Thursday, November 26, 2015

Lavish, Magnanimous, Munificent, Ungrudging Giving of Time and Money called Generosity

Generosity is something we all need in our lives. It's a natural progression of kindness and caring for one other. Our acts of kindness activity at the school this past month really took off. The students received a footprint that they put up on the wall, leaving a trail of kindness. 

To build on this enthusiasm, we are extending the acts of kindness for another month and adding acts of generosity. It's important to note that generosity isn't only about giving money or making a donation of some form, but it also includes acts of service and giving of our time. So we are encouraging the students to practice their generosity  and collect a hand print, which they will put their name on and the generous action they performed. Each classroom will have different colored hands and as they collect the hand prints, they will place them on a wall in the gymnasium in the shape of a Christmas Tree. When the parents arrive for the Christmas concert later in December they will see the visual of the Christmas tree made from all the generous acts of the students. This is just one activity that we will do to promote the virtue of generosity within the school.

Here a few practicing generosity ideas for home or the classroom

Give Away the Extras

At our home, we have had a longstanding practice that every time you bought a new piece of clothing, you gave something away from your closet. Otherwise, we found that we just began to accumulate too much stuff. So here's a game you can play with your kids,  “What do we have extra that we could share?” Go through your stuff at home and if you haven't worn it or used it in a year or even in 6 months, give it away to a local charity.

Some examples include:

  • Food – take some food to the Food Bank,
  • Clothing – pack up clothes that have been outgrown or not being worn, and give them to a charity or needy family,
  • Blankets and other household items – many inner-city ministries make home starter kits for those in need,
  • Toys – many organizations collect toys for underprivileged children.
Acts of Service

It's important to note that generosity isn't only about giving gifts, or money, it is also about giving your time. So it's important to think of different ways in which we can help someone out with our acts of service. Make a gift for someone – a card, cookies or a care package – and pay them a visit.

Have the kids make something for someone else. Ask yourself, "is there someone who needs to be encouraged by a gift or a visit from us?” Maybe it will be creating a card for a relative, baking cookies for the homeless, making a care package for someone in need, or spending time with a widow who struggles with loneliness. 

Fun with Generosity

I think one of the things children and even adults struggle understanding is what it means to be generous. Generous is defined as showing a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected. The word comes from the Latin, Generosus, which means to be magnanimous or lavish kindness on others. So to illustrate this, have the kids make ice cream sundaes or decorate monster cookies for other members of the family, being generous with the toppings.

Each family member makes a sundae for someone else in the family. Put out ice cream and a variety of toppings, and allow your children to be generous in making sundaes for other family members. You can also do this with “monster cookies,” which are oatmeal cookies filled with numerous additions like nuts, chocolate chips, sprinkles, etc. Family members can make monster cookies for designated family members, decorating each other's cookies generously. 

When it's all said and done, talk about it with the kids and ask them to explain how being generous with the toppings can translate into being generous in everyday living.

Habits of Sharing

During meals and while you are visiting with others, model how to share treats and be specific about encouraging your children to share.

Some fun ideas include:

Sharing your dessert with your spouse or children and say something like, “This ________ is so much sweeter because I shared it with you.”

A family tradition you could start is that when treats, desserts, etc. are given out, whoever divides the treat allows the other to choose which part of the treat they would like. For example, one child breaks the chocolate bar in half, then lets the other choose which half they would like.

Demonstrate sharing without being asked. Provide extra treats for your children to take when going on outings with friends so they can practice sharing and being generous.

While driving, use these questions for conversation starters:
  • How do you feel when someone else has a treat and you don’t?
  • How do you feel when someone is playing with a neat toy and does not share it?
  • How does it make you feel when someone shares a special treat with you?
  • How about when someone gives you first choice of which toy to play with?
These are just a few ideas about teaching generosity to our children.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Time to Practice...No...Live Out Our Kindness

It doesn't matter where you go, there’s always a bully, that’s not to excuse it, but state the facts. The idea of bullying is not a new concept. We've all had our own experiences with bullying. I’m sure if we sat down and had a chat about our childhoods, we would have stories to share about being picked on in school. School was a difficult experience for me because I was by nature a very gentle and kind individual.  It didn’t help that I was a red-haired, freckled face boy growing up. I’m not sure why people naturally gravitate towards targeting the gingers. But they do! Then add to that my teeth were a mess. I broke my jaw when I was 4 yrs. old,  and my teeth came in all over the place. So I had braces for five years during school. Many a school picture had me barely smiling, because I didn’t want anyone to see my teeth or later on my braces. However, I survived with a few bumps and bruises along the way.

My mother always said that if I saw somebody hurting or have a need I was the first one to offer to give them the shirt off my back if that would help. Maybe I'm too trusting or always trying to see the good in people, but I have found over the years that it is easy for people to take advantage of me because of my kind nature. I dislike seeing people hurting. I think that's why I like being a teacher so much because when I see students coming from difficult situations I want to help. I can't always fix things or make things right but I can at least show some kindness and care for the students. My hope is that with a little bit of care and compassion I can make a student’s life a little bit better. So when I hear about bullying in school it is certainly something that we want to address at the school level. But rather than focus on bullying or anti-bullying, we try to focus on the virtue of kindness. We do so because when we only point out the negative or what behavior we don't want to see it doesn’t call our students to the practice of the virtue that we want to see from them. Rather than saying to a child, “Stop bullying,” we ask the students to be kind to one another. What does a child learn when we only point out mistakes or failures or what isn't working rather asking what it is we want from them.

The flipside of this also is that if we want to see more kindness we need to model it for them as well. It's so important that we speak to our children and students in a way that builds them up and encourages them to do the right things rather than pointing out all the things that they don't do right. This doesn't necessarily come easy or naturally for us as human beings because we’re inundated with such negative messages around us, so we find it easy to criticize and put others down. So if we want our children or students to practice kindness, we as adults need to do our part as well. So Nov 13th is World Kindness Day. Let’s be kind to one another.