Category Archives: Uncategorized

Raising Voices, March For Our Lives

ProwarvsYouthSaturday, March 24th students and their families will participate in March For Our Lives to demand safety and an end to gun violence and mass shootings in schools. It is a demonstration created and organized by #NeverAgain, a group of students who survived the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Students are marching across the country and at the Capitol to make sure their voices are heard. See the link below to find a March For Our Lives location near you.

As an advocate for children’s and youth’s voices being expressed and heard I wanted to remind us all to participate in some way. This event also made me think of the courage of Sandy Hook Mom, Scarlett Lewis. I watched a video by Scarlett Lewis who lost her son Jesse in the Sandy Hook School shootings. She started the “Choose Love” social emotional learning program to help prevent more tragedies like this one.

This from the Jesse Lewis Choose Love website: “The Choose Love Enrichment Program™ is a free, downloadablepre-K through 12th grade, evidence-based social and emotional (SEL) classroom program teaching children how to choose love in any circumstance. The program focuses on four important character values – Courage, Gratitude, Forgiveness and Compassion in Action – which cultivates optimism, resilience and personal responsibility.” Check the link below. There are many resources at her website, including a program for Choose Love at Home. The Choose Love program also uses a tapping technique for emotional healing and change. You can learn about the Tapping Solution at the website link, also below.

After the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings in Broward County, Florida, many people are participating in the recovery and healing process. Internationally known trauma expert, Dr. Lori Leyden and her Trauma Healing and Resiliency Team from Sandy Hook, CT headed to Parkland, FL at the beginning of March and offered rapid relief trauma healing sessions for those affected by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting tragedy. They also provided training for professionals and community leaders in charge of the recovery effort. See the link below for more information about Dr. Lori Leyden’s work.

Participating in the March for Our Lives is one way to have voice around gun violence in schools. Whether you and your family or students can or can’t attend the March for Our Lives, you can participate in other ways. Here’s an idea.

March for Our Lives Challenge: Talk about the March for Our Lives with your children or students and write a story together, or individually that expresses your and their feelings around gun violence in schools. You can do this in short story format or in comic panels.

Photo via creativecommons.org: photo by Charles Hutchins, Pro-war vs Youth

Links:

March For Our Lives closest to you: marchforourlives.com

The Tapping Solution (scroll down their page to see the technique steps):

https://www.thetappingsolution.com/what-is-eft-tapping/

Dr. Lori Leyden’s website: https://www.createglobalhealing.org/programs/project-light-parkland/

Jesse Lewis Choose Love:

https://www.jesselewischooselove.org/about-us/

https://www.jesselewischooselove.org/choose-love-home/

https://www.jesselewischooselove.org/choose-love-enrichment-program-at-a-glance/

 

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Dialoguing About Wealth with Children

money

I learn as much as I teach when teaching creative writing to my students. A few weeks ago, a first grader wanted my help writing a play. He wanted it to be about a teacher who took a cheap job because she was poor. I noticed at the time that he was putting a lot of emphasis on the value of expensive cars and on money. I took the opportunity to discuss the issue with my mentor. She suggested I write a play and begin a dialogue about what wealth means.

It made me question what it is we teach children about money and wealth. What is wealth? Does being wealthy mean you have a lot of money? Or does being wealthy also mean that your life is rich and full and meaningful in many arenas of living? The dictionary meaning of wealth is “an abundance of valuable possessions or money.” But is that really the true meaning of wealth? The dictionary meaning also includes: “plentiful supplies of a particular resource.” Could that resource be fun, happiness, joy, passion, or inspiration? Maybe a person is wealthy because of the depth of intimacy, love and caring in their lives. Maybe a person is wealthy because they feel joy from being, giving and receiving. Maybe a person is wealthy if they bring meaning and hope to their own life and the lives of others.

I wonder.

A week or so later, I ended up having another conversation with the same student. We talked about what else wealth could mean. The following week he told me that he decided to write a different play.

What are your concepts of wealth? What are the concepts of wealth the children in your life hold? Could they be expanded?

The California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco is holding a
“Women, Money & Spirit” Conference, April 29th, 2017, from 9:30am to 4:30pm. Leaders in psychology, social justice, religion, and finance will explore money from the perspective of spirit. It gives us an opportunity to examine our relationship with money and take a look at our beliefs around wealth. Here’s a link: http://www.ciis.edu/public-programs-and-performances/conferences/women-money-spirit-conference-2017

Image courtesy ClipartFest: clipartfest.com

Copyright © 2017, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

Social Story Impact

comicpaperbackThe benefits of social story may not always have the results that we think it should have or show up in the form we think it will take. What I do know with certainty is that social story works. I trust the process.

Yesterday, I noticed that the pile of blank paper that I had just brought into our open classroom the day before, (I bring my own supplies) was completely gone. I couldn’t believe it. I expressed my dismay out loud. Later in the day, two first graders came up to me while whispering to each other, and then one of them said, “We used up the paper to trace our characters.” (They used it to make stick puppets, and for coloring.) “We will bring paper from home to give you.”

I was moved by their honesty and caring, and the desire to take positive action. They saw the impact their actions had and they wanted to do something to change that. I responded in surprise and thanked them for their honesty and their caring and let them know how much I appreciated their thoughtfulness, which made them feel good about themselves.

I have also noticed that there is more interest in the social story books we have in the classroom, and that generally everyone is more conscious of putting things back where they found them.

Although the missing story “dream” stone has not yet returned, writing and reading social stories together, and then talking about choices and the impact we have with the choices we make has had immensely positive impact. I am amazed and grateful!

Copyright © 2017, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

How to Write Social Stories

dreamstonepage10There are many  helpful tips on the internet on “how to write social stories.” Most of the guidelines focus on stories that are meant to help children learn social cues and understand social situations.

I have been writing my own form of social stories (or what are called pedagogical stories in Waldorf Schools) for nearly 20 years now. I have written stories about many topics including bullying, teasing, racism, kindness, and recently, stealing. Writing and sharing these social stories with children has shown me that it is really important that the story is engaging.

When children are engrossed in a story, the lesson is more gently received. I might start writing with the theme in mind, like stealing. I think about the context of how it is playing out in the classroom or the household. I consider the children involved in the actual life situation, and I consider their interests and the dynamics of what is going on. I create a main character who has a similar challenge to one that the children in my life are facing, and I create a resolution. The setting I use is usually a village or a world I create that will engage the children’s imagination.

I ask questions about my main character like who are they? How old are they? What are their likes and dislikes? What are their dreams and wishes? What do they hate? What are they afraid of? Who are their friends? Who are their enemies? I ask other questions to, including what really matters to my main character? What do they want? What is their problem or challenge? Why? And how do they resolve it?

As I answer these questions, the story starts to unfold. Often, a magical alchemy happens where the story flows from beginning to end as though it has a life of its own. And it does!

Once the story is written, I share it with my students. We discuss what happened in the story and why. We talk about the subject in context of their lives and in context of the character’s lives. Usually, new awareness, and understanding surfaces.

This is one way I create and work with social stories that address emotional challenges in everyday living with children. When writing your own social stories for the children you care about, I suggest that you do a google search: “How to Write Social Stories,” or, “Social Story Writing Tips.” Here is a link that might be helpful: http://challengingbehavior.fmhi.usf.edu/explore/pbs_docs/social_story_tips.pdf

Copyright © 2017, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

How the People Learned to Thank Water #1 by Vlatka Herzberg

The people of Atwon village were happy people. They worked and played in cycles. There was a time to work, and a time to play. They planted and harvested in cycles. There was a time to seed and a time to pick the crops. There was a time for birth and a time for death. The people of Atwon knew these cycles intimately and life moved along rhythmically and harmoniously. It wasn’t until one day that the rhythm and the harmony were disrupted.

The people of Atwon were not the only people who inhabited the earth. There were many other villagers spread out through many different lands. And not all of the villagers of these many lands respected the cycles of work and play, of life and death. Not all of the villagers knew the steady rhythm of harmony. The elders of Atwon village warned that there would come a day when their own village would fall into disharmony, when the balance would be disturbed.

And so it is that day had come. Shenna, a young child of 10 was playing with her younger brother, Brock, making mud pies, running with a hoop and stick the way children do. She spotted cracks in the earth . She ran to her mother and father. “The earth is breaking!” she cried. Shenna thought that mother and father would know why. Shenna took them to see the cracks in the earth. Mother and father were very concerned. Mother touched the cracks; a tear ran down her cheek. Father’s heart was heavy, “The earth is very thirsty,” he said. “This is very serious.” (To be continued)

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.