By Jennifer Bateman, Prevention Specialist
Our Prevention Services staff just wrapped up a three-month session of Second Step, which provides social and emotional training for little ones. In the last sessions, we helped more than 90 children learn about their emotions and to handle those times when these emotions become too big for their bodies.
Children learned calming techniques and empathy skills in Second Step. They learned how to be proud of who they are and of their abilities. And they learned that they have the right to happiness and that no one has the right to tear them down physically or emotionally.
In addition to the Second Step curriculum we use other books and materials to help our lessons make a bigger impact on our students. We have recently fell in love with a series of books by author Diane Alber.
Ms. Alber writes about empathy, inclusion, racism, self-concept and positive self-image. One book that the children especially liked was the book "I Am NOT Just A Scribble." This is a story about kindness and inclusion.
Scribble, the book's main character, never thought he was different until he met his first drawing. Then, after being left out because he didn't look like everyone else, Scribble teaches the drawings how to accept each other for who they are. Which enables them to create amazing art.
When we teach a lesson we try to engage all of the senses, sight, sound, touch etc. This is especially important for our students that English is not their first language. To this end we came up with a very unique art project. Each child was able to make their own Scribble, just like the main character in the book. With a little glue, a black marker and a few googly eyes we were able to help each child turn their Scribble into a beautiful and meaningful Scribble person.
The smiles on the children's faces were electric. I was then told by one of my more assertive 3 year old friends, "Ms. Jennifer you need to be a Scribble too." So this little girl, who I believe will grow up to rule the world, drew me a Scribble and sat beside me as I turned her Scribble into my own piece of art. Her only condition was that my Scribble had to have glasses.
We love to go out each week to visit and facilitate groups with our students. It is a labor of love and hopefully we a leaving behind a legacy of wellness. An ounce of Prevention is worth a pound of the cure.