How amazing is it when your son shows wonderful qualities like appreciation and gratitude? In a new video called “Thankful,” Grade 1 boys steal the show with their charming answers to the question, “What are you thankful for?” (Trust us, they weren’t coached to say things like, “I’m thankful for my arms, to hug my brother.”)
Indeed, this gratitude video is part of an ever-evolving emphasis on character education at the Primary level, explains Grade 1 teacher Christie Gordon. “It’s one thing to talk about being caring and principled, but you can’t just say those words and expect it to happen.”
The boys produced the video themselves on iPads and will screen it at the fourth annual Blue Ties Breakfast this Friday, April 25, an event which honours something they’re all appreciative of — their relationships with fathers and other special friends. Upper School students got a preview of the video as part of Mental Health Week when Grade 7 students Henry Gage and Raphael Berz did a presentation about mindfulness at an assembly on April 17.
Other examples of character education in action at the Prep involve creative ways to discharge negative emotions before they explode, says Gordon. She employs a “sparkle jar,” basically oil-suspended sequins in a Mason jar. If a student feels anger rising, he would shake the jar before reacting. Likewise, she uses Tibetan singing bells which have a long resonating ring, and regular 30-minute yoga sessions for the boys to invoke calm. As well, there’s a poster wall with a sign that says “Be a bucket filler.” When a boy collects a forgotten knapsack for another, for example, the good deed is acknowledged with a note in the good-doer’s basket.
The impact from all these emotion regulation strategies has been immense, says Gordon. “They’re calmer, they listen longer and they understand that their behaviour has an impact on everyone. The boys are here for eight hour s a day. That’s a lot of time we have to get these values across.”