As human beings we are hardwired to connect. We communicate all day everyday. Through our words and our actions. We are continually providing a feedback response, to any and all events and occurrences that we are faced and surrounded by. The feedback we give, whether consciously or unconsciously, will provide a positive or negative influence. This week within our Be Strong team we have been talking about our own communication style and the hows, whats and whys of communication.
How can we better ourselves at communicating?
How can we encourage communication?
What are we trying to communicate?
Why are we trying to communicate in this why?
Our Answer : Affective Statements
A personal expression of feeling in response to others' positive or negative behaviors" - Laura Mirsky
Everything around them is exciting, new, an opportunity to know "why?" The world is their oyster and they are starving for the pearl; they are voracious in their appetites to "know".
Kids are so curious; they want to know how everything works, why does it work that way and how did it get that way. They love to be in the know, especially if they are the "first" to know. And then they cannot wait to share what they know with everyone they come in contact with. And this new knowledge never gets old! But it does get bigger because kids always want to know more about this new thing they have learned. Some will ask for books about the subject of their curiosity, they will ask to Google it and they will ask anyone who they meet who may look like they might have some knowledge on the subject: "What do you know about...?" When you tell them what you know, they listen. They really listen and you can see them thinking about every word you are saying and dissecting it and examining it. And then it happens; they ask "Why?"
"Why" then brings out the Philosophers inside them. The suppositions and imaginings of a five year old are nothing short of genius. They are creative in their thinking and can create scenarios that are so far "outside the box" of any adult that if you allowed yourself to jump on their train of thought, you would actually see that this kid is AMAZING! The WORLD is amazing! Every thing that happens in our daily lives that we take for granted or do without even thinking about anymore is absolutely fascinating to a five year old. Like, why does a balloon "get squishy" (or, shrink) when it is taken outside in to the cold and then gets "fat" again when you bring it inside? The question is formed from accurate and astute observation. And the child is completely energized when you tell him that it is because of the molecules inside staying close together and moving slower in the cold and so the balloon deflates, or gets smaller. And then he wants to know what the molecules do when they get warm and so you tell him that the molecules move faster and spread out and they fill up the balloon again. By this time he is so totally taken in by the thought of MOLECULES that he is almost beside himself with curiosity and excitement. And from there, the sky is the limit!
Five year olds have a great perspective on fairness and equality. When you are five, everyone else who is five is just the same as you. You are five, I am five, we are the same. They do not exclude one another based on skin colour or appearance. They do not discriminate based on religion or how much money your mommy and daddy make. If you have a new toy that they do not have, they are happy for you and tell you so. They are more honest and just in their exclusion of a peer. If you take my toy, I will take it back and I will not play with you. If you hurt me, I may hurt you back, but I will definitely not play with you. If you are not willing to share or play by the rules, you cannot play with me. If you tell me you are sorry, I will forgive you and we will be friends again. We encourage children to "play nice" and "be fair", but they already know how to do that. Just watch five year olds interact with one another; they do not need an adult to tell them what is fair or right. They know. And they will advocate for themselves and their friends very effectively. It's the adults in the room that could learn from the children and their intrinsic knowledge of what is fair and just.
Being in the company of five year olds is best when you allow your self to become five again. See the world through their eyes, ask the "silly" questions, colour outside the lines, draw an imaginary creature from the planet Kookoohead. Make paper airplanes and fly them. Build towers with blocks and then knock them down. Eat chocolate pudding with your fingers. When your friend tells a knock knock joke with no punch line, laugh. Laugh from your belly, laugh from your toes because burps and farts are HILARIOUS! And boogers are gross, but can be tasty (I don't eat mine, but I know they should be named a food group for some kids).
For me, spending time with five year olds is a guarantee that I will experience joy and wonderment again. The world will become a magical place, even if just for awhile. I will feel hopeful for the future. Everything seems brighter, lighter and shinier after I have been in the company of a five year old. They are truly a gift and ,I myself, am grateful for them.
Better Than Carrots or Sticks
Restorative Practices for Positive Classroom Management
By Dominique Smith, Douglas B FIsher and Nancy E Frey
Restoring Safe School Communities
A whole School Response to Bullying, Violence and Alienation
By Brenda Morrison
The Restorative Practices Handbook
For Teachers , Disciplinarians and Administrators
By Bob Costello and Joshua Watchel and Ted Watchel
Implementing Restorative Practices in Schools
A Practical Guide to Transforming School Communities
By Margaret Thorsborne and Peta Blood
A Practical Introduction to Restorative Practices in Schools
Theory Skills and Guidance
By Bill Hansberry
The Little Book of Restorative Justice in Education
Fostering Responsibility, Healing and Hope in Schools
By Katherine Evans and Dorthy Vaanderbring
**Little gem of a book
Empowering Voices for Student Success
Embedding Restorative Practices and Circle Process in School Culture
By Catherine Wills and Lorayne Bradshaw
*Local Book by Upper Canada District School Board
Available online in PDF
Staff, volunteers and clients all participate in creating content for our blog. We all believe in the powerful impact Restorative Justice and Restorative Practices can have in nurturing a vibrant and connected community with healthy relationships across the community.