Volunteering in a classroom is one of my favourite parts of the school year. Helping with those small tasks when I’ve got an extra day, reading with the kids and just having a small part in witnessing them ‘get it’. Spending time in a kindergarten and grade one classroom, I’ve also learned a lot about kids and picked up techniques that help me to deal with ‘one of those days’ in parenting.
1/ “You get what you get, you don’t get upset”
Teachers have all sorts of these little sayings. This one has applied to everything from not getting the last ‘brownie’ clif bar and having to deal with ‘iced oatmeal’ to explaining about the fact that you don’t generally get to choose the gender of your unborn child.
2/ The clapping thing
There’s this thing Olivia’s teacher does when the classroom is getting out of hand. She claps. She starts louder, and does it three times, getting softer until the last time. The kids copy the pattern, and copy the volume of the clapping. When things get loud at home, the first thing I think to do is yell. Getting rid of the yelling and finding alternatives like this helps to keep things calmer – and is way more effective than my yelling.
3/ Your kid is more capable than you know
Seriously. Give your kid more credit, because they’re more capable than you realize, than I realized. It’s incredible.
4/ ‘Smell the flowers’
Last year, I witnessed something amazing. A teacher had a class of 20+ crazy kindergarten kids who left me needing a glass of wine at the end of the morning, calmed down an entire class, in a semi-darkened room by leading them in breathing experiences. Now, when Olivia’s crazy at home and I feel myself ready to shout a calm-the-f-down, I try to encourage her to ‘smell the flowers’, breathe deep, blow them away. You know what? It’s even better when you follow your own advice and smell the flowers.
5/ Use your lights, not your voice
Instead of yelling (like you know that I struggle with), try flickering the lights or having some sort of system so you don’t have to use your voice – or lose your voice. It’s one of those “Wow, why didn’t I think of that?” kind of things – and something that I use regularly, when it’s not wicked bright outdoors. It gets their attention fast.
These kindergarten and first grade teachers? They’re onto something my friend, they’re incredible.