The first month of school sets the tone for the entire year. That’s why so many teachers put lots of time and energy into establishing daily routines, explaining school rules, and practicing classroom procedures. It’s just as important to focus on the attitudes that will make each day rewarding for both kids and teachers. But how do you present attitudes in a way that appeals to children without being didactic? We suggest you let nature be the teacher.
With a light touch especially suited to children, Wonderful Nature, Wonderful You explores lessons from nature that encourage children to do and be their best. Here are few specific examples:
Cooperation—With a bold illustration, simple text explains that gorillas only fight when they need to protect themselves. Most of the time they would rather be peaceful and play. On the facing page, children get a gentle message about cooperation.
“You, too, can decide what’s important to make a fuss about and what isn’t. Probably you’ll discover that most of the time, things work out better when you find a way to get along.”
Acceptance—In our fast-paced world, changes are always happening. A caterpillar becoming a butterfly is a wonderful example that change is constantly happening in nature—and often change can be beautiful.
“You may not understand why a change happens to you. You may not like it. But look for something good about the change, and you might find it.”
Confidence—Children (adults, too) can fall into the trap of comparing themselves to others. In nature, fish don’t try to grow feathers because birds have them. Tigers have stripes, leopards have spots, and lions don’t have either. Sometimes we need a reminder to be confident.
“There will always be people who can do things you can’t, or who have things you don’t. You have your own special gifts. What do you think they are?”
Other attitudes supported by the book include: confidence, integrity commitment, empathy, and tolerance. A great activity for the first week of school is having kids illustrate posters of the book’s lessons. Then refer the posters when appropriate. For example:
- Before a test you might remind students, “Always do the best you can.”
- Before recess, “Don’t worry about what happened yesterday, or what might happen tomorrow. Just play with all your heart.”
- If a child is feeling frustrated, “Life isn’t always fair. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you want them to. Don’t blame someone else, and don’t blame yourself, either. Just try again.”
The book concludes with a child’s footprints on a sandy beach with these words,
“Your footprints let others see that you were there. You also leae footprints people can’t see but often can feel. When you are kind, where you helpful or patient, or when you share, you leave footprints that feel good other people and to yourself. What kinds of footprints do you want to leave at home, at school, and other places you go? You can choose.”