• Meher School Community

“If it’s not fun, we’re not doing it!” That was Ms. Amy’s guidance during our planning meetings for this summer’s D.R.A.M.A. Camp. Children are learning a lot when they create their own plays, write scripts, design props and costumes, and perform. They’re also playing sports and learning art and design. All of these and any supplemental activities, however, must be fun!

Among the logo and poster designs the students are currently working on, Mr. Warren has added several art games to increase the fun. We thought we’d share, in case some families want to play along at home.

Basic Pictionary (requires one artist and one or more guesser)

  1. A volunteer artist is given a word. We used the online word generator here, where children can choose the difficulty.

  2. The volunteer draws a picture representing the word on the board. If you don’t have a whiteboard, dry erase markers work on windows or any hard plastic or metal surface.

  3. Everyone else tries to guess the word.

We worked together as a class to guess, but some might prefer a different structure, like playing in teams or putting a time limit on the drawing. Experiment with drawing for speed or giving unlimited time to illustrate difficult concepts. Our groups were challenged by words like “background,” “government,” and “part.”

Squiggle Line (requires two or more artists)

  1. One person draws a squiggly line on a piece of paper and hands it to someone else. If you’re playing with a bigger group, try passing the papers in a rotation.

  2. The second person adds to the line to create a new drawing. Think out of the box for an unexpected outcome!

Cooperation Drawing, aka “Exquisite Corpse” (requires three artists)

  1. A paper, held in portrait orientation, is folded horizontally into three equal sections.

  2. The first artist draws a face on the top section, continuing the lines of the neck just below the fold. Don’t limit yourself … it doesn’t even have to be human!

  3. The first artist folds the paper to hide the face and passes it to the second artist.

  4. The second artist, without seeing the face, locates the end of the neck lines from the first drawing. Then the second artist draws a torso, again continuing the lines just beyond the fold so that the next artist knows where to start.

  5. The second artist folds the paper so the third artist is unable to see the rest of the drawing.

  6. The third artist finishes the drawing with legs and feet.

  7. Open it up and see what you ended up with!

Check out the examples below!

This is the third in a Nurtured Heart Approach series where we summarize and discuss a chapter of the book The Inner Wealth Initiative, which is geared toward educators but is great for parents too. Over the next few months, we’ll share more on subsequent chapters and explore other helpful Nurtured Heart Approach resources. Parents may enjoy reading this book themselves and following along with our articles. Some other Nurtured Heart Approach books we love include Transforming the Difficult Child, There is Always Something Going Right, and Greatness Kids Initiative.

The Nurtured Heart Approach, a relationship-based approach designed to “awaken the inherent greatness in all children,” is critical to what we do at The Meher Schools. We use the Nurtured Heart Approach because it’s perfectly aligned with our values and mission: it emphasizes love, kindness, compassion, and positivity.

The Inner Wealth Initiative: Chapter 3

“Good job!” you say enthusiastically to your son as he finishes his drawing and puts away his crayons. He’s happy, but he’s not sure what exactly he did to earn the praise. Was it that he was putting his crayons away? That he was so focused on his drawing? That he used so many colors? That his drawings of animals are improving? That he kept trying despite being frustrated? Without the additional information, we are missing an opportunity to encourage him to repeat a desired behavior.

Effectively praising positive behavior is one of the three “table legs” of the Nurtured Heart Approach. This chapter dives deeper into the topic of praise, which it also refers to as “appreciations,” “recognitions,” and “acknowledgements.” We praise children to encourage them to repeat a good behavior. As the authors explain, though, it’s not just the praise that makes this work. “It is the fact that you are taking your time and energy to look deep into the student’s heart and spirit; that you find him valuable … that you treat him as greater than his problems” (p. 39).

Some praise is more effective than others. Below we summarize the four types of praise discussed in this chapter and include some tips and examples.

Active Recognition

What the authors call a “verbal snapshot,” this is just an observation, without any judgment.


  • “I noticed you’re using lots of different colors in your new drawing.”

  • “I can tell that you’re feeling frustrated.”


  • If your children aren’t used to this type of recognition, they’ll often resist or test boundaries. Keep it up!

  • Do not use this when a child is doing something wrong, like “I see that you are hitting your sister.” This adds energy and attention to the behavior.

  • Be specific. Parents tend to use phrases like “Good job” and “Thank you!” regularly without specifying what was good. Include details about what they were doing to show them that they are “seen, acknowledged, and appreciated” (p. 42).

Experiential Recognition

Here parents add to the observation to include what positive traits the child is demonstrating.


  • “I noticed that you’re playing well together by sharing the crayons.”

  • “I can see that you’re upset at your friend but that you used your words and walked away instead of hitting him.”


  • Children need to be taught what it means to “play nicely” or “be respectful.” If you include these phrases, add specifically how they’re doing it.

  • “Create a positive picture for the child of an event that is either presently unfolding or that has happened recently.” (p. 46)

Proactive Recognition

This step is about finding a time when the child could be breaking a rule but is choosing not to.


  • “‘I want you to know how much I appreciate you being so gentle with … [your] pet. You are showing that you can really be trusted with the feelings of others.” (p. 52)

  • “I see that you could be throwing your toys, but you’re putting them back neatly instead. This shows how helpful and responsible you are.”

  • “I like that you’re not teasing the other children … That’s a great way to be a friend.” (p. 52)


  • For this to work, the rules must be specific and clear. For example, try “No name calling” instead of “Be kind.”

  • As the caregivers, we should know the rules perfectly, but it’s fine for the children to learn as they go.

  • There’s no such thing as too much praise!

Creative Recognition

This type of recognition, which builds on the other three, is especially for children who are more intense and disruptive. The goal is to “engineer successes that would otherwise not happen.” (p. 53)


  • “I need you to sit down,” followed by, “I see that you’re sitting down like I asked. That shows how cooperative and helpful you’re being.”

  • “Put your clothes away.” Then, as the child walks toward the closet, even if he or she may not intend to put the clothes away, “I see that you’re starting to walk to the closet to put your clothes away. I appreciate that you’re starting to do as I asked. Very helpful!”


  • Avoid framing the instructions as an ask and avoid “please.” They should be direct.

  • Focus on the moment. Even if the children don’t follow the instructions for the rest of the day, celebrate when they do, and don’t mention the past.

Praise is an essential part of the Nurtured Heart Approach. It may take some time to get used to, but parents find that it can drastically change their children’s behavior. Most importantly, though, we “reflect their goodness, wholeness, and worthiness with celebration in this moment” (p. 39). This leads not just to improved behavior but building the “inner wealth,” which improves their views of themselves, and as the authors explain, helps them to “use good judgment, make good choices, … think of the future, cope with adversity, take risks, and find courage and love” (p. 18).

You might catch Benedict (“Dick”) Clark high on a ladder or rushing to resolve a plumbing or electrical emergency, but there is always a glint in his eye that tells you that he loves what he does. His job is facilities supervisor, but what he is most passionate about is getting to see the children every day.

One of his favorite memories from the school is one we mentioned in a Wednesday Messages, when he discovered that he shared a birthday with two Room 1 preschoolers and celebrated with them. He called it his “best birthday ever” and said that “everyone was just bursting with exuberance and good cheer.”

In 2015, upon finding himself a little bored in retirement, “Mr. Clark” jumped on Vince d’Assis’ and Tim Tacker’s request to take over for Tim in this critical facilities role. Dick started here in 2017 and has been working tirelessly ever since. Don’t be surprised to see him here late in the evening or over the weekend. With an older campus like ours, there is always something that needs repairing, and he has the skills and dedication to take care of all of it!

Originally from Rochester, New York, Dick graduated from Amherst College in Massachusetts. After trying out law school and realizing it wasn’t a good fit, Dick made his way to the West Coast for a master’s of forestry degree at UC Berkeley. In the admission interview, when asked why he was interested in the program, he answered simply, “I want to be among beauty.” He first surrounded himself with the natural beauty of Mendocino County’s Pygmy Forest, where he did stand-age analysis, studying the correlation between the soil conditions and the trees’ age and height. Some trees were over 80 years old but only four feet tall!

After other forestry work, including in the nearby East Bay hills, Dick worked as a lab tech at UC Berkeley. He worked under two future Nobel laureates, including Kary Mullis, the biochemist who invented the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique, which is currently being used widely in COVID tests.

When he left the position at the lab, the staff at Berkeley didn’t want to lose him, so they found a position for him in maintenance. He received all the necessary certifications, then he spent most of his career doing building maintenance, both at Berkeley and at Kaiser Permanente in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC.

When he’s not on campus, Dick loves “being in the mountains or the coast with the trees,” and calls himself a “recovering salmon fishing addict” who still gets out on the ocean occasionally.

Dick cares deeply about all our wonderful Meher Schools students and wants them all to know that “they blossom like flowers in their own time and in their own way.”