience, I do find the way things are run in my classroom are not ideal which may contribute to children not being very happy. In this series I will walk through the problems I see and will add in my perspectives on how we can practically change them.

First of all the environment is not ideal – we are in an old building with long rooms, high ceilings and wooden floors on the second floor, so if chairs fall, glasses clink together, chairs scrape against the floor, or someone yells, the sound reverberates and echoes louder than usual. This causes many children and teachers to complain of the noise-volume, which affects stress levels, and disrupts work. When it becomes too loud sometimes teachers becomes angry/emotional and will speak and/or act in this emotion, that ripples in the classroom and affects the children. In some cases a child will cry because of the volume, so we would have to ring the triangle, remind everyone to talk in a quiet voice, but 30 minutes later it becomes loud again. These are ‘’Classroom Acoustic Problems’’ that actually harm a child’s health and learning.

There are a lot of little problems like this that contribute to making the work session environment not ideal/optimum for a child, and it’s really troubling to see children not happy and wanting to go home so early in the morning.

Practically, ideally, we require an environment/space that does not echo nor reverberate sounds for both teachers and children. Children are much more sensitive than us, so if we are going to have them work in an environment for long periods of time, we need to consider the environment and sound levels MUST fit their physical and psychological needs — they are of priority because the intention of school/classroom is FOR them to learn, grow and develop.

One way to fix the issue of tall ceilings that reverberate/echo sound is adding sound eliminator panels on the top of the wall, similar to what this classroom did here because these panels absorb sound very well, thus making the room much quieter and ‘’cosier.’’  If you’re on a budget, you can use cotton panels, which may not be the most attractive looking, but their purpose supersedes that (and children really don’t care what the room looks like). Other solutions can be adding carpets/rugs in the classroom, and more objects on the wall to block sound from bouncing off.

The most important point within this all is that the environment should be in consideration of both the child and teacher/adult’s health and wellbeing that leads/promotes optimum learning, growing and developing.

As my responsibility of a teacher’s assistant in the classroom, I will ask my team if adding panels in the classroom is a possibility, backing up my stance with research and personal examples for support, and will update you on any changes.

Thank you for reading!

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.