September is also when we began teaching monthly guidance lessons in every first and second grade classroom. During our September guidance lessons, we introduced (or re-introduced) ourselves to students and reviewed what the school counselors do at Lunt (such as teach classroom guidance lessons, lead small groups for students, help individual students). Afterward, students learned about “making connections” – finding common interests with other kids. This is a simple but important skill that students can utilize when trying to make new friends, whether in the classroom, on the playground, after school program, or neighborhood. We ended the lessons with a fun activity in which students had to find other kids in their class who shared common interests.
October: Problem Solving Strategies (First Grade) and “Thumbs Up” Behaviors (Second Grade)
In October, first grade students learned about the “Problem Solving Pond” and peaceful problem solving strategies, such as sharing, taking turns, using “I feel” messages, talking it out and compromise. All students were given the opportunity to participate in role plays demonstrating each of these problem solving strategies.
Second grade students learned about respectful behaviors, which we also call “thumbs up” behaviors. After we read The Brand New Kid by Katie Couric, students brainstormed all the “thumbs down” behaviors they’ve been noticing in our school that need to be turned into “thumbs up” behaviors. Students then worked in pairs to create posters about “thumbs up” behaviors which were then posted throughout the school to inspire respectful behaviors in others. Students used a lot of thumbs up behaviors while collaborating with their partners on their posters.
As a follow-up resource for parents, here's a good article about teaching children to be respectful by modeling respect: Children and Respect
November: Anger Management Strategies (First Grade) and Problem Solving Strategies (Second Grade).
In November, first grade students learned about anger management strategies. We read the book When Sophie Gets Angry, Very, Very Angry by Molly Bang. Students then brainstormed what Sophie did when she got angry, and what they (students) do when they get angry. We talked about how some things people do when they get angry makes the anger bigger, and some things they do makes the anger smaller. We ended up with a list of only strategies that make anger smaller. Each student then created an “anger plan” – which included an illustrated statement about what they could do to make their anger smaller. Students were also given a copy of the “Anger Rules” to take home:
The Anger Rules
It’s ok to feel angry, but…
- Don’t hurt yourself.
- Don’t hurt others.
- Don’t hurt property, but
- DO talk about it!
Second grade students learned about three conflict resolution strategies in November:
- Ask Questions and Listen.
- Use your words (this could include using an “I feel” message).
- Try different ideas (which could include taking turns, sharing, compromise).
Students were then given an opportunity to role play these strategies in order to demonstrate how they might be used on the playground, on the bus, in the cafeteria, classroom or at home. Each classroom was given a small poster with these problem solving strategies, and each student was given a copy to take home.
The December classroom guidance topic for both first and second grade was friendship. First grade students learned about making friends, how to be a good friend, and sharing friends. They each completed a page with the sentence starter “I am a good friend because I….”, and then illustrated their completed sentence. We will put the pages together into a “friendship book” for each class.
Second grade students learned about “Attractor” (positive) and “Repellor” (negative) behaviors, and how these behaviors affect friendships in a positive or negative way. We talked about how we’re responsible for our own behaviors and we need to remember how our choices affect other people, and the way they see us as friends. Students then paired up and played a Bingo-like game using attractor and repellor behavior. A fun but enlightening way to end December!
As a follow-up resource for parents, here's a very interesting article: Having Friends, Making Friends, and Keeping Friends: Relationships as Educational Contexts, which begins:
"Peer relations contribute substantially to both social and cognitive development and to the effectiveness with which we function as adults. Indeed, the single best childhood predictor of adult adaptation is not school grades, and not classroom behavior, but rather, the adequacy with which the child gets along with other children."
This helps explain why we put so much effort into fostering positive friendship/social skills and peer relationships. Click the link above to read the full article.
For a complete list of our first and second classroom guidance curriculum, please click on the appropriate links to the right of this blog.