On a noisy day when the teachers in my older daughter’s second grade classroom needed everyone’s attention, they made this request. “Raise your hand if you’ll promise not to talk for the next half hour.” Immediately, the students raised a silent hand, but not my daughter. Her response: “I won’t make a promise because I don’t know if I can actually keep it. I might talk.”

Hearing this story from the teachers, I had a beginning glimpse of one of my daughter’s unique strengths – a trait that I still see in her as an adult: the desire to speak authentically.

Most parents have stories about cute things their children say, and families like to recall these anecdotes lovingly as a way of cherishing their shared memories: “Remember the time when …”

The Nurtured Heart Approach offers an additional opportunity when we tell stories about children. It proposes that every child has unique qualities that we might call their “greatness.” Thinking about the potential meaning of stories allows us to talk about events in our children’s lives in terms of how they reveal their positive traits. “I remember how you welcomed that new child in your class. That shows what a friendly person you are.”

It’s easy to tell children that they have wonderful qualities, but the power of stories is that they show the evidence of those traits. “When you made a wish that everyone in the world would be cured of coronavirus, it showed what a caring person you are.”

Keeping a record of stories that reveal children’s personalities allows us to see the most important part of their development – the gradual emergence of who they really are.

#meherschools #whitepony #parentingfromtheheart #nurturedheart #howardglasser

More than 200,000 Bay Area residents may have heard about our first grade’s holiday toy and outerwear drive for the White Pony Express General Store. The project was featured on San Francisco news radio station KCBS.

A White Pony Express volunteer informed the station about the drive, and they sent reporter Carrie Hodousek on December 22 to interview Room 10 teacher Laura White and two of her students, who came to school that day just for the interview.

Laura explained, “The children were really inspired reading about families that are going through hard times and don’t have access to all of the things that our families at this school have access to.”

First graders searched their rooms for toys and puzzles they no longer used and encouraged others to do so too. Room 10 student Noor Elyse told the reporter, “When I did that, I would think, ‘I kind of want that toy, but the kid who’s going to get it is going to be very, very happy – much happier than I’m going to be if I have it.’”

Her classmate Mani-Ann said, “It makes me very happy, and it almost made my heart burst, and I almost cried.”

KCBS aired the report several times the following morning, and you can hear it on the station’s website. One of the most popular stations in the Bay Area, KCBS has over 216,000 listeners.

#wednesdaymessages #meherschools #meherschool #whitepony #preschool #nurturedheart #KCBS #whiteponyexpress

Naming difficult emotions and the events that cause them is the first stage in teaching children resilience. Big feelings are abounding in response to alterations in our lives caused by the pandemic: frustration, anger, fear, loss, irritability.

One creative idea proposed to help children (and adults) cope with all the changes we are undergoing is to make them conscious by writing them down and creating a chart that depicts visually what’s different now and what’s the same.

The first column might list things like 1) can’t play with friends, 2) had to stop sports camp, 3) missing out on going to Tahoe, 4) mom and dad working at home, often can’t play. Then write the aspects of life that are the same: 1) mom and dad finish work at 5, 2) still eat breakfast at 7, 3) go to bed at 8, 4) have pizza on Fridays. You can brainstorm what items to put in each column and talk about the feelings involved, especially those in response to items in column one.

Recognizing feelings and naming them is the first developmental step in learning self-regulation. Resilience involves being able to tolerate big feelings, but interestingly, we can’t handle difficult emotions without first being able to name them. The old ways of teaching children to manage intense reactions were to punish the behavior with no discussion of what’s causing it, to distract children, or to talk them out of their responses. Yet none of these methods develops children’s abilities to deal with challenges in a resilient way.

Our job is to stay aware that many behaviors happening right now are the result of the unprecedented demands placed on all of us. It’s natural that bursts of anger and aggression would be occurring, and though we have to set limits, taking the time to talk about underlying feelings teaches self-regulation. It’s a way of creating compassion for our children and for ourselves.