Last year we noticed my son liked to goof off. His teachers told me that he knows when to have fun and when to calm down and get work done. Gage either finished his work quickly and started talking, or he would see his friends laughing and being silly and sit and laugh at them. It was something he worked on last year, but we knew it needed to be something he worked on again this year.
His twin sister has had a rough go of friends in school. In her 4 year old preschool class, she had her first taste of "mean girls." No, not nasty or mean-hearted like older girls can be. But she was left out. It happened for a little while and I told her she had to talk to her teacher about it. She did and the teacher put a stop to it. There was one little girl who befriended her and she was able to feel better about it because of this sweet girl. In Kindergarten, it was the same story. She's kind of quiet and reserved around a lot of people. She made one good friend and that was what she needed. Last year, was rough! There are first and second graders in the same class. The older girls weren't very friendly or accepting and most of the first grade girls wanted to be friends with them, so they acted like those girls. Taya did not. She didn't change who she was to be accepted by these girls. Which, we all know as adults is SUCH a great quality!! But that's hard to explain to young kids! She cried about it many times last year, about being left out, feeling lonely at school, and having no friends. It was so hard!
Our next two girls haven't had many years in school and haven't had any issues. They just have trouble letting themselves be themselves around anyone but family.
The first day of school this year was Tuesday. So we had our family home evening on Monday night. This doesn't have to be an FHE, I just made it that way for us! I made the theme for the school year, "Be true to yourself!" I got most of it from what I knew they needed to continue to work on and from this fabulous book!
Chapter 5 is "Be True" and I just fell in love after rereading it. I knew this would really speak to my kids.
At the beginning of this, President Hinckley shared a story from his own childhood. He was a seventh grader, and that meant it was to be his first year of Junior High. Unfortunately, the renovations on the school weren't finished, so the seventh graders were sent back to the elementary where there was enough room. He, and the other boys in his class, were not happy about this. They were too old, too cool, too big for the elementary school. They decided that the next day, they'd send a message by not going to school.
He says, "But we had no place to go. We couldn't stay home, because our mothers would ask questions. We didn't think of going downtown to a show, because in those days we had no money for that. We didn't think of going to the park because we were afraid we would be seen by Mr. Clayton, the truant officer. We didn't think of going out behind the school fence and telling shady stories because we didn't know any. We had never heard of such things as drugs or anything of the kind. So we just wondered around and wasted the day."
I love this! The kids loved that part too. They thought it was so funny that they really had nothing to do and were just so bored! Bored is right...the next day they went back to school..to an unexpected surprise. Their principal, Mr. Stearns, whose "demeanor matched his name" was there to greet them at the front door. He told them that striking was not the way to solve a problem and that they were "expected to be responsible citizens" and should have gone to talk to him if they had a complaint. They were not allowed back until they had a note from their parents.
President Hinckley walked, sheepishly, into his home. His mother immediately asked him what was wrong and he told her what happened the day before. She wrote a note, a very short note, but he said that "it was the most stinging rebuke she ever gave me."
"Dear Mr. Stearns,
Please excuse Gordon's absence yesterday. His action was simply an impulse to follow the crowd."
I cannot not even try to paraphrase his next two paragraphs.
"I have never forgotten my mother's note. Though I had been an active party to the action we had taken, I had resolved then and there that I would never do anything on the basis of simply following the crowd. I determined then and there that I would make my own decisions on the basis of their merits and not be influenced by those around me. I decided that I would be true to whatever I believed to be right.
That decision has blessed my life countless times in countless ways, sometimes in very uncomfortable circumstances. It has kept me from doing some things which, if indulged in, could at worst have resulted in serious trouble, and at best would have cost me my self-respect."
I explained this to the kids in ways they would understand. The next thing we did was go through the points he makes in this section. Be true to your land and country you call home, your friends, your parents, heritage, and family, to the truth, to what is right and fair and honest, to who you are and your own convictions. There were some parts I read from the book but all we talked about with our kids. We made it into a discussion so they understood what I was getting at! I gave them each the printout that I made for them. They hung it somewhere where they would see it every day. Some put it next to their beds, one on the back of his door so he saw it every morning he left his room, and some put it on the wall next to their backpack hooks. (Just click here for the link to the printable..I have five color versions for my five crazy different kids!!)
Next, and this may just be the part that really hit home to them, they made a goal. Each of the kids received a blank paper and they came up with a goal to write on it. It is their "be true to yourself" goal of the school year.
"Follow myself and not my friends!"
"Share my talents and don't be embarrassed to shine~or fail!"
"Be myself and not someone else!"
"Don't be like others and just be me!"
They've only been in school for a week, but I know there are a few who have really focused on their goal already. They want to accomplish their goal and they want to hear a good report from their teacher and be able to tell their mom and dad how good they're doing at it. Taya even put her goal in her backpack so she could see it every day whenever she went into her bag.
This is one of my new favorite back to school traditions! (along with our annual one-on-one discussions about bullying~what it is, why we don't do it, and what to do if we see it) Do you have any you just love?
Have a happy day~Kasey