DICTIONARIES URGE PEOPLE to build vocabulary, at any age, by picking a “word of the day” and finding ways to use it in various situations. Authorities advise that adjectives are the easiest to fit into conversations.
Recently a preschool class practiced this idea in a powerful new way. They selected words from the Nurtured Heart list of positive adjectives, then discussed their definitions of the words at Circle Time. All the words – including “articulate,” “truthful,” “inquisitive,” “resourceful,” “generous,” “focused,” and “enthusiastic” – have complex meanings.
Then the teachers took an extra step. They asked children if they would like to have one of the words taped to their shirts. Students enthusiastically helped choose a word. They loved having the adjective on their chest so much that they insisted on keeping the tape on even during nap time. One little boy, who sometimes finds it challenging to stay focused, kept pointing to his word and saying, “I’m attentive.”
Helping children to identify with positive attributes lies at the heart of the Nurtured Heart Approach, and much has been said in the literature about exploring this process. The exciting thing about this preschool activity is that it encourages children to identify with an attribute in a concrete way, like wearing it on their shirt.
One of the kindergarten classes has done this in a different way by associating Nurtured Heart words with a stuffed animal. Teachers look for positive events during the day that demonstrate a word like kindness, then talk at Circle Time about a time when they observed somebody demonstrating it. When they highlight the student’s act of kindness, they allow the child to hold the gentle deer “stuffie” – the class’s symbol of kindness. A bear represents strength and self-control.
Classes and families can profit from discussing the meaning of words on the long list of Nurtured Heart adjectives and finding ways, like choosing a word of the day, to understand and embody them more fully. Attached you’ll find a list of “emotionally nutritious” adjectives from the Nurtured Heart program.